The long-awaited UFC 229 showdown of Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov got off to an ominous start with a violent scuffle that erupting at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas during the weigh-ins.
An Instagram clip, posted by retired MMA fighter Brendad Schaub, shows a man in a white and yellow T-shirt man attempting to hurl a chair at another fan wearing a McGregor-branded shirt.
A woman in black then gets into the action, apparently trying to defend the McGregor fan, but is shortly confronted by a worthy adversary — a yellow-clad lady who knocks her down with a hook.
The scene then descends into a chaotic two-on-two bare-knuckle brawl, with the two couples stomping on each other, covering rows of chairs in the process.
"I'm telling you this fight is much, much bigger than just Conor vs Khabib," Brendad Schaub wrote, referring to "fired up" Russian and Irish fans.
The much-anticipated UFC lightweight championship bout ended in the fourth round, with Conor succumbing to a Khabib neck crank, that was finished with a rear-naked choke.
However, the Irishman's surrender didn't put an end to his conflict with Khabib, which then spilled across the octagon. Seconds after submitting Notorious, the Russian grappler leapt out of the ring to go after the Irishman's jiu-jitsu coach Dillon Danis, sparking a mass brawl in which a member of Khabib's entourage jumped into the octagon and punched Conor in the back of the head.
UFC President Dana White confirmed post-match that three members of the Russian champ's team were arrested after the brawl and also hasn't ruled out him being stripped of his title over the incident. Conor, in turn, said that he was "looking forward to the rematch."
The arena brawl marked the latest crescendo of a simmering conflict between the two camps, which first made headlines in April, when the Irish fighter hurled a metal dolly through the window of a bus transporting Nurmagomedov and his team, shattering glass and injuring lightweight fighter Michael Chiesa. The attack appeared to be related to a heated exchange between Khabib and McGregor's friend, Artem Lobov, that transpired some days earlier.
Khabib is the first Russian to be crowned UFC champion. He claimed the lightweight title when he defeated Al Iaquinta on April 8. The 30-year-old Russian fighter remains unbeaten, extending his MMA win streak to 27. McGregor suffered his second defeat in the UFC.