CONOR McGREGOR steps backs inside the Octagon tonight at UFC 229.
However, standing across the cage from the Irishman in Las Vegas this evening will be the fearsome – and unbeaten – Russian grappler Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Conor McGregor made weight during Friday’s weigh inSportsfile
Wally Downes, SunSport Boxing Correspondent
CONOR MCGREGOR seems to be using his old playbook in his bid to snatch his lightweight title back from Khabib Nurmagomedov on Saturday night.
In 2015 the Irish icon taunted and teased Jose Aldo to the point where the Brazilian raced across the ring in a desperate bid for revenge and was obliterated by a single punch – the fight lasted 13 seconds and McGregor became a superstar.
Khabib will not be so naïve, the 26-0 Russian wrestler is a pressure fighter and will not allow the rangy southpaw to box from distance, using his freakishly long arms.
Nurmagomedov insists his challenger has no stamina and will fold in the later rounds and we have seen a lack of gas hit The Notorious in bouts with Nate Diaz and Floyd Mayweather.
Michael Bisping told SunSport that Dublin’s great hope will be at his most dangerous inside the opening round and it is hard to disagree.
Conor has only gone three or more rounds twice in his career, the 2013 points win over Max Holloway was 15 minutes and the 2016 title rematch win over Diaz went the full 25.
But those two foes are strikers who allow time to breathe between attacks whereas Khabib is a pitbull who will never give the 30-year-old two-weight champ a second’s rest.
Khabib is so intent on humbling the whiskey-selling Crumlin king that he has vowed to ignore any early submission opportunities so he can prolong the pain.
The Dagestan hero has done 28 rounds in his ten UFC fights and has never lost a single one of them, he thrives on constant dominance and manhandling his rivals.
A points or late Khabib win looks the most likely outcome but that would mean Las Vegas and the UFC get their golden goose knocked off his perch.
Draws are hugely rare in the UFC and would usually need a point deduction or a 10-8 round.
But, as we have seen in boxing recently, strange things can happen when the biggest roller is in Sin City and a rematch can line plenty more pockets for everyone involved.
Khabib Nurmagomedov came in at exactly 155lbsSportsfile
What time is Khabib vs McGregor on?
UFC 229 in Vegas takes place TONIGHT – October 6.
As usual with the big fights across the pond, it is expected the bout will get underway at around 4am UK time at the earliest.
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas hosts the card.
What TV channel is it on and can I live stream it?
BT Sport 1 will be broadcasting the whole card.
The channel will show the prelims from 1am to 3am.
Then from 3am the main card gets underway from Las Vegas.
The fight can be live streamed for BT Sport subscribers.
The card is available live on their app and official website.
Alternatively follow all of the action with SunSport’s live blog right here.
Who else is on the UFC 229 undercard?
Ryan LaFlare vs Tony Martin (welterweight)
Gray Maynard vs Nik Lentz (lightweight)
Scott Holtzman vs Alan Patrick (lightweight)
Lina Lansberg vs Yana Kunitskaya (bantamweight)
Aspen Ladd vs Tonya Evinger (bantamweight)
Sergio Pettis vs Jussier Formiga (flyweight)
Sean O’Malley vs Jose Quinonez (bantamweight)
Michelle Waterson vs Felice Herrig (strawweight)
Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov (heavyweight)
Ovince Saint Preux vs Dominick Reyes (light heavyweight)
Tony Ferguson vs Anthony Pettis (lightweight)
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor (lightweight)
What have the fighters said?
McGregor: “I’ve been grappling and wrestling much heavier men but I’ve cut no corners. I expect panic in him early. I also don’t give a b******. I have been in every situation under the brightest lights in the entire world, I am a veteran.”
Khabib: “Maybe a decision. Maybe I’m going to finish him. But all the time when he is tired, he will give up. This is all the time. Like before fights, he talks like, ‘I’m ready for this. I’m ready for this,’ when he fight with Diaz, when he fight Mayweather. But when he tired, he give up all the time.”
Where will be fight be won and lost?
A number of UFC legends have had their say on the big fight:
Georges St-Pierre: “If I had to put my house on it, I would choose Khabib over Conor. Khabib has never lost. Conor has lost before. He has lost on the ground, and that’s where Khabib is good. That’s what Khabib is most competent at.”
Frank Mir: ““My safe money is on Khabib.
“Out of 26 fights, I did see Michael Johnson land one straight left and kinda hurt him. If Conor lands that same straight left, Khabib is going to go to sleep. That left that Conor has, that straight left, it puts everyone to sleep. Maybe it doesn’t knock out Khabib but it’s going to hurt him, and that can really change the outcome of a round and cause some problems.”
Dan Hardy: “Khabib’s main vulnerability in this fight is that he has got no footwork. He only knows how to go forward. He has no idea of cutting off the Octagon until he actually has his hands on someone.
“That’s where Conor gets into this fight. He’s very intelligent. He’s going to be good at circling off and walking Khabib onto that left hand. I think this is going to be a very different version of Conor than we’ve ever seen. I think we’re going to see a lot more lateral movement and more footwork. I think he’s going to come in slightly lighter and better conditioned. I think he’s going to expect to be taken down at least a couple of times.”
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