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UFC 229 - Fight by Fight


There's no hyperbole in calling the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor the most anticipated fight of 2018. Nurmagomedov has been an unstoppable wrecking machine since first arriving in the UFC, where he's rattled off 10 straight wins without ever losing a single round en route to becoming the 155-pound champion. Meanwhile, McGregor is the biggest superstar in the history of the sport, but his reputation isn't just built on being the best trash talker in the UFC. McGregor has built a gaudy resume filled with numerous high profile wins while also becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history. McGregor has been away from the Octagon for nearly two years and he's anxiously awaiting the chance to get back the title he never lost in competition. The fight really brings together the best of mixed martial arts, as Nurmagomedov will undoubtedly look to employ his world-class wrestling and devastating ground game while McGregor will attempt to showcase his devastating speed, power and accuracy on the feet. This is one for the ages and it all goes down on Saturday night from Las Vegas.

Former interim champion Tony Ferguson will return after an unfortunate knee injury knocked him out of a lightweight title fight back in April. A madman in recovery, Ferguson sped through his rehabilitation to get ready for his next fight, where he faces another former champion in Anthony "Showtime" Pettis. While Pettis has endured some dramatic ups and downs over the past few years, the veteran lightweight has really started to put things together recently, including his win over Michael Chiesa in his most recent outing. Now Pettis will need every tool in his arsenal - including his highlight reel striking - to deal with Ferguson, who might just be the most well rounded fighter in the entire lightweight division.

As a select few fighters continue to rule the top of the light heavyweight division, especially with the imminent return of Jon Jones, Ovince Saint Preux and Dominick Reyes are determined to make a case for entry into the top five rankings with their fight this weekend. Saint Preux has fought the best of the best in this division for years but he's stumbled in some of his bigger opportunities. Now he's taking on arguably one of the best prospect the 205-pound division has seen in years as Reyes looks to build on his undefeated record while racking up several impressive finishes since arriving in the UFC. The winner of this fight will take a huge step forward in this division, so don't blink when Saint Preux and Reyes start throwing bombs on Saturday night.

With the heavyweight division looking for another top contender to vie for the title, Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov will clash in a pivotal matchup at UFC 229. Lewis has gone 8-1 in his past nine fights, including two victories in a row, as he gets dangerously close to title contention. Volkov is coming off a huge win of his own over former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum while going 4-0 thus far in his UFC career. The real question in this fight will be Volkov using his technical prowess while going up against one of the most powerful heavyweights the division has ever known in Lewis. Plus, the heavyweights rarely let the judges get involved so this should be a barnburner on the main card.

The strawweight division has flourished into one of the most talent rich weight classes in the sport, with veterans like Michelle Waterson and Felice Herrig being a big part of that evolution. Waterson has knocked on the door of title contention previously and she's coming off a statement win in her last fight against Cortney Casey. As for Herrig, she will look to bounce back after losing a heartbreaking split decision in her last fight to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Both Waterson and Herrig have something to prove in this fight and they will get the chance to show it when they clash in the first fight on the Pay-Per-View main card.

In a pivotal fight at flyweight that could have title implications on the line, Sergio Pettis will look to build on his last win over Joseph Benavidez when he faces off with submission specialist Jussier Formiga. Of course, Pettis is well known for his incredible striking acumen, where he displays speed and accuracy like few can in the 125-pound division. On the other hand, Formiga is a world-class grappler with some of the slickest submissions in the sport. This is truly a battle of striker versus grappler and it will be interesting to see who can implement their game plan at UFC 229.

Known as one of the most devastating finishers in the welterweight division, Vicente Luque will look to add another win to his record when he takes on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series veteran Jalin Turner. Luque is a nasty grappler with huge knockout power, so he's going to be dangerous no matter where this fight happens. Turner is no slouch, with finishes in all seven of his professional wins. In other words, pencil in this welterweight showdown as a potential Fight of the Night show stealer.

Undefeated women's bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd will attempt to get her second win in the UFC when she takes on former Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger. Ladd has long been considered one of the top rising stars in the women's 135-pound division and she proved why with a TKO win over Lina Lansberg last October. Now Ladd will face off with a true veteran of the sport as Evinger moves down to a more natural 135 pounds after making her first appearance in the UFC in a title fight against featherweight queen Cris Cyborg.

Lina Lansberg has bounced back and forth between wins and losses since first arriving in the UFC, but she'll try to find some consistency when she goes for her second victory in a row against Yana Kunitskaya, who, like Evinger and Waterson, is a former Invicta FC champion. Kunitskaya made her Octagon debut earlier this year on short notice in a title fight against Cyborg, but she came up short in her effort to pull off the upset. Now Kunitskaya will return to bantamweight, where she immediately faces a top 15-ranked fighter in Lansberg.

A pair of lightweights looking to make an impact in arguably the deepest division in the sport will meet on Saturday night when Scott Holtzman takes on Alan Patrick. Holtzman has won his last two fights, and he's well known for his non-stop action style inside the Octagon. Patrick carries a similar reputation while building a three-fight win streak in his most recent performances. There's no doubt both of these fighters will look to make a statement when they meet at UFC 229.

Veteran fighter Gray Maynard has put together a 2-1 record over his past three fights, including a win over Teruto Ishihara in his last outing. Now he returns to the lightweight division where he was once a title challenger when he faces Nik Lentz, who is one of the grittiest and toughest athletes in the sport. Lentz is coming off a loss in his last fight, so he'll definitely be on a mission to return to the win column when he steps into the Octagon against Maynard on the preliminary card.

Owner of 14-2 record, welterweight Ryan LaFlare will return after his last win over Alex Garcia when he meets Tony Martin, who comes into the fight with a 4-1 mark in his past five fights. Martin has enjoyed new life as a welterweight in recent months but he's got a tough test ahead of him, as LaFlare is a difficult matchup for just about anybody at 170 pounds with his high-level wrestling and incredible control for all 15 minutes.