The historic event that was UFC 229 took place in Las Vegas this past Saturday with a main event for the ages. The lightweight title was to be defended for the first time in nearly two years. Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov put his title on the line against the former two-division champion, Conor McGregor. Plus, in the co-main event, the former interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson, took on the former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis.
Overall, the card was as exciting as it could get. But the focus of the night, unfortunately, went to the all-out war that ensued after the end of the main event. But we are not here to talk about all that madness. Instead, we are here to talk about the five fighters that stood out above everyone else with their eye-opening, Standout Performances.
In order for a fighter to make this list, their performance must stand out among their peers. This could be quick finishes, flashy knockouts, great submissions, dismantling an opponent, or providing an all-around exciting fight. Plus, I will also provide what should be next for that fighter according to MMASucka‘s own Wesley Riddle from his “Top Five Fights to Make After UFC 229“. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
UFC 229 Standout Performances
#1: Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis def. Alexander Volkov via Knockout (Punches) at 4:49 of Round Three
Derrick Lewis came into this fight coming off the biggest win of his career. That win came over the former heavyweight title challenger, Francis Ngannou at UFC 226. He won the fight that night by unanimous decision after a very close fight. This win came after a third-round TKO victory over Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 126.
Lewis’ opponent, Alexander Volkov, came into this fight on a roll. He was coming off back to back main event victories, both by stoppage. The first of those came on September 2, 2017, as he took on Stefan Struve in the main event of UFC Fight Night 115. He went on to finish the fight in the third round via TKO. The next one came in the main event of UFC Fight Night 127 when he faced former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. He would finish that fight by knockout in the fourth round to earn him an alternated position for the Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier fight at UFC 226.
In round one, it was all Volkov early. Volkov was landing nearly everything, including a hard body kick that forced Lewis to curl up. As Lewis covered up, Volkov would begin to unload punches on Lewis on the fence, but Lewis would not go down.
Lewis was able to get away from the temporary attack of the Russian, but Volkov kept coming. As Lewis looked to land some shots, Volkov countered and stunned Lewis which was then followed up by more punches that Lewis would eat.
Volkov wouldn’t do anything that notable again until he reversed a wild takedown attempt from Lewis. However, Volkov could not keep Lewis down for long as Lewis got back to his feet easily. Once the two fighters were back on their feet, Volkov threw a head kick that was blocked by Lewis and then Lewis would throw an overhand right that barely landed. Volkov backed up and Lewis would land a couple more hard punches before Volkov would grab him and eventually drag him to the ground. He would keep Lewis on his back for nearly the rest of the round.
Volkov kept Lewis on his back for most of what was left in the round, even getting Lewis’ back a couple times. However, Lewis would eventually reverse positions and end up on top of Volkov where he would land some brutal ground and pound before the end of the round.
Going into the second round, Lewis seemed to have lost most of his energy. Volkov would capitalize on this and would land a couple of combinations that would wobble Lewis.
This was the biggest highlight of the second round as both fighters began to wear down. But overall, Volkov would land more strikes than the tired out Lewis in this second round to go up two rounds to none.
In the third round, Lewis came out very tired once again. And just like the last round, Volkov would take advantage of this and land combinations that would make Lewis seem like he was going down. However, Lewis would just eat up everything that Volkov would land.
Throughout the entire fight, Lewis would look for overhand rights out of nowhere. However, he was never really that successful in landing most of them until he miraculously landed a hard right hand that dropped Volkov. Lewis pounced on his opponent and landed brutal ground and pound. These shots would knock Volkov out cold. Lewis had just finished one of the greatest comeback victories ever.
Who should Derrick Lewis fight next?: #1 Stipe Miocic (18-3)
#2: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Conor McGregor via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:03 of Round Four
Undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov won the lightweight title in April at UFC 223. He was originally supposed to face Tony Ferguson for the title. However, Ferguson was forced out of the fight with a knee injury. He was replaced by featherweight champion, Max Holloway, but due to weight issues, he was also removed. This forced the UFC to make some changes to the card. They would pull Al Iaquinta from his fight against Paul Felder to fight Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov would go on to win the fight after the full five rounds by unanimous decision.
