What a night, am I right? Saturday lived up to all the hype and with a couple of days to re watch and analyze everything, I am ready to recap and share my thoughts.
I want to first acknowledge great performances by Michelle Waterson, up-and-comer Dominick Reyes and Derrick Lewis, not just for his fight but for his amazing interview with Joe Rogan after. They were all winners and were amazing, but I am going to focus on the Main Event and Co-Main Event.
Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis
First of all, I think most people will agree with me when I say, fight of the night. This was an absolute battle, you couldn’t have asked for a better fight. Pettis looked like his old wild self, having fun out there and Ferguson looked back to normal even after a major knee injury. The fight was back and forth and at the beginning of the second round Pettis landed a couple big blows and both him and Ferguson were bleeding all over each other. They were both covered in blood and just kept going at it. Both doing crazy rolls and somersaults, Ferguson even did Pettis’s signature punch after jumping off the cage. In between the second and third rounds, the fight was called due to Pettis breaking his hand at some point in the second round. Tony Ferguson got the win in an amazing battle. Now, while I do believe Tony deserves his shot at the title (which I’ll speak more on later), I would love to see a rematch between these two. I wish it could have went another round, but this was one hell of a fight.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
As a huge Conor fan, this was a hard fight to watch and I am going to be as unbiased as possible. Before I touch on the post-fight mess, which I will, let’s focus on the actual fight. Khabib did exactly what I said was a huge possibility, he got this fight to the ground within the first 30 seconds of the first round. Khabib won the first round but I was surprised with Conor, he did pretty well on the ground and didn’t take much damage. The second round is where Khabib took full control. Khabib was standing with Conor and then out of no where lands a devastating right hand and knocked Conor down. From there on Khabib mauled Conor on the ground, the judges ruled this round 10-8 Khabib and I completely agree. The third round Conor showed some signs of life, but it was clear something was missing. He was landing some shots but his timing was off and the snap in his punches wasn’t there due to being gassed. The shots landed and fighting off the takedown attempts was enough for Conor to win this round, but I was still very worried. The fourth round Khabib was back in control. He took Conor down once again and maneuvered his way to getting Conor in a submission, a neck crank, and Conor tapped.
I gained a whole lot of respect for Khabib on Saturday. He smashed my boy, just like he said he would. He is a genius wrestler and the best wrestler in the history of the UFC. As for Conor, the time off from UFC hurt him. You could tell something was just off about him even from the beginning. Conor’s coach, John Kavanagh, said most of Conor’s camp was dedicated to defense and he wishes he could go back and be more offensive minded. That mixed with the time off are probably the reasons his timing was off and he just didn’t look like the McGregor we are used to. Conor will probably get a rematch because that will make the most money, but I think Tony Ferguson deserves the next shot at Khabib. Conor should have to fight another non-title fight before he gets another shot. He didn’t show me anything to warrant an immediate rematch, but since there is a narrative with Conor and Khabib, and it will make the most money, that rematch will most likely happen before Tony gets his shot at the title. Conor can beat Khabib with the right strategy, but will he find that strategy and put it to good use in the octagon? Only time will tell.
Conor made it clear the he wants a rematch and that the “war goes on” with these social media posts after the fight:
Now for the events that broke out after the fight. Right after Conor tapped, Khabib got up and was clearly talking some shit to Conor and had to be separated by Herb Dean. After his focus left Conor, it went to Conor’s corner. Khabib launched his mouthpiece in the direction of Conor’s team and exchanged words with Conor’s Jiu-Jitsu coach Dillion Danis. After a few words Khabib launched himself out of the octagon and threw a flying kick at Danis. Both landed shots and a huge fight between the teams broke out outside the cage. While that was happening Khabib’s cousin hopped on top of the octagon and Conor threw a punch at him. After that two men from Khabib’s camp jumped in the ring, one approached and hit Conor from the front and another snuck him from behind. The men were separated and later arrested but released after Conor declined to press charges. After all the madness was done both fighters were escorted backstage. Khabib pleaded for his belt but Dana White refused, he went on to say he feared that people would launch things into the octagon if he put the belt on Khabib. It was truly insane. We will have to see how the Nevada State Athletic Commission handles this situation. Dana White said there will most likely be heavy fines and maybe a suspension for Khabib. Khabib’s suspension will decide the future of the Lightweight division. Dana White did announce on October 10th that Khabib will NOT be stripped of the title, so that may be a promising sign that Khabib will either not be suspended or it will not be long.
My thoughts on this are that Conor, Khabib and the UCF are to blame for this. Khabib robbed himself of what should have been a great moment, getting to have his hand raised and his belt put on him. Instead, he gave into Dillion’s trash-talking and acted very out of character. However, I understand why he did it. As a Conor fan, I can admit he crossed some lines with his pre-fight trash-talk. He called out Khabib’s religion, father, country and many other things, the UFC needs to not allow that kind of stuff to be disrespected going forward because that’s how this stuff happens. Conor also did something even worse by throwing a dolly through a bus window injuring multiple people, so the UFC and even most Conor fans sound hypocritical acting like Khabib is some horrible person for this. They both are wrong, Conor did things, Khabib did things, no one is innocent and that includes the UFC for allowing this. The UFC literally used footage of Conor committing criminal acts in the promo for this fight, and now they’re gonna pretend to be disgusted by this? Come on. We all know if the rematch happens, which it most likely will, the footage of what happened on Saturday will 110% be used in that fight’s promo. Dana White has to pretend to be disgusted and upset but he is most likely ecstatic. Sure some people will be turned away by this, but no real UFC fan will turn away because of this and most people won’t care that much, but all it did was make the rematch even more marketable.
Khabib took to Instagram to joke around with Dana White:
But then earlier today, October 11th, Khabib sent the UFC a message saying if his teammates involved in the post-fight melee are cut, he will also leave the UFC:
It will be interesting seeing the next chapter in both of these men’s lives, careers and rivalry.
UFC 229 was extremely entertaining and I definitely had fun watching, even though I had to watch my favorite fighter lose. Going forward UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden just landed a main event of Daniel Cormier vs Derrick Lewis for the Heavyweight Championship but lost Dustin Poirier, who was set to fight Nate Diaz, due to an undisclosed injury. UFC 231 features Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega for the Featheweight Championship. And in an announcement made on October 10th, Jon “Bones” Jones will make his UFC return to rematch Alexander Gustafsson for the Light Heavyweight Championship on December 29th at UFC 232. All 3 cards have other great fights but I look forward to seeing the amazing matches I mentioned, a very strong way to end the year.