Kia ora and welcome to live coverage from Las Vegas as Conor McGregor squares off with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 229.
In one of the most highly anticipated MMA bouts in history, the Irish superstar makes his comeback to the Octagon after a two-year hiatus against the unbeaten Russian, in a bid to recapture his lightweight title.
Fight-by-fight coverage will start from around 2pm before we move into blow-by-blow commentary of the main event.
In the meantime check out the video above for a preview of today's showdown.
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Main event: Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov - Nurmagomedov wins via fourth-round submission
6:12pm - Bruce Buffer is left all on his lonesome to annouce Khabib as the winner. Surreal scenes, and we are done here. Wow. Who knows what happens from here. Click here for the full wrap and video highlights.
6:10pm - Khabib is asking where his belt is. President Dana White tells him he's not going to put his belt on him for fear of the crowd getting hostile. Security envelop him out the back as he's pelted with water bottles from the understandably angry Irish.
6:07pm - McGregor is rushed out of the Arena surrounded by security. He really had no part to play in this debacle, whatsover.
6:05pm - Way to tarnish your moment, Khabib. Things are finaly starting to clam down. Really ugly scenes all around and he's just put a black mark on what was a fantastic win.
6:00pm - It's bedlam at T-Mobiler Arena! Khabib screams at McGregor after he forces the tap then leaps out of the ring and starts swinging with McGregor's teammate, Dillon Danis.
Unbelieveable scenes - one of Khabib's teammates is now in the Octagon throwing shots at McGregor, and he caught him with at least one big punch.
Round four - Into the championship rounds we go! Khabib complaining about Conor grabbing his gloves. McGregor looks like he may have found a second-wind, lighter on the feet as he lands a couple of rights. Khabib swings widley with the overhand right, getting dangerously close to counter range. Khabib shoots, he's got the takedown. McGregor edges to his feet but Khabib deftly switches to the back and eases him to the mat. Khabib tying him up with his legs again, moves into full mount, then back mount. In sinks the choke and this is over!
Round three - What does Mcgregor have left here? We'll find out. One-two finds its mark but there's not much pop in the shots. Khabib has to be feeling the pinch too after all that ground and pound. Khabib trying to find his spot to shoot, does so and Conor stuffs it and replies with an elbow. Big right hand from Khabib now and changes levels, stuffed again by McGregor. Lead uppercut rocks Khabib's head back, the Russian beckons him forward. Back and forth they go, standing right in front of each other but neither fighter throwing with much power. Khabib presses him to the fence, McGregor defending well, fighting the hands. Clock ticking away, McGregor lands a knee and that will do us. Closest round to date, but I'd still give it to Khabib.
Round two - McGregor did fairly well there, despite being on the bottom for the majority of the round. Now back to the feet, can Khabib get him back to the deck? Khabib lands a big right! McGregor is wobbled! he rushes in and misses with a flying knee and the two exchange wildly. Khabib shoots the double leg and it's back to the mat - full mount and dangertime for Conor. Khabib with some heavy shots from the top now as he sits in guard and rains down shots. Khabib is dominating and he's letting Conor know about it. Khabib postures and absolutely unloads on McGregor, he is utterly pulverizing the Irishman. Khabib looking for the kimura now...McGregor works his way up the fence and to his feet, the Irish faithful roar him on but he almost looks spent. he survives for now. That's a 10-8 round for Khabib. Dominant.
Round one - No glove touch, it's on! Huge pressure early from McGregor, throws the right but doesn't quite land. Khabib shoots, he's got his leg but can't quite secure the takedown. Excellent takedown defence, but he can't hold off and falls to the mat. Khabib has both legs cinched as Mcgregor tries to use the fence to get up but he's well and truly locked up. Khabib needs to work some offense now to avoid being stood up. Works into the mount effectively but Conor is limiting in any damage. Khabib using his legs to tie up Conor's legs, high level stuff right there. Mcgregor gets a second to brathe as Khabib repositions. McGregor using a butterfly guard but Khabib just keeps easing his weight upon him, so much pressure. Khabib lands a few shots from above as he continues to improve his position, two big shots land as a solid round for Khabib ends.
5:38pm - The jeers rain down for Khabib, predictably.
5:36pm - The inimitable Bruce Buffer warms into his introductions, the lights fall. Enormous cheers for the Irishman and he soaks every single one of them up.
5:34pm - Brace yourself team, this is actually about to happen.
5:32pm - Khabib begins his entrance as the Dagetsani banger drops, almost drowned out by boos.
5:29pm - McGregor looking as focused as ever with the Irish flag draped over his shoulders, the volume lifts to 11 as he takes to the Octagon engulfed in dry-ice. That's a new one.
