UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor kicked off with three fights on the Fight Pass preliminary card. The widely-dubbed biggest night in UFC history began with a big KO by welterweight Tony Martin, who put away Ryan LaFlare in the final round. After that showing, Nik Lentz thrashed the badly faded former UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard in just over six minutes. Capping off the early prelims was a slow-paced, unexciting decision win for Yana Kunitskaya over Lina Lansberg in the women’s bantamweight division. Here’s how the fights played out.
Yana Kunitskaya def. Lina Lansberg by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) – Women’s Bantamweights
Hardly anything of note happened in the first round, as Kunitskaya scored a couple of takedowns and didn’t do a whole lot of damage. It was primarily a clinch battle in round two, with Kunitskaya looking like the stronger of the fighters. The referee intervened and separated them, and Lansberg was able to connect on a right hand that caught Kunitskaya’s attention. Kunitskaya managed underhooks and the clinching ensured again. Lansberg went for a choke against the fence, didn’t get it, and also didn’t win the transition to wind up on top.
Lansberg upped the tempo briefly to start the third round, but Kunitskaya once more initiated the clinch and was able to take her opponent down. Lansberg did stand up but not before absorbing a knee and a few punches. Much to the annoyance of the fans, this fight remained mostly a slog controlled by the Russian, who picked up her first career UFC win.
Nik Lentz def. Gray Maynard by TKO (head kick and punches) at 1:19 of round 2 – Lightweights
Lentz wasted no time throwing heavy leg kicks and power punches. A right hand and left hook, followed by another right hand had Maynard hurt. After a failed takedown by Lentz, he tied Maynard up and threw several left hands to Gray’s face. Maynard eventually escaped, only to endure more punishment and suffer a body shot knockdown. Lentz continued to style on Maynard and then went for a guillotine choke, which failed. However, he was on top and just plastering Gray with ground-and-pound, and it was quite difficult to watch, as Maynard was on the receiving end of a vicious beating throughout an extremely lopsided round.
Following an accidental eye poke by Lentz, he and Maynard engaged in a slugfest, which predictably ended poorly for the former UFC title challenger. Despite landing a few good shots, Maynard was knocked down by a Lentz head kick and the fight was stopped shortly thereafter. A rare instance of Lentz winning with his striking, and an all-too-familiar feeling of a knockout loss for Gray.
Tony Martin def. Ryan LaFlare by TKO (head kick and punches) at 1:00 of round 3 – Welterweights
Round one was largely a striking match, with LaFlare throwing mostly leg kicks and body kicks and the occasional Superman punch, while Martin repeatedly tagged LaFlare with right hands. He was able to briefly drop LaFlare with a counterpunch, but LaFlare was back to his feet fairly quickly.
Another huge right hand floored LaFlare and he was in a lot more trouble with that round 2 knockdown as he was in the opening frame, as Martin unleashed face-busting ground-and-pound. Martin stayed on the ground and controlled the New Yorker. He went for a d’arce choke with just over a minute remaining, but LaFlare exploded out of it and back to his feet. LaFlare wouldn’t be as fortunate in round 3, as Martin whacked him with a head kick and punched him until the referee stopped the fight. The first pro KO of Tony Martin’s career, and it caps off a terrific performance.