There have been many great fights in UFC history, GSP Vs. Nick Diaz, Jon Jones Vs. Daniel Cormier 1, Tito Ortiz Vs. Chuck Liddell, and Ronda Rousey Vs. Miesha Tate 2. However, no fight that the UFC has ever put together has been a bigger deal than this Conor McGregor Vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight. There are multiple great fights on this card, but honestly, you’re not buying this card to watch anyone but Conor and Khabib.
Women’s Strawweight: Felice Herrig (-128) Vs. Michelle Waterson (+105)
Felice Herrig is 4-1 in her last five fights with her last defeat coming to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 223 by split decision. Her training camp in Illinois has been built to fit her needs to a T and in many respects that has been how some of the best fighters in the world have gotten to where they are now, I.E. Max Holloway and Stipe Miocic. Contrarily, Michelle Waterson trains out of MMA Supercamp Jackson/Wink Academy, which has come under much scrutiny since Donald Cerrone decided to leave the team after financial battles with Mike Winkeljohn. Michelle Waterson is 3-2 in the UFC with her shining performance coming back in 2016 when she defeated Paige VanZant via Submission. If Felice Herrig wins this fight, which I believe she will via decision, I can see the UFC pushing her more from a promotional standpoint, much like how they did with Paige VanZant (and Michelle Waterson to an extent). Felice Herrig Def. Michelle Waterson
Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis (+161) Vs. Alexander Volkov (-200)
Derrick Lewis Vs. Alexander Volkov is going to be either a masterful war or an absolute snoozefest. There will be no middle ground. Derrick Lewis is known as an absolute beast, hence his nickname “The Black Beast” but in his last fight with Francis Ngannou, he wasn’t even close to one, luckily for him, Ngannou was less of one and Lewis came away with the win. Before that fight, he was on a roll, going 7-1 with six finishes over top competition in Marcin Tybura, Shamil Abdurakhimov and Travis Browne, just to name a few. Alexander Volkov is a bit of a different story, he is tall and rangy and uses his physical attributes to win most of his fights, including his incredible victory over former training partner and champion Fabricio Werdum. I think that Volkov will be able to cause Lewis more problems than Lewis will be able to cause for Volkov. Alexander Volkov Def. Derrick Lewis
Light Heavyweight: Ovince St. Preux (+188) Vs. Dominick Reyes (-238)
I have both greatly overvalued and undervalued Ovince St. Preux’s skills, I had him defeating Ilir Latifi and he underachieved in that tilt and I had him winning against Tyson Pedro and he blew my socks off through the way he held his own over the early adversity. Now, from a career standpoint, Dominick Reyes is very similar in experience to Tyson Pedro, both are highly touted prospects and while Pedro was thrown to the wolves of the division early (Ilir Latifi at UFC 215) Reyes is being brought along much slower and is now 3-0 in the UFC while Pedro is now 3-2. I believe that this fight will end in the first round via Von Flue Choke and if you are a hardcore fan of the sport, you know who I’m picking without reading the rest of this paragraph. Ovince St. Preux Def. Dominick Reyes
Lightweight: Anthony Pettis (+297) Vs. Tony Ferguson (-400)
Anthony Pettis looked reinvigorated during his battle with Michael Chiesa at UFC 226, he reminded me of the Pettis of old. The Pettis who was an absolute worldbeater and had those crazy finishes over Joe Lauzon, Donald Cerrone, and Benson Henderson. His problem is that he now has to face the awkward style of Tony Ferguson. Ferguson was stripped of his Interim belt when he had to pull out of the UFC 223 fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov due to a freakish injury. Tony Ferguson is currently on a ten fight winning streak with impressive wins over Edson Barboza, Lando Vannata, and Kevin Lee just to name a few. His Jiu-Jitsu is incredible and is among the best in the UFC, let alone the Lightweight Division. Picking fighters who are coming off of big injuries are tough to do so I won’t be doing so, I’m taking the upset and Pettis to win via Decision. Anthony Pettis Def. Tony Ferguson
Lightweight: Conor McGregor (+143) Vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (-179)
Now for the big one. There has been bad blood in UFC rivalries before, with actions such as physical altercations, words about the other parties family and even career sabotage. However, there has never been a crowd of 30 Irishmen flying halfway across the world to attack a bus carrying a UFC title challenger and half of the fighters fighting on a card quickly approaching because the challenger got in a sparring partner’s face in a hotel. That has never happened… until UFC 223. Conor and his team broke into the building housing the UFC pre-fight press event in Brooklyn and threw a dolly at the bus, breaking the window and hurling Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg off the card and attempted to throw a trash can at the same bus, thus beginning #McGregorGarbageCanBrokenBusWindowGate. This rivalry is on another level.