Conor McGregor had not stepped foot in a UFC octagon since UFC 205 in November 2016. He took on the lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez that night and finished him in the second round. This victory caused him to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time. During his two years off, he would go on to fight boxing legend Floyd Mayweather while both his titles would eventually be stripped.
Early in the first round, McGregor made the crowd roar as he threw the first left hand, but it did nothing. After this, Nurmagomedov would shoot for his first takedown attempt. McGregor would do a good job at defending at first, but throughout Nurmagomedov’s career, he has proved that once he gets a hold of you, he will eventually get you down. This is what happened against McGregor. He would get him down against the cage and just smother him for the rest of the round.
In the second round, McGregor walked out with his hands down and threw a quick front kick to Nurmagomedov’s body. A little more than 20 seconds later, Nurmagomedov shocked everyone watching as he landed a quick right hand perfectly, that dropped McGregor. When he landed the shot, he rushed in and tried to connect with a flying knee, but missed. Nurmagomedov could not get the finish, though, as instead he just quickly took down McGregor.
After getting the takedown, Nurmagomedov would land some very hard ground and pound. The fight could have been stopped as McGregor seemed to be taking a lot of punishment, but it continued. Nurmagomedov attempted a couple of submission attempts but came up short.
Round two seemed to be a clear dominant round for Nurmagomedov as he landed a knockdown and a takedown and dominated McGregor on the ground.
Nurmagomedov seemed to have taken round three off as he chose to mainly strike with McGregor instead of sticking to what he’s better at, wrestling. McGregor landed some of his best shots this round and defended a couple takedowns. However, Nurmagomedov continued to pressure and was able to land a couple good shots of his own, including a hard right hand, and a good left later on.
During the last moments of the round, Nurmagomedov got McGregor on the cage and controlled him there until the horn. At the end of the round, it was not as clear as round one and two as to who won. It was a very close round that could have gone either way, but McGregor ended up getting the round on the scorecards.
In the fourth round, Nurmagomedov came out aggressive and fired a one-two that missed McGregor. Much like the third round, McGregor began to find his rhythm with his striking and began landing some good shots again. But this time around, Nurmagomedov was able to get another takedown. He didn’t do as much on the ground as he did in round two but he was advancing in and out of top and back mount.
About three minutes into the round, Nurmgaomedov got McGregor’s back once again and immediately locked in the rear naked choke. He didn’t get the choke under the chin but that didn’t stop McGregor from tapping out. Nurmagomedov had just silenced all of the doubters and solidified himself as one of the greatest lightweights of all-time as he improved his record to 27-0.
Who should Khabib Nurmagomedov fight next?: (1) Tony Ferguson (24-3)
#3: Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson def. Anthony Pettis via TKO (Corner Stoppage) at 5:00 of Round Two
Tony Ferguson could have very well been in the position that Nurmagomedov had been in on Saturday night. However, prior to his vacant title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov back in April, Ferguson tore a ligament in his knee that forced him out of the fight. As a result, he was inactive for five months while recovering from the surgery. Before the injury, his last fight took place at UFC 216 in October 2016 when he took on Kevin Lee. The fight was for the interim lightweight title. Ferguson finished the fight in the third round via triangle choke to win the interim championship.
His opponent, the former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, was coming off a fight with Michael Chiesa. This fight took place at UFC 226 and Pettis finished the fight in the second round. The end came officially via triangle armbar just a minute into round two.
