MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, seated left in photo, met mixed martial arts champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, on Wednesday, saying that he did not deserve harsh punishment for a recent post-fight brawl.
The Russian strongman appeared on state television meeting the fighter, who defended his Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title against Conor McGregor on Saturday, along with his father.
Nurmagomedov faces a possible suspension over the post-fight fracas and has not received his prize money, though he will keep his title.
Putin gave the fighter a mild lecture over his behavior, but stressed that any Russian will respond forcefully to an attack from the outside.
“I will ask your dad not to punish you harshly,” the president told the 30-year-old fighter from the mainly Muslim Dagestan region, adding that “you won worthily and convincingly.”