Dana White reveals Vladimir Putin gifts to Khabib Nurmagomedov after Conor McGregor win

As Khabib Nurmagomedov waded through waves of Nevada Athletic Commission officials, Las Vegas police and UFC security to the back of T-Mobile Arena at UFC 229, a call was waiting.

On the line was Vladimir Putin, who’d gone from TV to telephone to congratulate the Dagestani champ seconds after tapping out the biggest star in MMA, Conor McGregor, in a fight that had become a global sensation.

The Russian president had to wait a bit – after the bedlam that ensued with Nurmagomedov jumping into the crowd to fight McGregor teammate Dillon Danis, a lot of bodies were required to clear the scene. Stiff fines would follow for all those involved, none greater than for “The Eagle,” who was ultimately docked $500,000 from his fight purse.

But according to White, Nurmagomedov received a gift from Putin that, for most, would be a life-changing resource. Putin’s phone congratulation was just the opening gesture in what the UFC CEO said was a lavish gift bestowed upon the then-UFC lightweight champ and his now-deceased father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

“He didn’t even make it back to his dressing room after the fight, and Putin was on the phone,” White recounted of the UFC 229 saga on the “Games with Names” podcast. “Putin gave him and his father, like, $20 million worth of property in Russia. Then he went into the Muslim territories where these guys are like, cars, money, gyms, whatever he wanted.”

Many of those gifts to Nurmagomedov were documented, including a lavish Mercedes given by Putin ally and now-sanctioned Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, whose longtime obsession with MMA and alliances with UFC fighters would later attract the attention of the U.S. State Department. Putin’s $20 million in real estate was not previously known as a gift.

Nurmagomedov was no stranger, however, to Putin’s generosity, whether directly or indirectly. According to Bloody Elbow’s Karim Zidan, the majority of his training camps were funded by Russian oligarch and Putin crony Ziyavudin Magomedov, who was later arrested for allegedly embezzling state funds to the tune of approximately $180 million.

Nearly six years after that fateful night in Las Vegas, Nurmagomedov is retired and has resisted White’s efforts to bring him back to the octagon. According to White, money is the reason McGregor isn’t coming back any time soon.

“Once you get to that level [of Nurmagomedov’s fame], it’s like what we’re dealing with with Conor McGregor,” White said. “Conor McGregor lives in a yacht in the middle of wherever the warmest place in the world is at that time. Once you get to that level, you’re not getting up and getting punched in the face any more.”

White intimated that Nurmagomedov’s departure from MMA – the result of a promise to his mother after the death of his father – kept him from capturing the mantle of MMA goat.

“The GOAT is Jon Jones,” he said. “Jon Jones is undefeated. Khabib is undefeated, too, but I would have liked to have seen Khabib do more.”