The biggest fight in UFC history ended in chaos last night as Conor McGregor's triumphant opponent leaped into the crowd, sparking a brawl in the crowd, an attack on the prone Irishman in the octagon and three members of the Russian winner's team being arrested.
Khabib Nurmagomedov produced a career-best performance in Las Vegas to defeat the Irishman who was making his return to MMA after a near two-year hiatus.
But the action in the octagon was soon overshadowed as Nurmagodemov threw away his mouthpiece, leaped over the cage and attacked McGregor's team-mate Dillon Danis.
One of the Russian's entourage then stormed the octagon to punch the prone McGregor in the back of the head amid extraordinary scenes in front of 18,000 frenzied spectators at the T-Mobile Arena.
Both fighters were led away and there was no belt presentation but the ring announcer declared Nurmaomedov the winner, prompting a chorus of boos from the crowd.
The Nevada State Athletic commission have withheld Khabib's $2million pay-check after reviewing footage of the ugly scenes but decided to award McGregor's $3million.
Three members of Nurmagomedov's team were arrested following the scenes at the end of the bout but were released soon afterwards when McGregor said he would not press charges.
Security were overwhelmed post fight as people leaped into and out of the octagon to spark multiple brawls as crowd members were left stunned by the unsavoury scenes.
In a moment of madness the Russian he turned on the crowd in a bid to fight McGregor's American team-mate Danis before members of Khabib's team stormed the octagon to attack on the wounded McGregor.
Taking just one question at his press conference Nurmagomedov apologised to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Las Vegas but spoke of his disdain for McGregor's behaviour leading up to the fight.
Nurmagomedov said: 'First of all I want to say sorry to Nevada Athletic Commission and second to Vegas. I know this is not my best side. I'm a human being.
'But I don't understand how people can talk about how I jump on the cage. He talked about my religion, he talked about my country, he talked about my father.
'He came to Brooklyn and he broke bus, he almost killed a couple of people. What about this s***?'
The Dagestani fighter also claimed he was personally congratulated over the phone by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Reacting briefly on Twitter, McGregor said: 'Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.'
The enmity between the pair escalated earlier this year when McGregor notoriously threw a dolly at the window of a bus containing several rival fighters, including Nurmagomedov, and the war of words had intensified ever since.
Furious UFC president Dana White said: 'A lot of bad stuff happened after the fight, a lot that shouldn't happen.
'Khabib jumped over the cage going after one of Conor's guys and all hell broke loose. I don't even know what to say right now. I'm disgusted and sick over it.
'I'm so disappointed. I'm one of the guys who has worked 18 years to get this sport where it is today. 'It is super personal to me. I have worked so hard for so long.
'It is just so disappointing. It should have ended with Khabib walking out a champ but it didn't.'
White explained he did not want to incite crowd trouble as the reason for not allowing Nurmagomedov to celebrate in the octagon.
'I felt if we put the belt on him in the middle of the octagon, it was going to rain (with missiles),' White added.
'I thought people would throw whatever they had into the octagon and I thought it would be a dangerous situation so I didn't do it.'
Former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson set the tone when claimed the brawl outdid the night he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in 1997.
'Unimaginable never thought it would go down like this,' Tyson wrote. 'Crazier than my fight riot.'
Former UFC lightweight champion of the world Rafael dos Anjos was less than impressed by Nurmagomedov and his team, calling their actions 'unacceptable'.
'You can't jump the fence and punch the fighter,' he said.
Many pointed to McGregor's attack on Nurmagomedov's on a bus in April - footage of which was used in promoting this fight - as justification for Nurmagomedov's actions, but a number of MMA fighters disagreed.
Megan Anderson claimed 'one evil doesn't make another ok' and said Nurmagomedov should have risen above what had happened.
'As a champion, you set a higher standard,' she wrote. 'You don't stoop to that level. This is not the actions of a champion.'
Before the post-match carnage, the undefeated Russian, whose record is now a staggering 27-0, had dominated a sensational fight billed as UFC's biggest ever.
McGregor was bidding to retain the title he never lost in the cage, having been stripped of his featherweight and lightweight titles due to his inactivity from the octagon.
But Nurmagodemov showed off his wrestling skills and even skittled the supposedly superior striker with a huge right hand in the second round, before the former two-weight champion submitted to his rival's rear-naked choke midway through the fourth.
Irish and Russian fans had earlier had a fight of their own ahead of the UFC 229 showdown, as footage on social media appeared to show some supporters throwing chairs and handbags.
McGregor's loyal army of fans, who had made a 5,000-mile pilgrimage to Las Vegas, formed a sea of green and roared in approval every time their talisman landed a strike.
In the opening salvo McGregor flashed a left hand dangerously close but Khabib lunged at the Irishman's feet, latching on with a vice-like grip and forcing a takedown.
The Russian toiled on top, trying to advance position and eventually doing just but time expired before he could inflict any serious damage.
The Dubliner was nearly beaten in the second round, sent tumbling backwards by a thudding overhand right with referee Herb Dean watching closely, though McGregor survived into a more evenly matched third round.
But the Russian - who was ahead on all three judges' scorecards - produced the decisive takedown early in the fourth, working his way onto McGregor's back and sliding his hand just over the chin before cranking for all he was worth and forcing his opponent to tap out.
In a series of provocations before the fight McGregor had called the Russian's manager a 'terrorist' and 'rat' and even offered the devout Sunni Muslim a drink of his whiskey at a press conference in New York.
McGregor and Nurmagomedov had almost started their fight 24 hours early as tensions boiled over at Friday evening's weigh-in.
Having both made weight, the pair then squared off in front of the packed Las Vegas venue a day before their lightweight championship belt.
The Russian was barracked from a crowd largely supporting McGregor, whose entourage on to the stage at the venue included the rapper Drake draped in an Irish flag, and the pair had to be separated.
During his self-imposed two-year exile from the sport, McGregor had banked $100million for losing to Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match, was pictured with Vladimir Putin, was charged with assault for throwing a metal dolly at Khabib through a bus window and launched his own whiskey.
In the interim period, he had a foray into boxing for a lucrative showdown with Floyd Mayweather and was said to have earned $100million from the bout.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.