ULTIMATE Fighting Championship world lightweight champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov retained his title after stopping challenger and former champ Conor “The Notorious” McGregor by rear-naked choke in the fourth round of their headlining fight at “UFC 229” on Sunday in Las Vegas which was marred by a brawl after the fight.
Banking on his superior grappling and ground game, Mr. Nurmagomedov (27-0) proved too much to UFC-comebacking McGregor (21-4), sending the latter to tap out late in the fourth round to make it a first successful title defense.
Earlier in the day, former interim lightweight champion Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson made a successful UFC return albeit in an anti-climactic manner, besting ex-lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis in UFC 229’s co-main event by technical knockout after the latter’s corner ruled him unable to continue after breaking his right hand.
Mr. McGregor opened things with some early hits before Mr. Nurmagomedov got things on the ground and the advantage all the way to the end of the first round.
In the second round, the Russian champion’s dominance continued, clipping the Irishman midway and then going for a barrage of ground and pound that had Mr. McGregor defending hard on his back the rest of the way.
Mr. McGregor showed some life in the third round and early fourth with strikes that rocked Mr. Nurmagomedov.
The champion though got his bearing back and went for the takedown which he would not relinquish, locking Mr. McGregor and finishing things with a rear-naked choke before referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight at the 3:02 mark of the fourth round.
But just when everybody thought it was over, Mr. Khabib went out of the Octagon and engaged with some of Mr. McGregor’s supporters while some from the Russian’s group went inside the cage and attacked the Irishman.

UFC 229 2
Tony Ferguson throws a right jab on Anthony Pettis’ face during the UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena. — STEPHEN R. SYLVANIE-USA TODAY SPORTS

Control was restored and Mr. Khabib was declared as winner. No awarding of the belt happened though to ease the tension.
FERGUSON IS BACK
Meanwhile, former interim lightweight champion Ferguson returned from knee surgery with a win after stopping Mr. Pettis in the second round.
It was an explosive fight right from the opening bell as both fighters tried to establish early control.
The second round had the fighters giving their all no end.
Mr. Pettis had Mr. Ferguson in trouble after connecting with a solid right to the chin but eventually the latter recovered and inflicted his own damage on the former, who by the time the second round ended was all bloodied up from a huge cut on his head.
Moments later, Mr. Pettis’ corner confirmed that its fighter broke his right hand in the hard exchanges and decided not to continue, handing the win to Mr. Ferguson.
“No concern at all that I rushed my return [from knee surgery}. Nobody was going to take this away from me, I’m [expletive] back!” said Mr. Ferguson post-fight even as he called out Mr. McGregor for a showdown.
In other fights in the main card of UFC 229, light heavyweight Dominick Reyes topped Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27), heavyweight Derrick Lewis came from behind to knock out Alexander Volkov in the third round, and women’s strawweight Michelle Waterson beat Felice Herrig by UD (30-26, 29-28 and 30-27).
In the Philippines, Cignal TV, the country’s foremost direct-to-home (DTH) company, is the home of the UFC after the two groups agreed to an extensive deal that will see the UFC beamed on various platforms. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo