UFC 229 Predictions

It’s almost upon us! UFC 229 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card (PPV)

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor

After several years of anticipating that this fight would one day happen we’re finally here, and it’s going to be fascinating to see who comes out on top on Saturday night.

It’s hard not to look at this fight as being a classic striker vs grappler match-up, and we’re looking at two of the very best in the business in their chosen skill-sets.

In McGregor’s case that is particularly significant as his speed, ability to pick out the right strikes at the right time even from unusual angles and situations, his calmness under pressure and his power means that one wrong move from Nurmagomedov as he moves into range for a takedown could cost him dearly.

We’ve seen before that McGregor can capitalize on split-second opportunities, such as when he landed a counter KO strike just 13 seconds into his fight with Jose Aldo, or when he made the most of a rare chance to get up off the mat and strike during his fight with Chad Mendes and put him away.

Nevertheless, Nurmagomedov is absolutely going to be coming at McGregor relentlessly in pursuit of the takedown and his cardio means he can keep doing that for the full five rounds. Even if he gets clipped, if he’s not KO’d his countless years of wrestling means he’ll instinctively go for the clinch or takedown to buy himself time to recover.

Meanwhile he’ll be far more aggressive than Mendes was when he gets the Irishman down as he has vicious ground and pound and is extremely difficult to get out from under once he’s in control.

We’ve seen fighters wilt under that kind of sustained assault in the past from Khabib, and I think that’s going to be a big concern for McGregor as his cardio has been suspect before and it’ll be tiring having to constantly grapple with ‘The Eagle.’

As such I think by the second and third round if Nurmagomedov’s wrestling is effective then he’ll have already taken some of the sting out of McGregor’s ability to strike and to defend further takedowns, which will enable him to exert even more pressure and control over his bitter rival.

McGregor is the man for the big occasion so anything is possible here and he could absolutely catch Khabib on the way in and put him to sleep, but I think it’s more likely that Nurmagomedov is able to implement his gameplan and dominate McGregor from start to finish, potentially stepping things up in the final round to secure a TKO victory via ground and pound.

Khabib Nurmagomedov wins by TKO in Rd5

Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis

Ferguson has already won 10-fights in a row, yet he’s still falling just short of getting the full title shot that he deserves and so he has to go up a former champion in Pettis instead.

Pettis has lost his ways since the days when he won the title although he did look more his old self last time out against Michael Chiesa.

Still, it’s Ferguson who has the momentum heading into this fight and his aggressive, unrelenting offensive style could cramp Pettis’ style as he likes space and time to do his best work on the feet.

What makes Ferguson particularly dangerous is that he transitions very smoothly through all the aspects of MMA and that means Pettis has to be on his guard for potentialy takedown and submission attempts at any moment as ‘El Cucuy’ is every bit as offensively minded on the mat as on the feet.

This style is risky though and does leave Ferguson open to being countered and Pettis certainly has the skill and technique to capitalize on his defensive liabilities, and he shouldn’t be underestimated on the mat either.

nevertheless, I do feel that Ferguson will be pushing a harder pace, landing more shots and giving Pettis all he can handle on the mat here. A finish is possible, but Pettis may survive only to see Ferguson emerge as the victor on the scorecards.

Tony Ferguson wins by decision.

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Dominick Reyes

Reyes is unbeaten in his MMA career to date and has looked to be a rising force in his UFC fights to date, but now he’s facing his toughest test yet against Saint-Preux.

In some respects these two are built from similar stock – former football players who are athletically gifted and have a physical presence, but in terms of striking I’d say Reyes is more technically sound, has more destructive power and is continuing to improve over time.

OSP has more experience when it comes to fights that go beyond the first round though and he’s proven to have an aptitude for submissions when the fight hits the floor, which should be a definite concern for Reyes.

It’s a bit risky picking Reyes as he’s unproven at this level, but even though the fight is likely to last longer than he’s used to I think he shows a lot of talent and will rise the occasion, outstriking OSP to emerge with a second round TKO victory.

Dominick Reyes to win by TKO in Rd2.

Derrick Lewis vs. Alexander Volkov

Two heavyweights who are used to emerging victorious collide here with Lewis looking to make his knockout power count against the Russian Volkov, who has looked better than ever in his UFC run to date.

Volkov can land punishing blows too, but with his height and reach advantage he’s well suited to operating on the outside, landing hard kicks and punches that might not stop Lewis immediately, but over time will take their toll.

I think ‘The Black Beast’ will struggle to deal with getting inside on Volkov and will find himself at a distinct technical disadvantage here, which will eventually catch up with him as he gets picked apart and finished by TKO in the third round.

Alexander Volkov to win by TKO in Rd3.

Michelle Waterson vs. Felice Herrig

This is a well matched fight between two veteran strawweight fighters who are keen to push further back up the top 10 rankings.

Technically Waterson is the superior striker and her speed and movement will be important factors here, but on the other hand Herrig has sharpened up her striking and is likely to be the more aggressive, throws with more power and though still somewhat predictable with her output, she does look to land counters.

Waterson can also handle herself on the mat, but I feel Herrig may prove to be just a touch strong and more crafty when it comes to scrambles and submission attempts, which together with a higher octane approach on the feet will be just enough to edge her way to a victory on the scorecards.

Felice Herrig to win by decision.

Prelims (FOX Sports 1) {Predicted winners in bold]

Sergio Pettis vs. Jussier Formiga
Vincente Luque vs. Jalin Turner
Aspen Ladd vs. Tonya Evinger
Scott Holtzman vs. Alan Patrick

Prelims (UFC Fight Pass)

Ryan LaFlare vs. Tony Martin
Lina Lansberg vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Gray Maynard vs. Nik Lentz

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.