UFC 229 fight card predictions: Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov expert picks and odds

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Conor McGregor has been away from the UFC Octagon for nearly two years, but that all ends on Saturday night in Las Vegas at UFC 229. The former two-division champion is ready to get back into the cage as he attempts to win back the lightweight championship by facing maybe his toughest test to date: reigning titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The history between these two is a strange one, as they once respected one another but now despise the sight of each other. The hatred reached a new level this past April when, prior to UFC 223, McGregor and his lads stormed the Barclays Center, and the former double-champ threw a dolly at a bus carrying Nurmagomedov.

On top of the great main event, UFC 229 also provides a look at the state of the lightweight division and much more. Here’s the full fight card with the latest odds from Bovada.

UFC 229 fight card

Khabib Nurmagomedov (c) -160 Conor McGregor +140 Lightweight title
Tony Ferguson -350 Anthony Pettis +265 Lightweight
Dominick Reyes -210 Ovince Saint Preux +170 Light heavyweight
Alexander Volkov -185 Derrick Lewis +150 Heavyweight
Felice Herrig -130 Michelle Waterson +100 Women’s strawweight
Sergio Pettis -150 Jussier Formiga +120 Flyweight
Vincente Luque -800 Jalin Turner +500 Bantamweight
Aspen Ladd -165 Tonya Evinger +135 Women’s bantamweight
Yana Kunitskaya -190 Lina Lansberg +155 Women’s bantamweight
Alan Patrick -260  Scott Holtzman +200 Lightweight
Nik Lentz -230 Gray Maynard +180 Lightweight
Ryan LaFlare -140 Tony Martin +110 Welterweight

With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking each of the main card fights. Here are your pick makers: Brian Campbell (combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Michael Mormile (producer), Jack Jorgensen (editor) and Brandon Wise (editor).

Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov Full Fight

Khabib (c) vs. McGregor McGregor McGregor McGregor McGregor Khabib
Ferguson vs. Pettis Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson Pettis
Reyes vs. Saint Preux Reyes OSP OSP OSP OSP
Volkov vs. Lewis Lewis Volkov Lewis Volkov Lewis
Herrig vs. Waterson Herrig Waterson Waterson Herrig Herrig
Overall (2018) 24-25-0 27-22-0 26-23-0 24-25-0 29-20-0

Campbell on why McGregor wins: Questions as to whether McGregor is still hungry enough despite his wealth to accept a challenge as dangerous as Nurmagomedov were seemingly answered by his willingness to accept the fight when he didn’t have to. What that shows is that he sees something. For all the talk that Khabib’s aggressive wrestling style is all kinds of wrong for McGregor (and make no mistake, it is) let’s not forget how perfectly vulnerable Nurmagomedov could end up being for counter left hands as he shoots in. Outside of the two Nate Diaz fights at welterweight, McGregor has finished seven of the eight opponents he has faced in the Octagon and each time with punches. McGregor enters this fight with something to prove and that’s a dangerous equation for Nurmagomedov, who may be dominant on the ground but lacks a similar record of finishes.

Wise on why Khabib wins: Tread lightly, my friend. Take all the bluster and brashness from McGregor you want, but the man has a clear weakness that sets up for exactly the style that “The Eagle” brings to this grudge match. McGregor’s three losses in the Octagon have all come via submission stoppage, each after the fight has been taken to the ground. The comparisons to the Chad Mendes fight for McGregor have been made ad nauseam, but I think Khabib has another trick up his sleeve here. McGregor will try to keep the distance with his jab and heavy left hand, but Russian robot will continue to plod forward with constant pressure and secure the takedowns needed to finish McGregor with some hammer fists.

Jorgensen on why Ferguson wins: “El Cucuy” is back, and I could not be happier about that fact. Now is he back too soon? That we don’t know, but he will have to protect that knee he injured back in spring, as Pettis will obviously make that a prime target with his kicks. I think Ferguson will be able to keep those attempts at bay, though, and extend that record lightweight winning streak he still has going for him. Ferguson via submission when the fight gets to the ground, and then it’ll be on to face the winner of the main event at some point down the road.

Wise on why Pettis wins: Welcome back to Showtime. The former lightweight champion is suddenly in a great position to snag a shot at the winner of the main event on Saturday. In a fight that will likely end up in a wrestling match with Ferguson’s extensive ground and submission game, give me the guy that didn’t suffer a freak knee injury six months earlier and who is used to having a bright spotlight on him in an event of this magnitude. Pettis may not be the flying headkick off the cage anymore, but he’s still one of the best 155-pound fighters in the world.

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