Some other pieces to take note of before the fight:
To begin with, this will be the first time that the UFC has decided to co-promote a card and they will be doing so with McGregor Promotions. Now, personally, I hate this move. This kinda thing is what made Boxing so corrupt, when promotions work together on similar cards, often times, the correct thing to do can get lost in translation and corruption, it’s the reason why Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez ended in a draw when Golovkin obviously should’ve won. I’m also not saying this just because it’s Conor either. Donald Cerrone has a fighting promotion and I’d hate it if he co-promoted with the UFC also. It just leads to sketchiness in sports and we all need less of that (I’m looking at you NCAA).
Secondly, Conor McGregor will have his personal whiskey business Proper Twelve be a sponsor of the event and the logo will be prominently placed on the canvas as well as other promotional materials. Now, I’m all for this, only if it’s not exclusive for Conor, If TJ Dillashaw can’t promote his seasoning company, Flavor Republic, as a current champion, then the sport is going further in the wrong direction.
Thirdly, Dana White and the entire UFC/WME team obviously wants Conor to win the fight and Khabib to lose. Just like he wanted Francis Ngannou to defeat Stipe Miocic at UFC 220, just like how he wanted Tyron Woodley to be defeated by every single one of his opponents. McGregor means money and that means he can do anything he wants to and have little to no repercussions (See bus incident above). As I’ve stated on Twitter regarding the NYC UFC 229 Press Conference “Dana’s soul is owned by Conor McGregor”. If he wanted to, Conor could wave a gun at the crowd and Dana would be like “Here’s a Welterweight title shot for ya”” It’s obvious and Khabib should know by now, much like Stipe knew before UFC 220, and if he wins don’t allow White to place the belt around your waist. Hell, even on UFC Embedded, they still refer to Conor McGregor as a “Two Weight World Champion” when the correct terminology is to add former in front of that title. Seriously, people who aren’t hardcore fans are gonna watch the fight and not realize that Conor is no longer the champion when Bruce Buffer makes his announcements. This fight is not only going to be historic inside the cage, but it will be outside of it as well.
I’ve Flip-Flopped on picking this fight since the fight has been announced. I thought about how Conor McGregor was able to neutralize Chad Mendes’ wrestling skills very effectively after the first round and finished him in the second. I thought about what Khabib Nurmagomedov did to Abel Trujillo back at UFC 160, where he set the record for the most takedowns during a UFC Fight. I thought about how Conor was able to get inside the heads of all of his high-quality opponents i.e. Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. I thought about Khabib’s slick Kimura that he scored against Michael Johnson in a fight where he was heckling Dana White while in action. I was stuck for a while, unable to pick a winner. Then I caught wind of an interview between Ariel Helwani and Khabib’s coach Javier Mendes. Mendes stated that not only has Khabib never been submitted in training, but he had also never lost a round in sparring. And Mendes’ praises seemed to have been echoed from American Kickboxing Academy training partners Josh Thomson, Daniel Cormier, and Luke Rockhold. Now, if there is one fighter that I’ve been taught not to doubt, it’s Conor McGregor, I’m gonna do it one more time. Khabib Nurmagomedov Def. Conor McGregor
Flyweight: Sergio Pettis (-152) Def. Jussier Formiga (+124)
Welterweight: Vicente Luque (-909) Def. Jalin Turner (+569)
Women’s Bantamweight: Tonya Evinger (+136) Def. Aspen Ladd (-167)
Lightweight: Alan Patrick (-263) Def. Scott Holtzman (+206)
Women’s Bantamweight: Yana Kunitskaya (-208) Def. Lina Lansberg (+167)
Lightweight: Nik Lentz (-250) Def. Gray Maynard (+197)
Welterweight: Ryan LaFlare (-141) Def. Tony Martin (+116)