5 Biggest Outside the Octagon Brawls in History
We know that often emotions run over in a hostile sport such as MMA. Words and insults are often exchanged between scheduled opponents (and often teammates get involved) and sometimes, the fight can’t wait until fight night. Although not as often as we’d expect, when a brawl breaks out, it hits headlines, hypes the fight massively and is constantly shown on social media.
Are we really surprised that these unsolicited fights break out? At the end of the day, these athletes are primed to fight, often cutting weight so patience is low and are more often than not, ready to go. Realistically, when we break down a fighter’s personality, we should expect these brawls far more often and it’s a miracle that they don’t occur more than we see.
Let’s take a look at the five biggest outside the octagon brawls in history.
5. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz ‘exchange’ bottles at a press conference
Although not technically a ‘brawl’, this one is certainly noteworthy. Ahead of their UFC 202 clash, Conor McGregor did what Conor McGregor does and showed up roughly 30 minutes late to the press conference which took place in Las Vegas. McGregor took to the mic to state: “I’m here, I’m ready to fight. You know you’re going to get a fight when I’m here”. As he was saying this, Nate Diaz and his team stood up and began to walk out of the presser.
It was Diaz who initiated the bottle throwing, hurling a plastic bottle towards the stage. The Notorious reacted to this by throwing a bottle back at Diaz, followed by (what was reported at the time to be) full cans of Monster energy. UFC president, Dana White called the press conference off and McGregor received a hefty fine for his part in the ‘brawl’.
Here is the #UFC202 brawl between #ConorMcGregor and #NateDiaz pic.twitter.com/jTS56njsS5
— Michael Allardyce (@mikedyce) August 17, 2016
4. Wanerlei Silva and Chael Sonnen – The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3
Surely everyone has seen this iconic ‘mini-scrap’ outside the octagon? Opposing coaches in The Ultimate Fighter, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva were forced to spend an extended period of time together during the filming of this season, what’s more, Silva clearly didn’t like Sonnen. The two had been going back and forth for years and the show was the boiling point.
After several words were exchanged between the two men in which Silva repeatedly got in the face of The Bad Guy, the Brazillian then momentarily put his hands on Sonnen, who reacted with the now iconic line “I can’t let you get too close”. Pushing Silva and instantly reverting to his fighting stance, Sonnen avoided a right hook from Silva, taking him down in the process with each man landing a series of weak blows before being broken up by the respective teams.
The two were set to legitimately meet at UFC 175, however, during the brawl on the show, Silva injured his hand. The two wouldn’t clash until after both men left the UFC, in Bellator some four years later. Sonnen would take the fight via unanimous decision.
3. JorgeMasvidal Sucker Punches Leon Edwards Backstage
After a successful night for both men inside the octagon at UFC London in 2019, Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards apparently hadn’t had enough violence. As Gamebread was being interviewed, Rocky shouted something his way, which clearly got under the American’s skin. Masvidal took offence as Edwards interrupted his interview.
The American would walk over to Edwards with his hands behind his back, seemingly just to have a conversation before sucker punching the future welterweight champion with a pair of hooks, causing a reasonably sized cut on the cheek of Edwards before being pulled away.
It’s fair to say that these two men should certainly have settled their differences inside the octagon following this brawl, however, it wasn’t to be and the two men’s careers are now vastly different.
Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards exchange words and punches backstage during the ESPN+ post-show pic.twitter.com/kYEkWxN8Io
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 16, 2019
2. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier Brawl ahead of UFC 178
The rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier has gone down in history as one of the most heated in UFC history. Notably, neither man’s career would have been the same without the other and in a strange way, they owe a lot to each other.
Heading into UFC 178, Jones was scheduled to rematch Alexander Gustafsson, however, the Swede had to withdraw and was replaced with the undefeated contender, Daniel Cormier. After the UFC 178 press conference, the champion, Jones marched onto stage for the final face-off and instantly stuck his forehead on Cormier, looking to pressure him backwards.
DC reacted by shoving Jones backwards, causing Jones to lose his cool, drop his belt and launch himself at Cormier. Then-UFC executive Dave Sholler attempted to stop the champion, however, Jones shoved him out the way. The two men would throw punches, break the set of the conference and force multiple members of security to break the two men up.
Note that the image above shows Cormier’s arm attempting to protect a punch from Jones after Jones ended up on top of his rival during the brawl.
The fight wouldn’t go ahead at UFC 178, rather UFC 182 where Jones would notch a unanimous decision victory.
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov Attacks Team McGregor and Team Nurmagomedov Attack Conor McGregor at UFC 299
Arguably the biggest fight in UFC history saw the undefeated, dominant champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov clash with his long-time rival, Conor McGregor. The build-up was nasty, with McGregor constantly taunting the Russian, bringing up religion, terrorism and everything in between. The fight played out how many thought that it would, with Khabib dominating the former champ-champ in the wrestling game, as well as being more than competent on the feet, even knocking The Notorious down in round 2. The fight ended via face crank in round 4 at the hands of Khabib, however, it’s very much the aftermath that made the headlines, unfortunately.
After forcing the Irishman to tap, the champion, understandably was still fueled with anger. He had to be pulled off McGregor by referee Herb Dean and continued to shout at the now defeated Notorious one after the fight had finished.
He then made a B-line for Team McGregor, in particular, Dillon Danis. Khabib threw his mouthguard at the cageside, proceeded to vault over the cage and jumped feet first at the Irishman’s team, causing a mass brawl outside the octagon.
The incident was caught on grainy phone footage and the above image has become infamous. For context, Danis is in the white T-shirt with blonde hair, a clear target for Nurmagomedov.
Simultaneously, as this was happening outside the octagon, there was still action inside the squared circle. UFC fighters, Abubakar Nurmagomedov (Khabib’s cousin) and Zubaira Tukhugov (teammate) jumped the cage attempting to attack the Irishman after the final bell had rung. The Russian’s cornerman, Esed Emiragaev also got involved, looking to escalate the altercation inside the octagon.
McGregor would not only be hit but also hand out his own blows, especially to Abubakar. As a result of the brawl, Khabib wasn’t handed the belt inside the Octagon in fear of the crowd’s reaction. A sour end to such a highly hyped fight.