In-depth: UFC 229 – The fight and the fallout

On October 6th, Khabib Nurmagomedov exacted a one-sided beating of Conor McGregor over four rounds to make his premier defence of the lightweight championship, but unfortunately, it’s the Dagestani’s actions after Herb Dean peeled him off McGregor that will forever take away from his incredible performance. I will break down the fight specifics, and then detail the confirmed events after the final bell, and what implications and next steps will be on the cards.

The Fight

McGregor, in my opinion, looked almost too tentative to pull the trigger on Khabib. When he wasn’t on his butt at the fence, it was clear he was obviously wary of Nurmagomedov’s incredible wrestling pedigree. However, it was Conor who landed the first real shot of the bout, circling Khabib onto a left hand in the opening seconds. An early, low single dive from Khabib seen him lock onto Conor’s ankle to counteract any immediate danger. McGregor initially defended well, keeping his balance but Khabib eventually elevated his leg and scored his first takedown after scuttling to the fence. Conor was initially controlling the posture of Khabib to prevent his devastating ground and pound. Khabib spent the remainder of the round in Conor’s half guard, with the Dubliner unable to scramble as expected by many.

Conor looked a tad wild with his striking at the beginning of the second, and his usual creative movement was scarce. After a brief exchange between the two, Conor searched for that stiff uppercut implemented against Nate Diaz in their first meeting, but Khabib managed to evade the shot, forcing Conor to the mat for the second time courtesy of a high crotch single leg.

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Real trouble set in once again for Conor, as Khabib, now working from a stacked guard, began raining down heavy shots on his opponent forcing him to give up his guard momentarily. Herb Dean watched closely as Conor began to cover up with the finish in sight. Khabib then transitioned to half guard once more, looking to step over into side control where he ate an illegal knee from the Irishman. Pointing out the illegal shot to Dean, the renowned referee called for the action to continue.

The second round again went in Khabib’s favour based on activity, with Conor sneering after defending a single leg before the klaxon.

The third round approached with Khabib bizarrely electing to stand with Conor for the opening exchanges. Conor looked incredibly tentative to throw as Khabib kept inside the pocket where Conor stuffed a double leg attempt before landing an elbow and a knee to the body in the resulting clinch.

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Conor was once again forced to defend against the fence, doing so admirably and again found a home for a knee to the body. Khabib then ate an uppercut, showing a granite chin and calling Conor forward after landing a left hand of his own upstairs. Forced to the ground for a moment via an outside trip, Conor eventually got back to his feet and scored another illegal shot, this time landing to the back of Khabib’s head.

Khabib’s decision to stand with the counter striker, ultimately seen his thirty round’s of dominance snapped as McGregor took the third on all three scorecards.

Conor started the fourth (and soon to be fight-ending round) on the front foot, forcing Khabib onto a left hand from the Dubliner. Khabib was certainly affected by those stabbing teep kicks to the solar plexus by McGregor, finding his target early in the fourth, but another solid entry from the Sambo specialist resulted in yet another demoralizing takedown against McGregor.

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Unable to find a way under the neck, Khabib tightened a neck crank with McGregor tapping. Eventually releasing after some prying from Herb Dean, Khabib began talking to a seated McGregor…

The Fallout

After his back and forth with Conor, Khabib fired his mouthpiece towards the fence where McGregor’s corner was seated as he was insulted by McGregor’s BJJ partner, Dillon Danis. The Russian then scaled the Octagon and leaped toward the former Marcelo Garcia prodigy, with a scuffle breaking out among the pair.

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Rising back to his feet, McGregor attempted to follow suit and hopped onto the Octagon fence where he was restrained by security, before throwing a left hand at Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Conor then found himself at odds with two more members of the Nurmagomedov camp as an unknown assailant made an attempt to confront the Dubliner, but was met with a left hand.

During this exchange, UFC Featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov made his way over the fence and landed a couple of shots to the back of a defenceless McGregor, who was then eventually tackled by the second member of Team Khabib. Coach John Kavanagh managed to cause some separation.

Khabib’s fellow AKA members, Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier looked to defuse the delicate situation with Khabib, who was now demanding his UFC lightweight championship, something promotion president Dana White refused to avoid any further fracas within the hatred and alcohol-fuelled Vegas crowd. In the meantime, McGregor was escorted out of the Octagon and backstage, opting to miss the post-fight interview.

