Earlier this week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission hinted that they are currently considering sanctions for “unacceptable” language in the lead-up to mixed martial arts events.
This development comes after the commission handed down penalties to both Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov for their “embarrassing” actions that occurred after their main event bout at UFC 229.
McGregor was handed a six-month suspension and $50,000 fine. Nurmagomedov was issued a much larger fine of $500,000 as well as a nine-month suspension that can be reduced to six months if the lightweight champion participates in an anti-bullying campaign.
But despite Nurmagomedov’s heftier fine, the commission seemingly realizes McGregor’s insults may have influenced Nurmagomedov’s actions.
At a commission meeting on Tuesday, January 29, NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett explained to MMA Junkie and other media: “Verbal antagonization to lead up to those events has to get itself put back in check. We can’t cross lines into families and race. It’s not what the sport is about. 90 percent of these fighters are some of the most ethical, nice, and humble people ever.”
And while Bennett has respect for McGregor both as an athlete and as a person, he feels as if the mixed martial arts star crossed the line before UFC 229.
“I think he [McGregor] amps these things up. It’s just a show. I look at half of it most the time and think it’s fake. It’s all promotion and they’re pushing it too far.”
NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell shared: “I definitely think, unequivocally, that’s something we need to take a more active role in and take an active role in for their language.”
Is the commission out of line?
The commission’s interest in punishing fighters for verbal attacks led to an unsurprisingly harsh response from Dana White.
Speaking at the UFC 235 Press Conference on Thursday, White labeled the commission’s direction as ‘crazy’ and ‘insane.’
“I think it’s unconstitutional first of all. I don’t think you can legally do that. These guys get into a cage and punch each other in the face. They can knock each other unconscious, they can choke each other, but they can’t say mean things to each other? I think it’s pretty ridiculous,” White stated.
But the commission begs to differ.
Marnell is adamant that “unsportsmanlike conduct” should be punished, and Bennett isn’t concerned about possible First Amendment challenges.
“I guess you can say whatever you want at any time, but that doesn’t mean you should earn a privileged license. I think people need to understand that this license is a license of privilege and not a license of right,” Bennett shared.
“Most people would subscribe to ‘let’s turn it down a little bit,’ and those who don’t… we’ll deal with that if they don’t.”