UFC 229 Picks
It’s finally #UFC229 Fight week, the most highly anticipated fight week of the year so far. Conor McGregor is making his UFC return to make a run at a belt he never lost, the lightweight title, against undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov. The bout has been talked about for years now, as their collision course has finally met its destination. The UFC 229 Main Card also features arguably the “real” UFC Lightweight champ, Tony Ferguson, who takes on one of the greatest lightweights of all time in Anthony Pettis.
You’ve also got a heavyweight #1 contender fight in Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov (when you take Stipe, Brock, and Jon Jones out of the picture of course). Light Heavyweights Dominick Reyes and Ovince St. Preux isn’t a #1 contender fight, but the winner will certainly be apart of the next one at LHW. Michelle Waterson and Felice Herrig will also battle to see which one of them is truly a contender at 115 pounds, with the loser having their best interest to be moving up in a less stacked division.
The prelims were supposed to feature rising star “Sugar” Sean O’Malley in a bantamweight contest, but according to his instagram, he will be pulled out due to a contaminated substance he popped for. This is a big blow to the prelims, but will still likely see big ratings because that’s just how big the card is. They also have some nice options from the Fight Pass prelims to bump it up, with Gray Maynard and Yana Kunitskaya (she headlined a pay per view six months ago believe it or not). There’s also a top five fight at flyweight in #2 Sergio Pettis and #5 Jussier Formiga where the winner will likely get the shot post-DJ rematch if it ever happens.
So you want to find out who wins? Save yourself $65 and keep reading…
Jussier Formiga vs Sergio Pettis
Pettis had his best showing to date in a split decision win over longtime contender Joseph Benavidez, but that was right after his worst performance against Henry Cejudo. Formiga lost to both of those men (in 2015 and 2013) but Formiga is more advanced with more experience and has the ability to outwrestle Pettis. In a three round fight, that should be enough to earn the decision win. Don’t be surprised if he gets the SUB win either.
Michelle Waterson vs Felice Herrig
These two were extremely close to a title shot before their last losses. Herrig was on a four fight win streak before her UFC 223 loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Waterson was Rose Namajunas’ last win before her title shot and eventual title reign. Waterson and Herrig now find themselves at a crossroad to get to the top of the stacked women’s strawweight division. Waterson and Herrig also are capable of getting the submission while not afraid to keep it standing. 60% of Waterson’s wins have come from submissions to 27% for Felice, but Waterson has 3 submission losses to Herrig’s 0. I expect a determined Herrig to come out strong and get a decision win to put herself back in the conversation.
Herrig SUB 3rd
Ovince St. Preux vs Dominick Reyes
The battle of finishes at light heavyweight should be an exciting one. Reyes has become a well known knockout artist the last year, while St. Preux has finished four of his last five by way of KO or SUB. Reyes is 9-0 with eight first round finishes. If he gets one here against his toughest opponent yet, he could proclaim himself as the future of 205 at just 28 years old. St. Pruex has been around and has fought the top guys at 205, including a 5 round decision loss to Jon Jones back in 2016. OSP has had trouble with the hardest hitters at 205 in Jimmi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdimer, Reyes is of the same caliber. While OSP has a chance to win submit him if he can get past the first round, he might not get to see anything past the first five minutes.
Reyes 1st Round TKO
Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov
Lewis and Volkov are both coming off their biggest wins to date over Francis Ngannou and Fabricio Werdum. They were accomplished in different fashion, as Lewis had a forgettable decision win and Volkov’s fourth round knockout over Werdum. Lewis and Volkov are both very dangerous knockout artists. Volkov, at 6″7, has never been knocked out in 36 career fights. The Black Beast isn’t a small guy by any means, 6″3 265 pounds doesn’t scream small. But Lewis will have his hands full trying to solve the Volkov puzzle. Lewis has had back problems recently that have hindered his performance, but it hasn’t stopped him from winning eight of his last nine all in the UFC. The problem at hand is that Volkov is 29, healthy, and can go hard for all three rounds. Funny enough, Lewis’ wins have all come against 6″4 or 6″7 guys like Travis Browne and Ngannou, and his one loss in the last three years has come to 5″11 Mark Hunt. Volkov is favored and rightfully so, but Lewis for sure has the capablity to give Volkov his first knockout loss. I just don’t think Lewis is healthy enough at this stage of his career to do it.
Volkov 3rd Rd TKO
Tony Ferguson vs Anthony Pettis
Tony Ferguson does not want to be in this fight. His last fight was for an interim title, which he won by submission over Kevin Lee. He has the best winning percentage in the UFC and has done everything to deserve a title shot. But after a nasty injury right before UFC 223, he was pushed back even more. He now faces Anthony Pettis, who was seemingly a former shadow of himself before his last win over Michael Chiesa at UFC 226. But Pettis is still the younger guy believe it or not. He also has submission skills close to the same leve las Ferguson, just not as good of a wrestler. But Ferguson takes lots of damage and Pettis can dish it, making this one an interesting stylistic match up. This feels like the fight where Ferguson could lose his streak and everything he’s worked towards, especially if he’s trying to come back from his injury too early. If this were prime Pettis versus a worn down and possibly still injured Ferguson, I’d take him as an upset. If this were odds picks, I’d say Pettis at +270 is a solid underdog bet. But if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick the winner, I’d say Ferguson.
Ferguson via UD