Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is gearing up to stage one of its most-anticipated championship fights ever later this evening (Sat., Oct. 6, 2018) as UFC 229 features a Lightweight title fight between division champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former 145- and 155-pound kingpin, Conor McGregor, who is returning from a two-year mixed martial arts (MMA) layoff. In the co-main event, former 155-pound champion Anthony Pettis will face off against former interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, for a chance to move up a spot in the championship race.
The return of McGregor to the MMA world in itself is huge. Doing it a against an undefeated (26-0, 10-0 UFC) wrecking ball and champion like Khabib elevates it that much more. This was the fight to make, and thankfully UFC gave fight fans what they wanted. It also sells itself after “Notorious” went on his Brooklyn rampage, tearing up a bus and hurting fighters in the process, all in his quest to avenge his friend, Artem Lobov, after the infamous “Eagle” slap.
And if you thought the promotion wasn’t going to use the “disgusting” images of shattered glass, destruction and blood, then you’ve never seen a Dana White-orchestrated promo. Indeed, during every commercial, video, countdown show, the images of McGregor throwing a metal dolly through the bus window trying to get at Khabib plays on loop, racking up the dollar signs for UFC in the process.
On to the fight itself. McGregor is as talented as they come, taking on any and all comers, regardless of weight class. His resume during his short time in UFC is unrivaled, becoming the promotion’s first two-weight world champion, breaking box office and payday records, as well as making history by crossing over into boxing for a Floyd Mayweather Jr. superfight. Perhaps what endears him even more to his fans is not the brash bravado, loudmouth sayings, suits or even his whiskey, it’s the fact that despite making more money in one fight than every fighter on UFC’s roster combined, perhaps in their careers, he still came back to the sport that gave him his big break and started his path to superstardom to face one of the most dangerous fighters in the game today. Love him or hate him, that has to be respected.
We know Khabib’s bread-and-butter is wrestling, mauling his foes like a grizzly bear and leaving them in pools of their own blood, reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant.” Getting to the ground is half the battle, as Conor has the reach and striking skills to keep Khabib at bay. And since “The Eagle” loves to push a relentless place, it will leave him open to a devastating counter punch. It’s a the classic “striker vs. grappler” match up, it just so happens to pit two of the best fighters in the world against each other.
There is nothing to complain about with the pay-per-view (PPV) event this time around.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
Sean O’Malley was set to headline the “Prelims” undercard portion of the event against Jose Alberto Quinonez, but was later pulled from the card after he failed a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)-administered test, forcing the cancelation of the fight altogether.
Thankfully, no injuries were reported for this blockbuster event.
Jalin Turner will bring his three-fight win streak with him to the Octagon as he makes his official debut for the promotion after getting the call up from Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” His first showing won’t be an easy task, facing the heavily-experienced Vicente Luque, who has won two straight and six of his last seven UFC fights. For a more detailed analysis of Turner click here.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The underbelly took a bit of a hit with the removal of O’Mally vs. Quinonez, but it still has some pretty good matchups to keep you entertained prior to the main course. Among them is Sergio Pettis vs Jussier Formiga. Big brother Anthony wasn’t too pleased to see his little brother relegated to the “Prelims” when he’s accustomed to headlining or getting main card exposure. But “The Phenom” can earn UFC’s respect if he can take out Formiga, the scrappy 125-pounder who is riding a two-fight win streak into “Sin City.” Both men love to stand-and-bang, though Jussier’s specialty lies in the submission game. If Sergio can score his second-straight win, it will get him out of preliminary purgatory. For Jussier, it’s his opportunity to pick up his biggest win to date.
Yana Kunitskaya will get her second chance to show what she can do inside the eight-sided cage after getting served up as the sacrificial lamb last-minute to Cris Cyborg in her Octagon debut. In her way is Lina Lansberg, a four-fight UFC veteran who has flip-flopped wins and losses so far in her tenure, also losing to Cyborg in her own debut. In addition, Gray Maynard — who was once considered a promising 155-pound contender — will make his return after a year-long hiatus in search of back-to-back wins when he meets Nik Lentz on UFC Fight Pass.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Khabib hasn’t tasted defeat, so he is no danger of getting cut with a loss. But he needs a win over McGregor for various reasons. For starters, many — believe it or not — have questioned his UFC run so far and level of competition. McGregor will, in fact, be his toughest test to date. If Khabib can defeat the mouthy Irishman, not only will it give him his biggest win ever, but also solidify his status as champion after winning the belt by defeating Al Iaquinta, who took the fight on 24 hours notice. Taking out a whale like McGregor is as big as it gets, and it will give “Eagle” all the validation he may need.
Interest Level: 10/10
With so many fights and events taking place seemingly every weekend, it’s been a while since an event has grabbed the interest of fans and media alike. With McGregor, you get a show before the show, as fight week is an event in and of itself. When it comes time to the scrap, he just does that, and this time he will face one of his biggest challenges to date, looking to be the first to solve the Khabib puzzle. Sure, Conor signed an extension with the promotion, but should he lose, don’t be too surprised if we don’t see him inside the Octagon for a while. If he wins, he can (and will) write his own ticket for his next challenge, which may include Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre or a Nate Diaz trilogy fight.
But, it’s not all about McGregor and Khabib, as the event marks the return of Tony Ferguson, who will fight just six months after tearing up his knee, costing him millions and his title. Facing Anthony Pettis isn’t the easiest of comeback fights, but “El Cucuy” wouldn’t have it any other way. For Pettis, scoring a victory over Ferguson puts him back on track to a shot at reclaiming the title he lost a few years ago. This bout has fireworks written all over it.
Derrick Lewis put up a stinker in his previous fight against Francis Ngannou, while Alexander Volkov lit it up, knocking out former UFC Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum earlier this year. That performance earned him his fourth-straight win, so if he can get through “Black Beast” at UFC 229 then the Russian-born fighter would make a strong case for a title shot.
Felice Herrig and Michelle Waterson were supposed to fight years ago as the two were coming up through the ranks. Once they made it to the big UFC stage, they were lined up to throw down last year before the promotion opted to book “Karate Hottie” against Paige VanZant instead. Now, there is nothing standing in the way of these two talented women from finally getting it on, and they will open up the biggest PPV event this year.
Dominick Reyes has been tearing it up throughout his career, going undefeated (9-0) including winning his first three UFC fights via first-round finish. He will be battling his biggest challenge to date in Ovince Saint Preux, a former title challenger who has faced the best-of-the-best during his UFC run. It’s a big opportunity for Reyes to pick up a huge win and squeeze his way into the title picture, while “OSP” can score his fifth win in last six attempts and remind everyone that he’s still a player in the 205-pound weight class.
We’re in for an entertaining night of fights.
UFC 229 Fight Card:
UFC 229 PPV Main Event:
155 lbs.: UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
UFC 229 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis
205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Dominick Reyes
265 lbs.: Derrick Lewis vs. Alexander Volkov
115 lbs.: Michelle Waterson vs. Felice Herrig
UFC 229 FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Jussier Formiga vs. Sergio Pettis
170 lbs.: Vincente Luque vs. Jalin Turner
135 lbs.: Aspen Ladd vs. Tonya Evinger
155 lbs.: Scott Holtzman vs. Alan Patrick
UFC 229 Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Yana Kunitskaya vs. Lina Lansberg
155 lbs.: Gray Maynard vs. Nik Lentz
170 lbs.: Ryan LaFlare vs. Tony Martin
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 229 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
To see the entire UFC schedule for 2018 click here.