5:28pm - Here we go! The Octagon bathed in green as the strains of Notorious BIG ring through the T-Mobile Arena, followed by "The Notorious" one himself.
5:19pm - The main event is now just moments away, stay tuned.
Co-main event - Anthony Pettis vs Tony Ferguson - Ferguson wins via TKO
5:15pm "Where you at McNuggets you piece of sh*t!" Ferguson screams at McGregor. I'm down for that one.
Eleven wins in a row for "El Cucuy" and that may have been one of the best.
5:10pm - Pettis tells his corner he's broken his hand, and coach Duke Roufus presses him carefully. Can he really continue? No he can't, this one is all over. Ferguson breaks down in tears as he realises he's won what will go down as a classic.
Round two - Pettis catches Ferguson with a heavy right! Chases him across the Octagon as Ferguson attempts to roll out of danger. Pettis lands in Ferguson's gaurd and there's a whole lot of blood coming from both men. Both men bloodies as they return to the feet and the crowd roars, this is some battle. Pettis with a wild spinning back kick that wafts, Ferguson follows with a flying knee, ripping to the body now. Fersguson seems fully recovered now, back to that non-stop pressure. Coming from all angles now as he goes body-head. Pettis is eating a ton of shots here, both fighters masked in blood. Ferguson measures an elbow, Pettis responds. This is incredible, the Irish faithful now finding their voice with chants of appreciation. Ferguson unloads as the round ticks away, what a stunner.
Round one - Ferguson comes out with immediate pressutre, few know how to push the pace like this man. Pettis stings him with one of his trademark sidekicks and Ferguson is limping already. Fresh off knee surgery, that may have reaggravated something. Pettis constantly back-pedalling but he's having some scuccess on the counter. Ferguson relentless, switching stances and breaching the defense with a one-two. Pettis starting to feel those shots and he's beginning to wane while Ferguson just ups the ante. No signs of any issues with the knee now as he closes the round with an attempted "Showtime punch", a dose of Pettis' own medicine. That's one in the bag for Ferguson.
4:52pm - Oh yes, I'm excited about this one. Two former lightweight champions set to throw down - Pettis looking to continue his recent resurgence, and Ferguson trying to cement his spot as the division's number one contender.
4:47pm - Just one fight to go before we hit the main event, people. But you'll want to stick around for Ferguson vs Pettis, trust me.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Dominick Reyes - Reyes wins via unanimous decision
Round three - OSP needs a finish to win this one. Cut opening up on his forehead now as he starts with a touch more aggression. Reyes more cautious with his shots now, OSP presses forward but he needs to turn up the volume with the strikes. Low kick stings OSP, follows with an elbow that opens up another big cut, the blood starts to gush down the Haitian's face. The seconds tick down to just five and Reyes floors OSP with a monster left-hand on the button! Reyes walks off with his hands raised and there's confusion as to whether the KO beat the final hooter. It appears it didn't, to the judges we go for a straight-forward decision.
Round two - Reyes back to work, precision strikes to the body. OSP shoots and eats a knee for his troubles, Reyes reverses position and puts him on the fence. They seperate and Reyes lands another heavy kick, varying his shots nicely. Reyes having his way on the feet and OSP's face is starting to bloody up. Hooters sounds on another big round for Reyes.
Round one - Reyes wastes no time and immediately unleashes a trio of weighty kicks and they each find their mark. St. Preux looks to clinch but Reyes separates and lands a straight right. St. Preux shoots again but the takedown defense is superb from Reyes. St. Preux gets the body lock and lands the takedown but Reyes is right back to his feet. Reyes lands a four-piece combo that wobbles St. Preux, Reyes gives him room to breathe - really needs to press here. Solid opening round in Reyes' favour.
4:24pm - The Haitian follows suit and the action is imminent.
4:20pm - To the light heavyweight division we go, the uber-dangerous Reyes taking to The Octagon to "Return of the Mack". I'm unsure whether that's an L or an emphatic W.
Derrick Lewis vs. Alexander Volkov - Lewis wins via third-round KO
4:134pm - "I had to take my shorts off, my balls got hot," Lewis tells Joe Rogan as he removes his pants. Vintage "Black Beast".
4:12pm - Wow. Classic heavyweight fare right there, the fight can turn on a single shot at any time and Lewis hung in there and found the killer shot he needed.
