It’s been dubbed the biggest fight in UFC history.
Conor McGregor will make his long-anticipated return to the Octagon on Saturday to wrestle with the undefeated holder of the lightweight belt, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
There’s no love lost between the two giants of the division, evidenced by their bitter interactions in the lead-up to Saturday’s main event.
Here’s everything you need to know about a stacked card that UFC president Dana White projects will shatter revenue records:
UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor
Saturday, Oct. 6
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Main card: 10 p.m. ET
|Lightweight title||Khabib Nurmagomedov (C) vs. Conor McGregor|
|Lightweight||Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis|
|Light Heavyweight||Ovince Saint Preux vs. Dominick Reyes|
|Heavyweight||Derrick Lewis vs. Alexander Volkov|
|Women’s Strawweight||Michelle Waterson vs. Felice Herrig|
Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) vs. Conor McGregor (21-3)
Finally, some clarity for the lightweight division.
McGregor first became the king of the division by KO’ing Eddie Alvarez in November 2016. What followed was a whirlwind.
Due to McGregor’s inactivity in the mixed martial arts realm, an interim title was put on the line and won by Tony Ferguson at UFC 216 in October 2017. Following the bout, there was expectation that McGregor and Ferguson would meet for a unification fight. However, Ferguson underwent elbow surgery, putting him on the shelf for the rest of 2017.
A Ferguson-Nurmagomedov title fight was booked for UFC 223 in April until Ferguson again hit the shelf with a torn LCL.
Finally, Nurmagomedov fought and defeated Al Iaquinta for the interim belt at UFC 223, setting up Saturday’s super showdown. It will be the first time the division title will be defended in almost two years.
Nurmagomedov-McGregor is expected to settle a long-held debate as to who truly deserves the crown. Khabib possesses an intimidating record and has yet to lose a round in his professional career. He’s currently the betting favorite to retain the title.
Yet, McGregor is no stranger to shocking the world. He starched former featherweight champ Jose Aldo in 2015, ending his four-year reign in 14 seconds, then moved up a weight class and topped Alvarez in 2016 to become a two-weight champion.
McGregor maintains he is the true lightweight champ and argues Nurmagomedov’s record isn’t what it appears.
“You beat the guy ranked No. 11, a real estate agent,” McGregor said, of the win over Iaquinta, at the first UFC 229 press conference. “You bring that belt up on stage like it’s a real belt? You’re a phony, a fake, and I’m going to expose you.”
Nurmagomedov chastised McGregor for his boxing stint in the summer of 2017 when he took on world champion Floyd Mayweather.
Then there’s the bus incident. McGregor showed up at UFC 223 media day and threw a hand dolly through the window of a bus carrying fighters, including Nurmagomedov. As a result, McGregor was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. The charges were reduced to disorderly conduct and he was spared jail time.
This rivalry – which spans fight camps, nationalities, and New York law – will finally come to a resolution on Saturday.
Tony Ferguson (25-3) vs. Anthony Pettis (21-7)
Speaking of the lightweight division, Ferguson will attempt to climb from No. 2 to No. 1-contender status when he takes on No. 9-ranked Anthony Pettis.
The matchup features two former lightweight champions known for wading through battles of attrition.
Ferguson is riding an impressive 10-fight win streak that dates back to 2013, yet, his next bout will come a day short of a calendar year since his last fight – when he won the interim title over Kevin Lee.
This week, Fergusonabout how his title was taken from him. He’ll be making his return five months after his knee injury – doctors said it would take a year.
Since losing an interim featherweight title fight with Max Holloway in 2016, Pettis has topped Jim Miller, lost a thriller to Dustin Poirier, and responded with a submission win over Michael Chiesa in his past three bouts. He’s looking to vault into title contention.
Ovince Saint Preux (22-11) vs. Dominick Reyes (9-0)
Prospect Dominick Reyes will get his biggest test yet when he steps up in class to face the experienced Ovince Saint Preux.
The 29-year-old will get the most exposure of his young career, teeing up the co-main event. He’s gone 9-0 with only one of those fights lasting longer than a single round. He’s 3-0 since stepping into the UFC and has won each of his fights in impressive fashion, with two first-round KO victories and another one via submission.
Saint Preux is no stranger to stoppages himself. Only five of his 17 fights in the UFC have gone to the scorecards.
The 35-year-old holds the experience advantage and has won four of his last five bouts, including a first-round submission of Tyson Pedro in June.
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