The lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor is upon us. Countless personalities have already given their thoughts and predictions — as have the Bloody Elbow staff — and now we’ve spoken to numerous professional fighters to give their UFC 229 main event picks.
Here’s a rundown of how the pros think the lightweight title fight goes down.
Israel Adesanya: Conor by KO in the 2nd round.
Matt Brown: I got Khabib finishing Conor by ground and pound in the 3rd or 4th.
Curtis Blaydes: I like Khabib. I feel he can weather the storm if he needs to secure the initial takedown and from there rinse and repeat with ground n pound, pretty much like my last two fights.
Dennis Bermudez: I think everyone knows the drill. If the fight stays on the feet or Connor catches Khabib with some shot, Connor. If Khabib gets Connor to the ground, Khabib.
Kajan Johnson: Khabiiiiiiiib!!! All day. Once cage close, he change mcchickens face (Khabib accent).
Tyson Pedro: I think Khabib. Been a fan of what he does over three and want to see him do it over 5. Conor has messed me up a few times though.
Jon Tuck: I’m going with Khabib
Josh Emmett: This is a tough prediction to make because I can argue how both fighters can win. I think the big question is can Khabib takedown McGregor without getting caught? If khabib gets McGregor down I think he will do what he does best. If McGregor keeps it on the feet he will do what he does best. I think we will find out within the first 2-3 mins how the fight will go. If McGregor wins it will be in the 1st or 2nd round by KO/TKO. If khabib wins it can go several ways by either TKO, Sub or decision.
Sarah Kaufman: Both with big opportunity to win. Mcgregor’s timing and distancing is incredible but I think a high pressure game will exhaust him and will leave openings for Khabib to take control of the pace and fight positioning. Khabib will absolutely get hit but if he doesn’t get dropped and finished within the first 7 min of fighting I think he takes it sometime after rd 4. The fight will really he decided by whomever implements the game plan first and the best.
Ben Saunders: I think round 1 will most likley tell the outcome of the fight. Conor is gonna go all in energy wise ala Mayweather looking to make the finish happen early, and hope if he doesn’t end him before he gasses, hopefully he did enough damage to still win the fight. Khabib ends it if it goes to the mat any round with sufficient time to work. This is amazing okd school Style vs Opposite style and it makes me so happy to see the UFC representing 25 years later how it began.
Adam Milstead: Ugh. I want McGregor to win and I’m betting on him but everytime I’ve put my money on guys, it doesn’t work out. Oh well... Mcgregor wins, TKO, 3rd round.
Christos Giagos: Conor, knockout 2nd round
Aiemann Zahabi: It’s a classic grappled vs striker showdown. I really think it’s 60:40 in favour of Mcgregor
Alex Perez: Khabib, 3rd round TKO.
Julian Marquez: I believe that Khabib will take a lot of damage, but grab ahold of Conor and just grind him for five rounds and break his will. Conor will land a lot of solid shots and may even wobble Khabib, but he’s going to get to close and Khabib will save himself with the takedown.
Cody Stamann: If the fight goes past the 2nd round, Conor’s chances of winning are slim to none. I think he’s got a really good chances of knocking Khabib out in rounds 1 and 2 though. Tough one to call. Conor by 2nd round KO. That’s a long shot but that’s what the sport really needs.
Karl Roberson: I’m a lefty and a striker, I’m going with my man McGregor. Khabib haven’t fought a striker like him, Conor has fought a wrestler.
Bevon Lewis: McGregor.
Matt Bessette: The people picking Khabib have short term memory loss. Conor has insane accuracy and he doesn’t even need to try. That’s his thing: accuracy. He will hit your chin time and time again. I believe that he will control the gap long enough to tag Khabib early a few times. He may even drop him in the first. I believe that Conor will win by KO in round 2 with a left hook as Khabib tries to close the gap.
Walt Harris: Conor, 2nd round ko
Kurt Holobaugh: Well I think Khabib will get the early takedown and Conor is gonna be in big trouble. Khabib is a different type of fighter that Conor has faced in the past so i think Khabib gets the stoppage in the 4th.
Max Griffin: Conor by KO. 2nd rd
Tim Means: Two predictions. If Conor wins, it’s first round KO. However, Khabib is going to pressure Mac, catch kicks and ultimately wear Mac out. 3rd round finish for Khabib
Jose Torres: Khabib 2nd round TKO.