Round three - Lewis repeats his odd takedown attempt from earlier with similar results. Huge right staggers Lewis, somehow he stays standing. Volkov measures to the body as Lewis covers up. To the leg kicks now - you get the sense if Volkov opted to pour it on he could finish this quickly with one blitz. Lewis lunges forward with some 'Hail Mary' hooks, Volkov avoids them with ease but gets caught with one last looping right. Lewis catches him again! Volkov tumbles like a mighty Kauri, Leiws follows up with some massive shots from above and the referee steps in. What a comeback.
"The Notorious" is in the building!
Round two - Volkov pumps the jab early, lands an uppercut on the money and Lewis felt that one, his eye starting to swell shut. One-two from Volkov finds its mark, defends a half-hearted takedown then repeats the dose. Lewis is wobbly but he's hanging in there, needs to try and close the distance. Volkov goes to the teep kick, measuring his shots carefully. Lewis lands a right which sends Volkov's mouthguard flying to the mat, and that will do us. Lewis will need a finish to win this one.
Round one - Early feeling out process ends with Volkov landing a frontkick-right hand combo that has Lewis turtling, this could be a quick one. Lewis circles away before eating another big right, seems to have been an eye poke. Time out. Back to it as Volkov stalks , patient with his shots. Lewis shoots one of the most bizarre takedown attempts you'll see and ends up on the mat, fighst his way back to feet and lands a right hook on the button - Volkov eats it and lands the takedown, delivering short elbows from half guard. Transitions to Lewis' back, the American fighting the arm and defending well, then turns into Volkov's guard. Stands and rains down some huge shots and the round ends. Entertaining stuff from the big units early, would have to give that one to Volkov.
3:48pm - Two heavy hitters on display here. The real question may be whether Lewis can reach the chin of the 6ft 7in Volkov. The man looks like Drago 2.0.
3:45pm - The big heavyweights are up next in a 'Cold War' clash between Lewis and Volkov. Plenty of hype behind the Russian, this will be a great litmus test for him here against Lewis.
Michelle Waterson vs. Felice Herrig - Waterson wins via unanimous decision
3:40pm - Waterson tells Joe Rogan she wants to become the first UFC champion mum. That one went down well with the T-Mobile Arena.
Waterson gets the nod!
Round three - I think this one decides the winner. Waterson straight right hand, goes back to the sidekick, they clinch and go to ground, Herrig spins into top position but finds herself eating some big elbows from the bottom. Herrig struggling to do any damage from the top, Waterson threatens with the triangle and the ref stands them up, great job Waterson. Straight back to the well for Herrig as she engages, shes has Waterson against the fnec in a full body lock - Waterson manages to separate. Both fighters running low on fuel as the fight draws to a close, actions draws to a standstill. Think Waterson may have nabbed a tight decision win.
Round two - Straight back to the clinch and Waterson finds herself with her back against the fence again. Waterson reverses position and lands a nasty elbow, then takes Herrig to the mat and moves into side control. More elbows from the top, now Waterson chasing full mount. Herrig defending stoutly, Waterson postures up to delivers some elbows and is forced back into Herrig's full guard. Herrig threatens with a triangle as the round closes, a good one for Waterson.
Round one - Herrig presses early, leg kicks open her salvo. Clearly the much bigger fighter. Waterson with the classic front sidekick, follows with another to the face, should be plenty more of those from the Karate specialist. Herrig is dictating the Octagin but Waterson is having plenty of success with her counterstrikes. Herrig sneaks through a straight right and immediately clinches, Waterson looking to use the underhook to escape but Herrig is unrelenting. Waterson lands a glancing blow as she breaks clear in the dying seconds. Tight round, edge it for Herrig.
3:15pm - "The Karate Hottie" follows wearing a traditional Muay Thai mongkol atop her head. Look out.
3:14pm - Herrig makes her entrance adorned in red,white and blue braids. 'Murica.
3pm - That does us for the preliminary fights. Main card - here we come.
A women's strawweight bout will get us started for the pay-per-view portion of the afternoon - Michelle Waterson vs. Felice Herrig.
Sergio Pettis vs Jusier Formiga - Formiga wins via unanimous decision
Round three - Formiga works his way to Pettis' back, forcing him to carry his weight as he delivers blows from behind while he works for a rear-naked choke. Building to three straight minutes of Pettis piggy-backing him now, has to be taking its toll. Fight fizzles to a close and you'd think Formiga will secure a unanimous decision.
Round two - Formiga swiftly back into Pettis' guard, moves into half guard. Formiga hunting for the head-and-arm choke. Pettis defends well and sweeps his way back to his feet, but that's probably a second round in the bag for Formiga.
Round one - Closely fought opening stanza ends with Formiga working top position after a tidy double-leg. Most of the offense coming form ther Brazilian so far.
