The biggest fight in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history took place tonight (Sat., Oct. 6, 2018) in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event of UFC 229, which took place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring the return of the most popular fighter in the sport, Conor McGregor, who was returning from a two-year mixed martial arts (MMA) layoff to try and reclaim his 155-pound world title from undefeated grappling machine, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
And, as advertised, it was straight up bonkers, with McGregor’s epic entrance getting the sold-out crowd roaring and foaming at their collective mouths. Nurmagomedov’s walkout, unsurprisingly, was much more subdued, but once he entered the arena he wasted no time getting to the cage. Then it was finally time to get down to business, to see who could talk the talk and walk the walk once and for all. The two refused to touch gloves and then we were off ...
McGregor pressured early and landed a nice shot, but then Nurmagomedov snuck in an ankle pick and wrestled the Irishman to the ground within the first minute. McGregor defended well, but Nurmagomedov eventually got on top and began to work for position, pinching McGregor’s legs together between his thighs so he could not return to his feet. McGregor stayed busy with short shots as Nurmagomedov methodically worked to find and advantageous position. With one minute remaining in the opening round, Nurmagomedov finally found an opening to deliver some patented ground-and-pound.
McGregor must have been frustrated heading into his corner, but he had a clean slate to start back on the feet. But it was Nurmagomedov who landed the big shot, sending McGregor to his butt with a looping right hand before ultimately using it to score his second takedown of the match. Nurmagomedov was in a much better position this round, sitting in McGregor’s guard and just drilling him with punches and elbows. He stacked him up against the bottom of the cage and began to unload on McGregor, who was flailing on his back trying to avoid the punishment. Nurmagomedov almost had a kimura locked up, but McGregor was able to slip out of it. McGregor was able to get back to his feet around the 45-second mark, but he looked like hell as Nurmagomedov kept him mushed against the fence until the round ended.
McGregor started the third round looking to put together some combinations, chasing Nurmagomedov around the Octagon looking to turn the tide in his favor. Nurmagomedov went for a takedown, but McGregor finally stuffed one before eating another big right hand. Nurmagomedov pressed him up against the cage, but McGregor was able to work his way out, where the two went to the center of the Octagon and traded shots. Not the best strategy for Nurmagomedov, but he was able to hang in the pocket and avoid McGregor’s death touch. The two locked up along the cage until the round came to an unceremonious close.
Heading into the championship rounds, it appeared that Nurmagomedov was up big on the judges scorecards. McGregor would need to dig deep and find a way to finish the fight. But, he just didn’t have enough in the tank — Nurmagomedov drained him bine dry. Nurmagomedov was once again able to score a takedown and then worked his way to back mount where he was able to sink in a fight-ending, rear-naked choke. It was clinical, it was methodical, it was brutal.
Shortly after McGregor tapped, Nurmagomedov lost his mind, chiding a defeated McGregor and then throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of McGregor’s corner before leaping the fence and going after McGregor’s training partner, Dillon Danis. Then all hell broke lose as a near riot broke out, with members from each team swinging on each other.
It was an ugly scene that marred an otherwise brilliant performance from Nurmagomedov, who will more than likely be hit with a hefty fine and lengthy suspension.
For complete UFC 229: “Khabib vs. McGregor” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.