By Pete Hoffman
Hearings for Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, and Jon Jones in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commisions wrapped rather quickly Tuesday afternoon. The rulings were unsurprising -- with the exception of Nurmagomedov being fined $500,000 for his actions in the post-fight melee at UFC 229 in October. McGregor received a mild $50,000 fine for his actions that night. And, as expected, Jones was granted a license to fight in the state in March at UFC 235 despite his ongoing issue with trace amounts of performance-enhancing drugs appearing in his samples -- though it was just a one-fight license.
What does this all mean?
The suspensions handed out to Nurmagomedov and McGregor will allow them each to be back in the cage by UFC 236 on April 13. Nurmagomedov’s return in April (after a six-month ban) is based on good behavior; otherwise he’ll have to serve a full suspension of nine months. Being that Nurmagomedov and McGregor each fight about two times per year, this really has affected their wallets more than their availability to get in the cage.
Lightweight contenders Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Nate Diaz, Al Iaquinta and even featherweight champion Max Holloway are all waiting in line for the chance at either fighting Nurmagomedov for the lightweight belt or McGregor for a nice pay day. Expect fight announcements to come by March, which will help shape the lightweight division for 2019, though rumors are circulating that neither Nurmagomedov nor McGrergor is looking to get back in the cage before July.
Jones will be shadowed by his inconsistent drug testing results, but for now his career as a fighter is back on track. Jones' opponent at UFC 235, Anthony Smith, has stated he doesn't care about the licensing or drug-testing and simply is looking forward to facing Jones. Expect Jones to continue to meet with NSAC before each fight until he can prove he is fighting clean over the long term.