“Do You Think They Paid Him?” Khabib Nurmagomedov Forgives Referee for Allowing Conor McGregor’s Illegal Moves

Published 11/22/2021, 9:45 AM EST
MOSCOW, RUSSIA AUGUST 18, 2021: Russian mixed martial artist and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov gives a news conference. Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS (Photo by Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images)

Khabib Nurmagomedov might have retired, but his legacy still continues. Fans look back at the former champion’s fights because of his great wrestling and undefeated record. However, at one point, Khabib could have lost a fight through no fault of his own.


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His fight against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 was one of the most exciting bouts in the history of UFC. While Khabib ultimately won the fight, some things about the fight still irk him.

It is believed that referee Herb Dean did a shoddy job during the Khabib-McGregor fight. ‘The Notorious’ managed to land several illegal moves on the Dagestani fighter, while the referee didn’t really intervene. Thus, McGregor won their third round. While this happened back in 2018, it seems like Khabib still likes to joke about the incident.


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When ‘The Eagle’ met Dean at a UFC event, he jokingly asked his coach, “Coach, how much do you think they paid him?”

Khabib’s coach said, “I don’t know; Herb, how much?”

Dean replied, “I was trying to do a good job.”

Khabib’s coach further grilled Herb and asked, “Were you well-compensated, though?”

Herb replied, “That’s the thing; I’ve never been well-compensated.”

Khabib laughed it off and said, “Coach, it’s okay I forgive him.”

All three of them seemed in noble spirits, and their friendly banter amused many fans. It is great that Khabib can laugh about the incident.

Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Conor McGregor bout controversy

While ‘The Eagle’ can now joke about the bout and take it lightly, at that time, he was extremely furious.


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McGregor won the third round because of his illegal strikes and, of course, Khabib was not happy about this. It was the first time the Russian fighter lost a round. Later on, McGregor himself admitted to using illegal moves.


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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 17: Khabib Nurmagomedov reacts after teammate Islam Makhachev’s victory against Thiago Moises in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)|GettyImages

Referee Herb Dean didn’t give stern warnings to McGregor, and this frustrated Khabib. In fact, Khabib called out Dean during their bout for letting go of the Irish fighter’s fouls. However, during their fourth round, Khabib managed to takedown McGregor and won the fight.

The fight thus ended well for Khabib.


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What do you think about Khabib Nurmagomedov and Herb Dean’s banter backstage? Let us know in the comments below.

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Rohini Kottu

116 articles

Rohini Kottu is a UFC Writer at EssentiallySports. She is also a Psychologist and has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Rohini, in her role as a UFC writer, combines her admiration for the mental resilience that MMA fighters have and her love for analysis.