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Khabib eventually left the cage under high-security scrutiny, although without his title with Dana White expecting a raining of objects into the Octagon if the Dagestani was presented with the title, especially due to the large Irish contingency. Instead, Bruce Buffer announced the official decision as the crowd and trio of commentators tried to wrap their head’s around what they had just witnessed.

The Aftermatch and Opinion

As of Monday, Khabib’s cheque has been frozen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while Conor has been paid his fight purse in full. Three members from Nurmagomedov’s entourage have been arrested and subsequently released after McGregor elected against pressing charges.

However, the NSAC are currently reviewing footage of the incident inside the T-Mobile Arena with a strict punishment expected to be trashed down to Nurmagomedov, particularly after the commission governor was escorted from the building.

Going off my gut feeling, I believe the commission will issue Khabib with some sort of ban and financial sting. A VISA to enter the United States, the home of his occupation has been called into question, with many wondering if the Russian will have his current one revoked or will struggle to receive one in the future.

On the other hand, I fully expect Khabib to be stripped of his lightweight crown – disappointing considering his spur of the moment post-fight antics may have just cost him his well-deserved legacy and the accolade he strived since his Octagon bow.

The next legitimate contender emerged from the fold on Saturday night as well as the former interim king, Tony Ferguson sliced up Anthony Pettis to extend his win streak to eleven straight fights. With a spine-tingling and fight of the night winning performance that had the Vegas masses on their feet, it would be difficult to refuse “El Cucuy” a legitimate shot at the official strap. He will be no doubt held in high regard by the UFC brass after such a positive performance on the opposite side of the UFC 229 spectrum. Don’t be surprised if the UFC book Ferguson vs. McGregor for a vacant title if Khabib gets stripped, a dire straits of a matchup for Conor in my opinion.

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At this stage in his career, with two losses in his last four Octagon appearances, a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz regardless of the Stockton son’s outcome against Dustin Poirier at MSG in November, not only offers a considerable paycheck, a chance for Conor to ignite the fire that once was before the Mayweather meeting. But not to mention, it would offer also a safer route to UFC immortality.

On reflection, the UFC was undoubtedly dragged through the mud by the incident after the UFC 229 main event. On arguably their biggest stage yet, the promotion may have lost a chunk of hard-earned legitimacy on the world stage, and will feel a dent in the commodity for their lightweight stars should the commission follow through with the strictest punishments possible. In a year of struggle for star power, it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out.

How do you think this will end? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?..

Opinion: Ferguson vs. Pettis – What Will Go Down?

The stacked card what is UFC 229 not only features arguably the biggest main event in UFC history as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor finally throw leather, but another pair of stud title challengers at 155lbs will meet in the co-headliner. Grappling ace Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson returns from his April knee injury against exciting striking specialist Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis.

Looking to add another notch to his incredible ten-fight win streak, longtime division mainstay, Ferguson secured an interim crown against the dangerous Kevin Lee in his most recent UFC outing. After slapping a triangle on Lee, Ferguson earned a unification clash for the vacant championship against Khabib at UFC 223. Unfortunately, this was not to come to fruition as Ferguson tore his LCL after tripping over a monitor cable whilst carrying out media obligations ahead of his Barclays Centre appearance.

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On the other hand, after enduring the toughest stint of his professional mixed-martial-arts career in recent years, one-time WEC and UFC Lightweight kingpin Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis recently returned to winning ways with an eye-catching triangle armbar victory over Michael Chiesa.

The Roufusport product has an immense, often overlooked Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu base, but in fights alongside Joe Lauzon, Danny Castillo and veteran ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, the Milwaukee native used his sublime Taekwondo ability to dispatch the trio. Both Pettis brothers feature at UFC 229, with younger sibling, Sergio Pettis meeting Brazil’s Jussier Formiga in an important flyweight three-rounder.

Pettis

Despite Ferguson’s tendency to fight “long” and stick with a lengthy jab used in the Rafael dos Anjos fight, I believe “Showtime” may hold the trump card in any striking exchanges, particularly in the pocket. Pettis is arguably the more creative and dynamic between the pair with a wide array of kicking techniques in his arsenal.

One thing Ferguson will bring on Saturday night is his constant offensive pressure and long combinations. While both possess a resounding offensive grappling background, 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu protege Ferguson holds a wicked guard.

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Another posing question in this one is the current condition of Ferguson’s knee. Returning for the first time since April, I’d imagine Pettis to target calf kicks, particularly on the inside to buckle Ferguson’s recently healed knee, united with the incorporation of oblique kicks which will hyperextend and eventually halt forward pressure from the Oxnard native.

