The UFC is heading back to Vegas on October 6th for what should be the biggest UFC pay-per-view event of all time. UFC 229 features the return of Conor McGregor, who has been away from the octagon since winning the lightweight belt over Eddie Alvarez back in 2016. The UFC stripped Conor of his belt this year and it was subsequently won by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Conor is now looking to get the belt back in a grudge match with Khabib.
I’ve given my picks for the five main card fights below. All of the odds are taken from BetOnline.ag, our top rated betting site for MMA. Here’s our full BetOnline review for you to check out if you’re interested in opening an account and placing some bets.
Check out our how to bet on UFC 229 article for a simple 3 step guide explaining how to bet on these fights.
Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov
This is the perfect fight. You have a guy who never lost his belt in Conor, looking to get it back against a 26-0 fighter who many think of as unbeatable. You also have the classic striker vs wrestler story line. Everything about this fight is perfect from a narrative perspective.
As for how I think the fight goes. I think Conor will KO Khabib at some point. I’m not sure if it will be early or late.
Conor’s striking is the best in the game. He’s able to land massive shots from every angle and keep this opponents completely off balance. Against Nate he was up against a guy with an iron chin, but against Alvarez he showed he definitely has the power and movement to destroy other 155 pounders. Khabib has won every round in his UFC career, but he’s also been wobbled by strikes before, so I do believe he can be knocked out and Conor is exactly the guy to do it.
I’m also not impressed with Khabib’s resume. He has one good win in my opinion and that was over Rafael dos Anjos, before RDA hit his prime. Also, we saw Colby Covington use the exact same pressure strategy against RDA and it worked easily once again. RDA simply didn’t have the striking power to force these pressure wrestlers to respect him standing up. Conor will KO Khabib if he shoots an ill timed takedown. Barboza is really the only other decent win Khabib has and Barboza barely threw a strike in that fight, choosing to worry about the takedown rather than mount any offense of his own. This strategy obviously didn’t work.
Don’t get me wrong, Khabib could get Conor to the mat at times in this fight if Conor doesn’t get an early KO. Against Mendes, Conor was taken down 4 times, but he kept his composure on the mat, got back to his feet and had enough left in the tank to KO Mendes at the end of the second round. Conor has solid takedown defense, but he’s not as uncomfortable on the mat as people seem to think. Even if he can’t get back to his feet he will have opportunities to land big strikes at the beginning of each round. Khabib doesn’t really finish guys on the mat. He went to a 5 round decision against Iaquinta, went to a 3 round decision against Barboza, took until the third round to finish Michael Johnson and went to decision against Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo and Gleison Tibau. He’s not a finisher and giving these extra opportunities to Conor at the start of the round will mean McGregor is never out of this fight.
I don’t think Khabib is as unbeatable as everyone seems to think and I actually think Conor is a bad matchups for Khabib and not necessarily the other way around.
Play: McGregor +138
Tony Ferguson vs Anthony Pettis
Pettis was able to beat Michael Chiesa in his last fight, but let’s be honest. Chiesa was way overrated. Pettis has shown he’s still able to beat guys outside of the top 5 like Chiesa, Jim Miller and Charles Oliveira, but he’s faultered against all top 5 fighters he’s faced in the past four years (dos Anjos, Alvarez, Barboza, Holloway and Poirier). Ferguson is better than all of those 5 other fighters (arguably not Holloway), so I think he should win this fight.
That said, Pettis is still a dangerous fighter and Tony does take shots from time to time. This is by no means a slam dunk bet, but Ferguson is definitely the better fighter and I think the odds are fairly accurate.
Ferguson is probably better everywhere and as long as he fights smart he should be able to dictate where the fight takes place and either run up a striking based decision or really put the pressure on Pettis and find a spot where he can lock in a submission.
Let’s not forget that Ferguson has won 10 straight fights at lightweight including recent wins over Barboza, dos Anjos and Lee. He’s probably the most deserving of the lightweight belt, but he has to settle for another top opponent. If he gets past Pettis it should set up a fight with the winner of Conor or Khabib.
Play: Ferguson -315
Ovince Saint Preux vs Dominick Reyes
Reyes has looked like an absolute killer in his 3 UFC fights. He’s only needed about 6 minutes total to finish Christensen, Kimball and Cannonier, each win coming in the first round. That said, Christensen is not a UFC caliber fighter and Kimball is not really on the UFC level either. The win over Cannonier was very impressive, but OSP is still a major step up in competition for Reyes.
I actually think Reyes is the better fighter with more potential between these two, but OSP is a tricky fight for anyone in the light heavyweight division. He has KO striking and slick submissions that can end fights. If he survives round 1 against Reyes, I think OSP would actually have the edge. We don’t really know how good Reyes is from a conditioning standpoint and we really don’t have a lot to go on to know how good Reyes is on the mat.
There are a lot of unknowns with Reyes, while we know that OSP can pull out wins even when he’s outclassed on paper. OSP is 4-1 in his last 5 with four wins of his own, and he’s been fighting much better competition. I think the sharp money has to be on OSP in this spot even though Reyes has done everything asked of him in his UFC career.
Play: OSP +175
Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov
Lewis has never got the respect he deserves in his UFC career. He’s 8-1 in his last 9 UFC fights, which is absolutely ridiculous for a heavyweight. His game has continued to evolve and although his fight against Ngannou was nothing to call home about, he still fought a fairly smart fight and didn’t invite a KO from the supremely dangerous Ngannou. The only loss in that 9 fight span came against Mark Hunt, who has crazy power late in fights, just like Lewis.
Volkov has won four straight fights since joining the UFC and that includes a couple knockout wins over Struve and Werdum in his last two fights. He’s a tall fighter with good movement for a heavyweight, but he generally wins his fights with volume rather than 1 punch KO power like Lewis.
This is a fight that Lewis could win with one punch at any moment. He doesn’t have to worry too much about Volkov’s power, so he will be able to move forward and look to do big damage. I expect Lewis to be able to move forward and land the bigger shots in this fight until he drops Volkov and finishes the job on the mat.
I hope a big win here will give Lewis the title shot that he deserves.
Play: Lewis +145
Felice Herrig vs Michelle Waterson
Herrig’s striking has improved a lot over her UFC career. She is coming off a tight split decision loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz where she narrowly lost a striking battle agaisnt one of the best strikers in the women’s division. Before that Herrig had won four straight including big wins over Grasso, Kish and Casey.
Waterson got back in the W column with her own split decision win over Cortney Casey. Before that Waterson lost two fights in a row, but the losses were to two top 5 fighters in Namajunas (current champ) and Tecia Torres. I really don’t know what to make of Waterson. She’s a decent striker with great movement and a solid ground game, but she really isn’t dangerous on the feet and she is very small for the division.
I expect Herrig to have the strength advantage and to also have a decent shot at winning the striking exchanges at close range. As long as she doesn’t allow Waterson to land kicks and retreat, I think Herrig is the more dangerous fighter and she should be able to find a way to get the win either on the feet or the mat.
Play: Herrig -119