In the first round, Pettis immediately looked to attack Ferguson’s injured leg. He connected with many hard leg kicks that caused Joe Rogan to believe Ferguson began to limp. But Ferguson seemed fine as he used his injured leg many times throughout the round with all sorts of kicks. Both fighters went back and forth in this round, landing some pretty good shots. The highlight of the round came during the last ten seconds when Ferguson landed a punch off the cage and then unloaded some more shots on the fence.
Very soon after the second round started, Anthony Pettis landed a hard punch that dropped Ferguson. Ferguson quickly got back to his feet and began to move away from Pettis, even doing a sweet ninja roll to escape from the possible finishing punches. He also attempted to lock Pettis’ ankle up in order to slow the pace of Pettis. He couldn’t get the submission as now Pettis was on top of the now bleeding Ferguson.
The two battled on the ground for a good amount of time, bloodying each other up, before Ferguson found his way back to his feet. Once the two were back on their feet, the war continued. Both fighters were throwing every limb and connecting as an all-out war ensued.
During the final moments of the round, Ferguson began landing everything he threw once again before the horn.
After the round ended, Pettis went back to his corner and informed them he had broken his hand. Pettis’ coach, Duke Roufus, asked Pettis if he felt he could continue and told him he would not let him continue if he wasn’t comfortable doing so. Pettis felt that he could not continue and his corner was forced to call the fight, awarding Ferguson the TKO victory.
Who should Tony Ferguson fight next?: (C) Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0)
#4: Vicente Luque
Vicente Luque def. Jalin Turner via Knockout (Punches) at 3:52 of Round One
Vicente Luque came into this fight as one of the hottest prospects in the welterweight division to keep an eye on. Luque entered this fight on a two-fight win streak with wins over Niko Price and Chad Laprise. The win over Price came at UFC Fight Night 119 as he won the fight by submission via d’arce choke. His most recent win, over Laprise, came at UFC Fight Night 129 as he won the fight by knockout.
His opponent, Jalin Turner, was making his debut against Luque after a successful showing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. His DWTNCS fight took place during the second season this past summer on episode four. He took on Max Mustaki and defeated him via TKO due to a doctor stoppage after the first round.
The first round was very close. Both guys were landing their own shots and connecting with them hard. Luque focused on countering throughout this round as he would eat Turner’s shots and come back harder. This was working for him as he would land the counter left-hook over and over again. But Turner kept the fight close because he was also landing his own power shots.
Everything changed, though, when Turner attempted to throw a spinning elbow. Luque noticed it and blocked it and countered with a combination that dropped Turner. Luque began connecting with the ground and pound and he quickly knocked Turner out cold.
Who should Vicente Luque fight next?: Curtis Millender (16-3)
#5: Aspen Ladd
Aspen Ladd def. Tonya Evinger via TKO (Punches) at 3:26 of Round One
Coming into her UFC 229 match-up with Tonya Evinger, Aspen Ladd was undefeated in her six professional fights. Her most recent win came nearly a year ago at UFC Fight Night 118 when she faced Lina Lansberg. She won that fight in the second round via TKO for her fourth TKO finish.
Evinger made her UFC debut against the pound-for-pound best female fighter in the world, Cris Cyborg. The two met at UFC 214 with the vacant women’s featherweight belt on the line. Evinger made her way into the third round, but Cyborg finished it there, defeating Evinger by TKO.
Both ladies came out of the gates in the first round swinging as they both landed some significant strikes early.
After this back and forth, the two women locked up on the cage. They were there up until a weird looking chain of events occurred and Ladd was suddenly on top of Evinger. As Ladd was controlling Evinger on the ground, she began landing very hard ground and pound. After the first flurry of ground and pound, she controlled Evinger’s back a couple of times. Then she unleashed the fight ending flurry of ground and pound.
Who should Aspen Ladd fight next?: (6) Cat Zingano (10-3)
The UFC will be off for the next two weeks. But on October 27 they will return as they make their debut in Moncton, Canada. The main event will feature a top-ten light heavyweight clash between Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith. So join me next weekend, as we break down the five standout performances from Moncton.
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