Khabib’s Honor

The Eagle Flies. Khabib Flies.

Khabib dominated every round with not only his superior grappling, but also with his superior striking. Khabib finally made McGregor tap out with a neck crank (a suboptimal rear naked choke). It was a glorious victory. But, what got even more people talking about the fight, was what happened after the fight.

Khabib is a Dagestani UFC fighter from Russia who happens to be a devout Muslim. Conor is an Irish boxer and UFC fighter from Dublin who happens to be Christian.

This is a recap of the post-fight. Sorry for the potato video. This is what I could find as of now.

As you can see, after whooping Conor by himself,

Khabib enthusiastically goes to whoop Conor’s team by himself.

Presenters afterwards started to throw a bunch of crap on Khabib (F.Y.I. Conor wasn’t innocent).

UFC Fox throwing all crap they can find on Khabib.

“He had dignity and class all week, and then he had to ruins it on an epic scale. Absolutely destroyed his reputation.”

“I thought these guys would settle it in the octagon”

“Well this is the beautiful thing about our sport. Two guys, when they step into the octagon, even if they hate each other, we’ve seen it time and time again, grudge matches, where they can’t stand one another, when the fight is done, when the dust settles, they shake hands [indicating forgiveness and absence of tension] and it’s over and it stays there.”

I’ll bring these up later in a discussion.

People Don’t Like It.

Probably watch this video.

According to this video, Dillon Danis was shouting ‘words of disrespect’ at Khabib during the fight. Joe Rogan, a popular sports commentator said, “We couldn’t hear what he said, but Dillon was absolutely insulting Khabib and saying something to him and provoking him”. According to TMZ, Dillon Danis called Khabib a “f***ing Muslim rat”. A nearby person said Dillon was running his mouth about Khabib all throughout the fight. Khabib wanted to make a point.

List of Insults

There were many events leading up to this fight. A lot of personal slights, I’ll link a video a video that summarizes the longish beef between the two. If you don’t want to watch it, just keep reading, I’ll briefly summarize this.Conor in the press conference insults Khabib in many ways:

Conor throws a metal piece of furniture into Khabib’s bus, breaking the window.

1. Conor rubs the fact that the main investor of Khabib’s team, Ziyavudin Magomedov, was put in jail by Vladimir Putin in Khabib’s face.

2. When Conor offers alcohol to Khabib, Khabib refused because he is Muslim and doesn’t drink. Conor then calls Khabib, “A mad backwards c***”.

This is a picture of Khabib’s wedding photo. Backwards?
Khabib was cool, calm, and collected during the press conference.

3. Conor calls Khabib a ‘pull out merchant’. This refers to the knee injuries that caused Khabib to pull out from a fight with Tony Ferguson twice. Tony Ferguson also pulled out twice from that fight too.

4. Then Conor refers to an incident Khabib had with another Russian MMA fighter, Artem Lobov. Conor implies that it was a cowardly move for Khabib to bring his whole squad for that confrontation. According to Charisma on Command, “He calls Khabib a coward for not handling his business like a man, which seems to be something that Khabib really values”

30 minute long video is summarized below for you.

5. Conor says, “My Chechen friends, the Vainakh soldiers, told me that they have chicken jaws in Dagestan”. This refers to the long standing ethnic beef between the Chechens and the Dagestanis.

6. Conor insults the brother of Khabib, “I saw his brother get sparked unconscious at another promotion”. This refers to a previous fight where Khabib’s brother was the favorite for a particular fight and then losing it.

7. Conor calls Khabib’s father a coward on an instagram comment a while back. Then Conor calls out Khabib’s father for, as Conor suggests, posing for pictures with Ramazan Kadyrov, the Chechen dictator, accusing Khabib’s father of acting out of fear and fake respect. Khabib has a good relationship with the Chechen Ramazan Kadyrov apparently, but in the past, the two people are part of previously warring tribes. Khabib and his father are descendants of Dagestanis and Ramazan Kadyrov is a Chechen.

Ali AbdulAziz, Khabib’s manager.

8. Conor calls Khabib’s manager Ali AbdulAziz a ‘terrorist snitch’. Ali Abdul Aziz was recruited apparently by the US Government as a spy against Islamist terrorist groups within the USA. With the use of a lie detector (which are B.S.), the US government decided that he was a lier. Also Conor says to Ali, ‘Where’s Noah?’. This is refering to Ali’s son. Ali is aparently $50,000 on child support. However it is also known that they are in contact together too, so they are chill. Khabib loves his manager, Ali.

