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Conor McGregor makes his anticipated return to the Octagon in what is arguably the biggest fight in UFC history. The Athletes Hub is here to break down the event and predict the outcome of each fight on the PPV card.
Michelle Waterson (15-6) vs Felice Herrig (14-7)
Ray’s Take: The most anticipated card of the year kicks off with two top ten strawweight contenders. The former Atomweight, Michelle Waterson, comes into this fight with a clear size disadvantage but is also the far more technical fighter, landing 60.7% of her significant strikes and 86.7% of her takedowns. Herrig, on the other hand, is a more gritty and defensive grappler who absorbs a lot of strikes. I see Waterson’s speed and kickboxing style giving Herrig fits and eventually taking the fight to the ground where she’ll get the submission victory.
Prediction: Michelle Waterson via Submission
Rami’s Take: Both women are walking into this fight with something to prove. Waterson got back into the win column in April after a two-fight skid with a decision victory over Cortney Casey-Sanchez. Meanwhile, Herrig’s four-fight win streak was recently snapped after failing to take Karolina Kowalkiewicz to the ground and being forced to counter-attack, leading to a split decision loss. Both women love to strike and take it to the ground and that’s what you can expect to see in this fight to open up the show. A submission finish is very possible, but Herrig tends to drag her fights out, with 16 of her 21 career bouts going the distance.
Prediction: Michelle Waterson via Unanimous Decision
Derrick Lewis (20-5) vs Alexander Volkov (30-6)
Ray’s Take: Derrick Lewis left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth in his last fight against Francis Ngannou, in what was arguably the worst fight in UFC history. Regardless of the action, or lack thereof, “The Black Beast” still came out with the victory. With a lot of eyes on Lewis in this fight, I expect him to come out swinging early. Alexander; however, has world-class cardio and will keep his distance while using his kicks and high tempo striking to wear Lewis down and earn the eventual knockout.
Prediction: Alexander Volkov via TKO
Rami’s Take: Heavyweight action is always worth watching and this fight could very well name the next title contender for the UFC Heavyweight championship. Both fighters come into this matchup winning 8 of their last 10 fights. The big difference is that Volkov recently knocked out former Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum and is currently undefeated in the UFC. This is without a doubt going to be worth a watch and the future of both men will be changed if their hand is raised come Saturday night.
Prediction: Alexander Volkov via Unanimous Decision
Ovince Saint Preux (23-11) vs Dominick Reyes (9-0)
Ray’s Take: This is a classic veteran vs prospect matchup. OSP has had a roller coaster of a career and is now matched up against an undefeated fighter who has only ever seen the second round once in his career. Experience and cardio could play a big factor in this fight for Saint Preux, but I see Reyes getting the finish and proving that OSP is no more than a gatekeeper in the division.
Prediction: Dominick Reyes via TKO
Rami’s Take: This Light Heavyweight bout is surely going to keep you guessing when Ovince Saint Preux looks to defeat the undefeated Dominick Reyes. Reyes has been on an incredible run in the UFC since his debut in 2017, where he has finished all of his opponents by way of knockout or submission. OSP is going to come into to this fight using his 80-inch reach and submission skills to keep himself on the winning side of the judge’s scorecard, but with Reyes ability to finish fights in an instant heartbeat I see Reyes ending this fight early.
Prediction: Dominick Reyes via TKO
Tony Ferguson (23-3) vs Anthony Pettis (21-7)
Ray’s Take: Ferguson was on a tear before injuring himself in a freak accident and inevitably relinquishing his title. Meanwhile, the former champion, Anthony Pettis, is 3-5 in his last 8 fights and looks like a shell of his former self. With Tony being out of the fight game for the last 12 months and returning 6 months ahead of schedule I see this fight being one that Ferguson uses to “knock off the rust” and test the stability of his knee. But in the end, I see the better fighter coming out on top and winning via decision.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision
Rami’s Take: Ferguson was the interim Lightweight champion before being stripped due to a knee injury and Pettis is a former Lightweight Champion who is looking to get back into the title picture with a win over Ferguson. Ferguson has an amazing record in the UFC, with a 13-1 record and a current 10 fight win streak. Pettis has been scratching and clawing to get back into the winning circle and with a recent submission win over Michael Chiesa, he feels that a win over Ferguson would bring him back closer to gold. This fight will be a lot closer than most people think but Ferguson takes it in a close decision.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson via Split Decision
Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) vs Conor McGregor (21-3)
Ray’s Take: After a two-year layoff the “Notorious” Conor McGregor is finally making his return to the Octagon. Conor is coming into this fight as an underdog for only the second time in his career, and for good reason. Khabib is 10-0 in the UFC and holds the UFC takedown record with 21 in a single fight. Conor’s game has always been to get into his opponents head leading up to the fight and then finishing them early in the contest. But Conor has two big weaknesses. His lack of cardio and his inability to defend the takedown. Two things Khabib thrives at. Khabib isn’t without his weaknesses either though. He doesn’t have the sharpest stand-up and tends to keep his hands down and his chin up, but if the Barboza fight taught me anything, it’s that Khabib can take a shot. I see Khabib getting rocked early but eventually recovering and using his Sambo wrestling to maul Conor and wear him out and eventually finish him on the mat.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov via TKO
Rami’s Take: The highly anticipated Lightweight Championship bout is here. McGregor is heading into this fight as a huge underdog against the undefeated Nurmagomedov who wants nothing more than to make McGregor pay for everything he has done. The bad blood between the Irishman and Dagestani is more than real and with what’s on the line, you can expect everyone to be on the edge of their seats. McGregor is a former two-weight champion, but after winning the Lightweight championship, he held the belt for 600 days without a single title defense. When he was stripped Nurmagomedov went on to win the vacated belt which started the bad blood between the two. Conor then got wind that Khabib slapped his friend and teammate, Artem Lobov, and that’s when McGregor decided that he was going to return to the UFC and defeat the undefeated Nurmagomedov. McGregor has elite striking and knockout power, but Nurmagomedov has elite grappling and wrestling that has kept him undefeated and has made him the Lightweight champion. If McGregor can keep it standing, the fight is all his, but if Nurmagomedov can get the fight to the ground the whole time, he takes the win. The world is watching and you can expect to be left stunned and your mind blown from the conclusion to this fight.
Prediction: Conor McGregor via TKO