LAS VEGAS — Khabib Nurmagomedov battered Conor McGregor with his ground-and-pound, just as he said he would, and forced to him tap out in the fourth round of Saturday's main event at UFC 229.
After forcing McGregor to submit, Nurmagomedov hopped the fence and brawled with McGregor's cornermen before the chaos spilled into the octagon and engulfed McGregor, with several people throwing blows before security could restore order.
Nurmagomedov retained the lightweight title that McGregor once owned, improving to 27-0, while the Irish star fell flat in his first UFC fight since November 2016.
In the co-main event, Tony Ferguson, six months removed from knee surgery, was in the gravest danger he's found himself when Anthony Pettis dropped him with a punch early in the second round of their UFC 229 fight Saturday night.
In a revealing display of the drive that has won him 11 consecutive fights, Ferguson answered with a slew of punches that opened deep cuts on Pettis' nose, near his left eye and on the right side of the head by the end of the round.
And after examining Pettis' broken hand, his trainer had seen enough, stopping the fight as his corner tended to the wounded former lightweight champion.
"I tried to put him away ... I tested that leg ... that's a tough guy, bro," said Pettis (21-8).
Ferguson (24-3) jumped into a right-handed punch that backed up Pettis in the first round. When Pettis opened the second by dropping Ferguson, the Orange County fighter somersaulted into two more punches before finding a way out of the trouble and letting his boxing shine in frenzied action that brought both men to beam smiles at each other before clashing again.
Ferguson's damage with punches was extensive, though, and upon the victory he called out McGregor for a long-awaited fight.
"Nobody was going to take this from me," Ferguson said. "I'm back."
Earlier, Derrick Lewis dropped hints he was cagey during the first round of his heavyweight fight against fellow top-10-rated Alexander Volkov of Russia.
In the third round, having saved as much as energy as the full-bellied, 265-pound Lewis could keep in reserve, he dropped his hidden bomb. The thunderous right hand sent Volkov to the canvas and set up a finish with just 11 seconds remaining in the bout that came by Lewis pounding two final rights to an unresponsive Volkov.
"I told you boys I've got heart," said Lewis, who won a widely panned dull match against Francis Ngannou in his previous bout.
Volkov (29-7) relied on his reach and length to get the better of Lewis in the first two rounds, as Lewis (21-5) complained of getting poked in the eye to earn one break, then ducked as if more seriously hurt than he actually was in other moments. He was trying in those moments to sneak in a blasted punch, but would either miss or Volkov would back up in time to reduce the sting.
Except for the last one.
"Donald Trump told me I've got to knock this big Russian out, so (Americans) can't talk anymore (stuff) about (Russian president Vladimir) Putin" manipulating Trump, Lewis joked.
Victorville light-heavyweight Dominick Reyes thought he'd pulled off a similar fantastic finish by landing a late-third-round left hand that knocked Ovince Saint Preux down just before the bell. But referee Dan Miragliotta never waved the fight off as time expired, and the result goes down as a unanimous-decision victory by three 30-27 scores.
"That's a knockout," Reyes (10-0) said. "I absolutely think it's a knockout."
The pay-per-view portion opened with Michelle Waterson convincingly defeating fellow top-10 strawweight Felice Herrig by scores of 30-26, 29-28, 30-27.
Waterson (16-6) took down Herrig in the second round and then delivered a snapping kick to Herrig's head in the third. Waterson said she dreams of being a "superstar" in the octagon, a film actress and the first UFC champion who's a mother.
"It disappoints me I'm not in that (title) talk," said the No. 8-rated Waterson, who's in a division ruled by Rose Namajunas. "I've been in this game for a long time and it can be hard to stay up here (in the top 10) for so long without a chance."
Northern California women's bantamweight Aspen Ladd established herself as one of the sport's top prospects by pummeling former featherweight title challenger Tonya Evinger on the canvas and recording a technical-knockout finish just 3:26 into the first round.
Yana Kunitskaya, another recent victim of women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, also moved to bantamweight, but she had success, defeating No. 12-rated Lina Lansberg by unanimous decision.
Fontana welterweight Jalin Turner (6-4) had difficulty rising from his first-round knockout loss to Vicente Luque (14-6-1) after getting caught with blows to the head that sent him down.
Turner frighteningly slumped while trying to sit up, and his eyes were glassy before he regained his senses.
In a bout that bored with extended holds, flyweight Jussier Formiga (22-5) defeated Pettis' brother, Sergio, by unanimous decision.
Formiga, who lost to current champion Henry Cejudo in 2015, called him out.