9. Independent to the press conference, McGregor’s team mate (namely Dillon Danis, the one who Khabib pounces on), posted these pictures on Instagram. Note that during the fight, Dillon also hurls racial slurs at Khabib.

Khabib, being Muslim, hates alcohol, and especially Conor’s brand of whiskey, Proper Twelve. Sambo is Khabib’s martial art and Jiu-Jitsu is Dillon’s martial art.
In this photo, Khabib is referred to as a ‘backwards cunt’.

So in summary of the summary of the summary, Conor insults Khabib’s religion, family, friends, and lineage. Maybe to Conor, who is from a dignity culture, this is just trash talk, but to Khabib, who is from an honor culture, this is something that can cause a life-long grudge. This is the reason why Khabib didn’t leave the beef in the ring.

Dignity culture and honor culture are two of the three macro-cultures that the world operates under (the last one being a face culture).

Staffan’s personality blog puts it nicely,

Below is a copy-paste from his blog… (sorry)

Comparing Honor Culture With Dignity Culture

Honor Culture

This culture is based on the idea that a person’s worth is based on his reputation. Reputation, in turn, is based on positive and negative reciprocity. This means that in order to be considered honourable you need to repay favors, but also revenge insults, even very small ones. If you fail in these obligations, especially in revenging insults, other people will shame you by laughing or expressing disgust, and your reputation/honor will be ruined. The motivating emotion that makes people do what they are supposed to do is shame. For that reason it’s sometimes called shame culture. People from honor cultures come off as friendly and generous, but with a dark side; they can quickly turn angry and violent if they feel slighted. This culture is masculine and can be found in male subcultures such as the military, student fraternities, in prisons, and among school boys.

Honor culture is the norm in societies where the state is weak and can’t enforce the rule of law properly. You can’t call the police so instead you deter bad people from attacking you by showing that the slightest disrespect will come at a cost. If you combine this with always repaying a favour people know that you are open for cooperation but you won’t be taken advantage of. In short, that you’re a person of honor. This culture is also closely linked to power and influence. The higher up in the hierarchy, the more honor.

Dignity Culture (AKA Guilt Culture)

The dignity culture is characterized by the conviction that all individuals have an inner, inalienable worth. The ideal person of dignity is one who stands by his principles and doesn’t listen to gossip. This attitude will of course not protect your life or property so it requires a state that enforces the rule of law. The person of dignity is less prone to corruption since he follows his internal standards and is less swayed by what other people say. And unless he is at odds with society he will abide the law even when he knows he could get away with breaking it. Because knowing he did something bad will trouble him even if no one else knows about it. The motivating emotion in dignity culture is that of a guilty conscience. This is why it’s also known as guilt culture.

Dignity culture has some obvious advantages. It allows people to be more free and individualistic and it prevents corruption. But it has a weakness in that a person prone to guilt can easily be exploited by someone who isn’t. Like honor culture, dignity culture features positive reciprocity, since most people feel that returning a favour is the good thing to do, but not necessarily an absolute must. It’s often done more like an understanding between two individuals. But there is definitely less negative reciprocity since this culture relies on the rule of law and if you agree to that you’d be breaking your own code if you took the law in your own hands. However, if your principles are in conflict with the law you can break it and maintain a sense of self-worth. In this case you become a prisoner of conscience. This fact also illustrates that dignity is unrelated to power. You can be in prison and have dignity and you can be the president and lack dignity if your principles have been compromised. While honor culture is conservative in nature, the dignity culture is found in liberal democracies. It’s the culture of Enlightenment but its roots are most likely older than that (for more on this see anthropologist Peter Frost’s posts on the subject).

So how does this relate to the fight?

Let’s take a look at the differences in traits of the two cultures of the fighters that were involved.

“He had dignity and class all week, and then he had to ruins it on an epic scale. Absolutely destroyed his reputation.”

“I thought these guys would settle it in the octagon”

“Well this is the beautiful thing about our sport. Two guys, when they step into the octagon, even if they hate each other, we’ve seen it time and time again, grudge matches, where they can’t stand one another, when the fight is done, when the dust settles, they shake hands and it’s over and it stays there.”

Because the presenters grew up in dignity cultures, they assumed that ‘leaving everything in the ring’ is the appropriate thing to do. Even Conor understands something sacred and dignified about the post-fight. Just take a look at the relationship between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor!

So respectful.

Showing good sportsmanship after fights, respecting authority and government, following the rules even if you do not like them, and leaving all bad sentiments in the ring is characteristic of dignity cultures.

Since, Khabib doesn’t follow that culture, Khabib will only show good sportsmanship and forgiveness to those fighters who deserve it, to those fighters that show him respect.

Just to explain the difference between the two cultures, I’ll give a few examples. If a person from a dignity culture comes to an empty intersection in the middle of the night, they will likely not cut the red light. Guys from dignity cultures are individualistic. ‘Yo mama jokes’ are just jokes to them. They aren’t tied to the reputation of their parents. When Conor was trash talking Khabib, Conor did not realize that Khabib would internalize these insults that deeply.

It’s a shame that Conor or the presenters, or even the folks under UFC president Dana White understand honor culture, because men from honor cultures interpret insults deeply, viscerally, and intensely.

Khabib only shows sportsmanship to those who deserve it. Post fight forgiveness is optional.

Journalist: Will you shake Conor’s hand after the fight?

Khabib: No way.

Journalist: Why?

Khabib: Because.

Khabib never insulted Conor’s family, religion, or lineage, because he understands the importance of these three factors in his honor culture. To revenge insults is a greater imperative in the honor culture than to follow the rules of making peace after fighting in sport.

Conor insulted Khabib’s religion, family, friends, and lineage (the only thing he could have done worse was to insult Khabib’s womenfolk). The result: Khabib will have a grudge against Conor for the rest of his life until Conor asks for forgiveness (this is only because Khabib is Muslim, otherwise he would not forgive Conor).

Khabib knew that honor and respect do not just end in the ring. Forgiveness is not a right, it must be earned.

Khabib, filled with adrenaline, instinctively jumped out of the cage and dived off the platform into the audience to attack Conor’s entire team (particularly Dillon Danis) by himself after being provoked by Conor’s team seconds after whooping Conor McGregor.

Men from honor cultures understand that rules, apart from religion and parents, mean nothing. For example, if you take men from honor cultures to a late night intersection, you can nearly guarantee that the light would be cut. Similarly, ‘Yo mama jokes’ are not jokes, they are a death sentence. When I used to live in Saudi Arabia, a society that has one of the worlds strongest honor cultures, insulting another’s family, religion and tribe could actually get you killed.

Finally, men from honor cultures, once brothers, are brothers until they die. Bonds of loyalty are incredibly strong, even until the point of death, unless betrayal happens. This is why Khabib’s team jumped into the ring to jump Conor. In fact, Khabib’s cousin, Abu Bakr was punched in the face first by Conor McGregor (who also showed loyalty to his own side)! This shows insanely strong brotherly loyalty.

Also, if you show kindness, respect, and generosity to men from honor cultures, you would expect only an increased return of warmth and hospitality from men from honor cultures as in the below video. Note: directly after Khabib whooped everyone in the video, he hugged them and showed them respect. Cage fighting for Khabib is normal and unemotional, what made Conor different however, was Conor’s insults towards Khabib.

Khabib respects individual fighters who deserve it.

“This is respect sport. This is not trash-talking sport. I told you before. I want to change this game. I don’t want people to talk sh*t about opponents, about their family, about their father, about their religion. You cannot talk about religion. You cannot talk about nation. You cannot talk about this stuff. This, for me, is very important.”

Moral of the Story

Respect people. Honor culture is not dead.

Revenging insults is not ‘dishonorable’, it is still considered honorable to some people, and that is OK.

There are some topics and insults that are off limits for us in society (which we are slowly, until last night’s fight, are becoming desensitized to).

Honor culture reminds us that it is not ok to insult people’s honor. It is not ok to make fun of a person’s lineage (the N word), their family (yo mama jokes), their religion, or to insult their close friends.

Respect and honor can be more sacred than cultural formalities and sportsmanship.

My personal advice to my readers:

Defend your honor so that your forgiveness is valuable.

When Allah with you, nobody can broke you. Nobody.

Finishing with a Hadith

He (peace be on him) said, ‘Among the major sins is a man’s cursing his parents.’ The people who were present wondered how a sane and believing individual could curse his own parents, and enquired, ‘How is it possible for a man to curse his own parents?’ The Prophet (peace be on him) replied, ‘He insults another man’s father, and then the other insults his father, and he insults the other’s mother, and the other returns the insult to his mother.’ (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

P.S. To those who say Khabib should have forgiven everyone after the fight…

  1. Dillon Danis still kept hurling abuse at Khabib even after the fight.
  2. McGregor’s team never asked for forgiveness.
  3. Forgiveness is a privilege, not a right.
  4. Khabib just pounded Conor.
  5. You likely come from a dignity culture so you may not entirely understand their perspectives.

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Fahad Butt 🦁

Neuroscience Major | Ohio State MSA Education Chair | Developing The Male Muslim Mind | 19 | #Monk