I think Pettis manages to get the job done against Tony and continue his resurgence to a potential second title tilt.

Anthony Pettis via split decision.

Report: Khabib vs. McGregor Press Conference Heading To NYC

UFC 229 will have host it’s premier media day press conference next Thursday in New York City ahead of it’s fast approaching October 6th date. Event headliners Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor will meet face to face for the first time since their highly publicised fracas at the Barclays Centre last April.

ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto offered an update on what feels like a genuinely mismanaged promotional campaign as he confirmed the first official press event at Radio City Music Hall next Thursday evening. A McGregor media tour usually offers a merry-go-round of insults and memorable catchphrases, but also a masterclass of mental warfare in which the Dubliner often tends to beat his opponent before they meet in the Octagon.

Khabib and McGregor are sworn rivals dating back to their backstage clash at UFC 205. Dagestani Khabib, called out the SBG product after a dominant win over Michael Johnson, attempting to comprehend how McGregor was at the time warranted a title shot despite losing to Nate Diaz earlier in the year and making his lightweight debut that night. McGregor secured the Lightweight crown that same night in November, stopping Eddie Alvarez convincingly in the second round.

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A 2017 expedition into the boxing world against Floyd Mayweather extended McGregor’s hiatus from the cage, followed by the birth of his son, Conor Jr. October will mark his return to the sport after a two-year absence.

Expect a huge security presence at next Thursday’s media day presser. Both fighters are known to travel with hefty entourages which have been chomping at the bit to get into it with each other in the recent months. I would imagine the UFC will be pulling out all of the stops security-wise, as this is a precious and highly anticipated fight.

Michael Chiesa files law suit against Conor McGregor and Barclays Center following UFC 223 bus incident

Despite the ongoing preparations for his monumental UFC 229 title clash with arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov, lightweight contender Conor McGregor’s legal troubles away from the Octagon appear to have reared their head once again.

The Dubliner’s criminal case for his involvement in the UFC 223 bus attack in the Barclays Centre at the end of July is now over, but one of the blue corner fighters involved in the incident, Michael Chiesa, has initiated civil legal proceedings against ‘The Notorious’ one.

Continue reading “Michael Chiesa files law suit against Conor McGregor and Barclays Center following UFC 223 bus incident”

Report: Floyd Mayweather offers Conor McGregor training assistance ahead of upcoming Khabib clash

A former opponent of UFC lightweight contender, Conor McGregor has surprisingly offered to help him attempt to reclaim the 155 lbs championship in his upcoming match with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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Opinion: Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor (Part 1) – Khabib’s Gameplan

Arguably the single biggest mixed martial arts bout in history has finally got a confirmed date. On October 6th, “Sin City” will play host to a lightweight grudge match between the so far un-rivalled champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov and the sports biggest household name: Conor McGregor.

Continue reading “Opinion: Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor (Part 1) – Khabib’s Gameplan”

José Aldo vs. Jeremy Stephens: What Will Go Down?

Arguably the greatest featherweight in history returns to the Octagon this weekend at UFC Fight Night Calgary as Manaus favourite, José Aldo meets the heavy hitting rankings climber Jeremy Stephens in the co-main event.

A win for Aldo may instate him as the rightful contender for the 145lbs championship after Max Holloway and Brian Ortega throw down, while former lightweight challenger Stephens has reinvented himself a weight lower and is on the cusp of his premier UFC title tilt.

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Report: Conor McGregor Sentenced to 5 Days Community Service & Anger Management

Former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor appeared in a New York City court today for the third occasion.

This time, he was issued his sentencing and verdict for his part in the UFC 223 bus attack in the Barclays Centre.

Continue reading “Report: Conor McGregor Sentenced to 5 Days Community Service & Anger Management”

News: Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman II in the works for UFC 230

The UFC Middleweight division appears to be on the cusp of a major shuffle come November, as UFC 230 will not only see a clash between Jacaré Souza and former WSOF phenom David Branch, but also, first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, a mouth watering rematch between former title holders Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman, who will lock horns once more after their UFC 194 title tilt.

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Opinion: Curtis Millender vs. Max Griffin – what will go down?

An intriguing welterweight clash opens up the Fox Sports 1 Prelims of UFC 226 this weekend.

Well rounded Curtis Millender faces the powerful California native Max ‘Pain’ Griffin, with both men looking to firmly establish themselves as potential contenders at 170lbs.

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