UFC 229 tips: Best bets for Khabib v McGregor
Jack Green is back with his UFC tips for Saturday night's blockbuster fight in Las Vegas, plus the rest of the action from the main card.
Khabib Nurmagomedov v Conor McGregor
The Mac is back on Saturday night as he attempts to regain his UFC lightweight title.
It’s been over a year since McGregor lost to Floyd Mayweather by TKO in a boxing match, and nearly two years since his last UFC fight against Eddie Alvarez.
That kind of hiatus isn’t ideal ahead of a meeting with Khabib.
The champion has looked practically unstoppable in his 26-fight professional career, and he’s never lost a round in 10 UFC fights.
Khabib is arguably the most dominant wrestler in MMA. His 21 takedowns against Abel Trujillo in May 2013 is a UFC record for a single fight, and he does a huge amount of damage when he gets his opponent to the mat.
His style also wears his opponents down dramatically, which allows him to come on strong in the later rounds.
That’s a huge problem for McGregor, whose gas tank was an issue in both of his fights against Nate Diaz and his meeting with Mayweather last year.
The Irishman can put anyone out with a single left hand, but his power fades as he grows tired and, realistically, he’s only got a shot of winning this fight in the first two rounds.
Khabib’s chin has been tested before. He took plenty of lands from Michael Johnson in November 2016 and, while he looked unsteady momentarily, he made it through to secure a third-round submission.
Expect the Russian to land takedowns early on to neutralise McGregor’s power, and then secure victory in the third round when the challenger’s cardio problems arise again.
Tony Ferguson v Anthony Pettis
Ferguson has been booked in this spot in case one of the headliners is forced to pull out, and he can ensure the next shot at the title with an impressive performance.
El Cucuy should extend his winning streak to 11 fights by beating Pettis, a former lightweight champion who has lost five of his last eight fights.
Pettis is still an imaginative striker with a great ground game, but Ferguson just does everything slightly better than him at this point.
Back the 34-year-old to come away with an important decision victory.
Ovince Saint Preux v Dominick Reyes
This is a step up for Reyes, one of the top prospects in the light heavyweight division.
The 28-year-old is unbeaten in nine professional bouts, and he’s won all three of his UFC fights inside the distance – two by KO and one by submission.
In Saint Preux, he faces one of the most experienced light heavyweights in the UFC, with a professional record of 23-11.
The 35-year-old is a big puncher, but he’s been stopped twice in his career and will struggle to deal with the younger fighter’s power on this occasion.
Derrick Lewis v Alexander Volkov
There’s no way this fight between heavyweights with a combined total of 37 knockouts goes the distance.
Lewis has won back-to-back fights since he was beaten by Mark Hunt in 2017, but his last one – a decision win over former title challenger Francis Ngannou – was a complete snooze fest.
Volkov, meanwhile, is on a six-fight winning streak and knocked Fabricio Werdum out cold last time out in March.
The 29-year-old Russian has the momentum coming into this bout and is the more technically-sound fighter. He should manage to find a hole in Lewis’ defence and close this fight out in the first round.
Michelle Waterson v Felice Herrig
The main card opens with this striker v wrestler match-up, with Waterson likely to want to keep this fight on the feet.
‘The Karate Hottie’ is one of the better fighters in the strawweight division at striking from range, and she showed that in a decision win over Cortney Casey in April.
Herrig is a really good wrestler, but she was picked apart in a defeat to Karolina Kowalkiewicz six months ago, ending a run of four straight wins.
Waterson should follow a similar blueprint to Kowalkiewicz in this fight, maintaining the distance as much as possible and earning a narrow points victory.
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