Mark Coleman: Two of the greatest MMA Fighters of all time! The most famous vs one of the humblest! Two styles, I guess I will go with the GNP Specialist. Biggest fight ever!
Drakkar Klose: I think McGregor wins by KO, first round.
Beneil Dariush: I pick Khabib by decision. This fight will be all about who’s more patient.
Patrick Cummins: I’m against this fight and the way it was promoted by sacrificing other fighters to make this a big seller.
Belal Muhammad: Khabib by Conor tapping to strikes.
Jimmie Rivera: I believe Conor is in Khabib’s head and Conor with the KO.
Patrick Cote: Conor, KO 2nd round
Daniel Kelly: Think McGregor KO
Santiago Ponzinibbio: I think that McGregor footwork and precision will make the difference. KO by McGregor
Luis Pena: Khabib by mauling
Terrion Ware: Tough pick for me, but seeing how loose and fluid Conor looks this week, I’m picking Conor by KO.
Daniel Weichel: I think Khabib will dominate the fight with his wrestling and finish it in the 4th round by TKO.
Tim Johnson: As a grappler I want Khabib to win, but he’s shown me no reason in his past fights to think he isn’t going to get rocked by McGregor. So there’s a likely chance the fight is gonna end with a KO. On the other hand, if Khabib can survive the first 10 minutes and impose just a little bit of his clinch and pressure I feel he’ll wear McGregor down. So once McGregor gases, which we’ve seen on multiple occasions, I think Khabib imposes his will on him.
Rob Font: Conor
Alexander Hernandez: Mcgregor left hand within 2 rounds
Sam Alvey: I have been wrong about Mcgregor all but twice (both Diaz fights) with that being said I’m picking Khabib in under 3 rounds. Conor has always had a 3 round gas tank and that is against strikers, he’s about to fight the most unrelenting wrestler I have ever seen in MMA. If he doesn’t get an immediate KO (not likely) he will gas early, he will get tired of getting hit. He will look for a way out. I predict submission in under 3 rounds.
Zak Ottow: My prediction is that Conor wins. 2nd round TKO/KO. When good strikers have fought Khabib before, they were backing up too much and allowed him to close distance against the cage. Conor doesn’t do that. He comes forward to control the center of the cage and manages distance better than anyone. Early on he will have to deal with some grappling but eventually Khabib is going to get hit too much coming in and those shots will accumulate damage until the finish. ... Conor’s framing and balance makes him very hard to take down. On the ground he is extremely underrated. Only was choked when he was rocked. Before that, he handled Mendes well from bottom, swept Nate Diaz once from the bottom, and controlled max Holloway and Eddie from on top. His grappling is legit.
Shane Burgos: Classic striker vs grappler matchup. You got basically the best grappler/wrestler in Khabib vs Conor who is one of the best strikers in the sport. I think Khabib has more ways to win this fight. I can see him winning a decision, a TKO from ground and pound or a submission. We all know what Conor is going to want to do, keep it on the feet and light him up. I feel like Conor has to land that big left hand in the early stages of the earlier rounds. As the fight goes on Khabib only gets better. Not sleeping on Conor’s power, he’s lethal but my prediction is Khabib by second round submission.
Nick Newell: Khabib will wear him down for a decision & Conor won’t get on the mic so nobody will laugh but that’s showbiz baby.
Claudio Puelles: I have Khabib winning. Too much pressure in his fighting style. But McGregor has proven everyone wrong before so he could surprise us all.
Ben Nguyen: Conor McGregor! Left straight! First round! Jose Aldo 2!
Rolando Dy: I’m picking McGregor, but it can go either way. If we look at the last two fights of Khabib, Conor has a big chance of winning. Remember, he did not finish Al Iaquinta, who’s way smaller than Conor. Imagine if Conor can separate like Iaquinta did. Game over for Khabib. But again, the only hole of Conor here is his cardio, and that’s Khabib’s best weapon. So my prediction is 1st or 2nd KO for McGregor, or 3,4,5, sub, TKO, or decision to Khabib.
Russell Doane: I honestly want Conor to win. I’d like to see his whiskey sales skyrocket. Conor by TKO
Fighters picking Khabib: 19
Fighters picking McGregor: 22
Fighters that are undecided: 6