They will be talking about the fight -- and its unfortunate aftermath -- for years to come.
Khabib Nurmagomedov retained the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight crown, as he submitted Conor McGregor with a neck crank in the fourth round of their UFC 229 headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. McGregor tapped 3:03 into Round 4, failing to reclaim the throne at 155 pounds in his first appearance inside the Octagon in nearly two years.
As many expected, Nurmagomedov overtook the Irishman with dogged takedowns, ferocious ground-and-pound and stifling positional control. McGregor was essentially a non-factor outside of the third round. In the fourth, Nurmagomedov struck for another takedown, advanced to mount and cut loose with punches before moving to the back. Soon after, his arms were wrapped around McGregor’s neck and submission had become the only option.
Afterward, Nurmagomedov scaled the fence and appeared to attack Dillon Danis, one of McGregor’s cornerman, his actions inciting a melee on the floor of the arena. Meanwhile, two men in Nurmagomedov’s entourage entered the cage and took swings at McGregor, with the former champion returning fire in self-defense. Pandemonium ensued, marring an otherwise memorable event.
In the aftermath of UFC 229 “Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor,” here are five fights that ought to be made:
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson: Though he improved to 27-0 and cemented his place atop the lightweight division, Nurmagomedov’s post-fight actions cloud his immediate future. Fines and suspensions seem likely, and the UFC could conceivably move to strip him of his title. Time will tell. Ferguson handled his business in the co-main event, where he returned from reconstructive knee surgery to stop Anthony Pettis after two rounds. A broken hand proved to be Pettis’ undoing following 10 incredible minutes of violence in its purest form, which left both men bathed in blood.
Dominick Reyes vs. Jimi Manuwa-Thiago Santos winner: The undefeated Reyes graduated from prospect to contender at 205 pounds, as he captured a unanimous decision from Ovince St. Preux in a featured light heavyweight throwdown. All three judges scored it 30-27 for “The Devastator,” who improved to 10-0 overall and 4-0 in the UFC. Reyes overwhelmed St. Preux with early kick-heavy offense, opened multiple cuts on the former University of Tennessee linebacker’s head with counter elbows and floored him with a straight left in the waning moments of the third round. Manuwa and Santos will square off at UFC 231 on Dec. 8.
Derrick Lewis vs. Stipe Miocic: Having been outclassed and brutalized for 14-plus minutes, Lewis reached into his bag of tricks, delivered a Hail Mary knockout against former Bellator MMA champion Alexander Volkov and set the Las Vegas crowd on fire in a memorable heavyweight feature. Volkov hit the deck on the end of a right cross and was beaten unconscious by crushing ground-and-pound 4:49 into Round 3. The result erased the 6-foot-7 Russian’s night’s work in an instant, as “Drago” had built what appeared to be an insurmountable lead with body kicks that doubled over Lewis more than once and crisp power punches that left him with damage to both eyes. Like the rest of the heavyweight division, Miocic must wait for the ongoing Daniel Cormier-Brock Lesnar drama to play out before he can attempt to regain his title. The former champion last fought at UFC 226 in July, when Cormier dethroned him by first-round knockout.
Michelle Waterson vs. Livinha Souza: Waterson shined in her role as a slight underdog against Felice Herrig and walked away from their three-round women’s strawweight showcase with a unanimous decision. All three cageside judges scored it for the longtime Jackson-Wink MMA standout: 30-26, 29-28 and 30-27. Waterson utilized an active kicking game, held her own in the clinch and executed a beautiful throw in the second round, whereupon she spent several minutes feeding her counterpart ground-and-pound from top position. Even when she wound up pinned beneath Herrig in the third, Waterson responded with savage slashing elbows from the bottom. Souza made her long-awaited promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 137 on Sept. 22 and did not disappoint, as the former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder needed just 81 seconds to submit Alex Chambers with a guillotine choke.
Aspen Ladd vs. Raquel Pennington-Germaine de Randamie winner: Ladd passed her most difficult test to date with flying colors, as she put away former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Tonya Evinger with first-round ground-and-pound in their preliminary clash at 135 pounds. Evinger succumbed to blows 3:26 into Round 1. Ladd sprawled out of a takedown, assumed top position and advanced to the back. Elbows and punches did the rest, as the promising 23-year-old improved to a perfect 7-0. Pennington and de Randamie will collide at UFC Fight Night 139 on Nov. 10.