2pm - If early proceedings are anything to go by, this card is going to be a doozy. A slew of KOs - including two via head kick - have hopefully set the tone for an action-packed arvo.
Check out Vincent Luque's brutal finish of Jalin Turner below.
Head to head:
Conor McGregor - $2.30 Khabib Nurmagomedov - $1.57
Khabib Nurmagomedov (c)(26-0) vs. Conor McGregor (21-3) - Nurmagomedov wins via fourth-round submission
Tony Ferguson (25-3) vs. Anthony Pettis (21-7) - Ferguson wins via second-round TKO
Ovince Saint Preux (22-11) vs. Dominick Reyes (9-0) - Reyes wins via unanimous decision
Derrick Lewis (20-5, 1 NC) vs. Alexander Volkov (29-6) - Lewis wins via third-round KO
Michelle Waterson (15-6) vs. Felice Herrig (14-7) - Waterson wins via unanimous decision
Sergio Pettis (17-3) vs. Jussia Formiga (21-5) - Formiga wins via unanimous decision
Vicente Luque (13-6-1) vs. Jalin Turner (6-3) - Luque wins via first-round KO
Aspen Ladd (6-0) vs. Tonya Evinger (19-6, 1NC) - Ladd wins via first-round KO
Scott Holtzman (11-2) vs. Alan Patrick (15-1) - Holtzman wins via third-round KO
McGregor returns for 'love of the game'
By Stephen Foote
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and that certainly rings true for MMA superstar Conor McGregor.
After a two-year hiatus, the Irishman will return to the combat arena on Sunday (NZ time), when he takes on Khabib Nurmagomedov in a bid to recapture his lightweight title at UFC 229 in Las Vegas.
It’s a comeback many thought would never eventuate. McGregor tested the lucrative waters of the boxing world in a bout against Floyd Mayweather last year, capturing the sporting world’s attention and shooting his star - and his bank account - into another stratosphere.
During that layoff, he was stripped of both his lightweight and featherweight belts, an act that struck a deep chord with the Dubliner.
"I spent my entire life's work to win those two UFC world titles," McGregor told The Mac Life.
"I set out a goal, I put absolutely everything [into it], I sacrificed so much to gain those world titles. Then, as soon as I won the second world title, I hadn’t been offered a featherweight contest and the featherweight title was taken off me, and was handed back to a man I had crazy history with."
That man was Jose Aldo, who McGregor famously defeated in record-breaking fashion to claim his first world championship in late 2015.
"I travelled the world with him, it was a two-year build up and he ended up pulling out at the last minute. When I ended up fighting him, I knocked him out in 13 seconds and then they gave him the belt back as soon as I walked outside the Octagon in Madison Square Garden.
"And then what? About a month or two [later], the lightweight belt is stripped from me also.
"These things irritated me, seeing what way it goes, who the belts are given to, see who the people are who are challenging for the belts and who the person who has the belt is facing to get the belt.
"Many things irritated me in the game and watching it all unfold, I just became a lot more hungry to come back and show who the real king is."
That desire to regain his UFC throne eventually won out, as McGregor rediscovered his passion for the sport.
"I'm here for the love of this game, love for competition. I fell out of love with the game for a bit.
"I went off and did my own thing, had many things going on, now I’m back.
"I'm hungry to compete and we're here, right on the cusp of it, making weight and handling media obligations, and that's it.
"The fans have just missed me compete, like I have missed me compete also. We all get what we want on October 6 - McGregor back inside the famous UFC Octagon."
With a fresh eight-fight deal inked with the UFC, McGregor (21-3) will begin his reintroduction to the Octagon against Russian grappling phenomenon Nurmagomedov in an archetypal 'striker vs wrestler' duel.
'The Eagle' is undefeated through 26 professional fights, his dominance so supreme that he's arguably never lost a round.
Predictably, the Irishman is utterly unfazed, offering his traditional - and often eerily accurate - 'Mystic Mac' pre-fight prediction.
"I believe KO," the 30-year-old told The Ariel Helwani Show. "Devastating, devastating KO.
"I hope it's not too early, to be honest. I believe I will clatter him, he will crumble - I don't believe he can take a smack.
"A lot of people believe the fight hinges on whether he can take it, whether he has the chin of a Diaz or maybe the composure of a Mayweather.
"But I don't believe he has either of those. I think he reacts like a novice and I think he is a man with a glass chin that hasn’t been cracked yet.
"He's been cracked a little bit, but not by a sniper rifle. I hope he absorbs it and then I'm going to maul him.
"Let's see who's having a conversation in there. Let's see who's doing the talking."