Photo: Steven Ryan / Stringer Getty Images

Weekend Warrior: Clash of the Titans at UFC 229

Photo: Steven Ryan / Stringer (Getty Images)

UFC 229 sits at the epicenter of combat sports activity, as reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov will collide with returning former champion Conor McGregor in a blockbuster main event on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Tony Ferguson meets Anthony Pettis in a co-headliner that could decide the next No. 1 contender at 155 pounds.

Luck Of The Irish: Everything You Need To Know About Conor McGregor’s Infamous Rise To Stardom

Nurmagomedov carries a perfect 26-0 record into the cage. The American Kickboxing Academy standout last fought at UFC 223, where he cruised to a five-round unanimous decision over Al Iaquinta in an impromptu showdown for the vacant lightweight championship. Nurmagomedov has won all 10 of his fights under the UFC flag — a run of dominance that includes victories over Rafael dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, and Edson Barboza.

Still the brightest star in the mixed martial arts sky, McGregor has not competed inside the Octagon since he wiped out Eddie Alvarez with punches to become the UFC’s first simultaneous two-division champion in November 2016. In the interim, he launched a whiskey brand, banked millions in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr., and made headlines with his dolly attack on a charter bus shuttling fighters, Nurmagomedov among them, to and from promotional appearances ahead of UFC 223. McGregor owns a 9-1 record in the UFC.

Conor McGregor. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

UFC 229 “Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor” — which airs live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT — also features a light heavyweight clash pairing former University of Tennessee linebacker Ovince St. Preux with the unbeaten Dominick Reyes, a heavyweight battle pitting onetime Bellator MMA champion Alexander Volkov against Derrick Lewis and a women’s strawweight affair matching former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Michelle Waterson with Felice Herrig.

UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT) and Fox Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. ET) will share coverage of the seven-fight undercard. Other bouts of interest: Sergio Pettis vs. Jussier da Silva, Aspen Ladd vs. Tonya Evinger and Gray Maynard vs. Nik Lentz.

Fun Facts: 5 Things You Need to Know About UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov

With UFC 229 likely to gobble up much of the attention from fight fans, the Professional Fighters League undoubtedly hopes to piggyback on the hoopla as it begins playoffs in two weight classes. PFL 8 on Friday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans will feature quarterfinal and semifinal battles at featherweight and heavyweight. Francimar Barroso enters the heavyweight draw as the No. 1 seed and meets Josh Copeland, while a resurgent Steven Siler does the same at 145 pounds opposite Nazareno Malegarie. The event airs live on the NBC Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.

Francimar Barroso. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, former Dream, Shooto, and One Championship titleholder Shinya Aoki will shoulder the marquee at One Championship “Kingdom of Heroes,” as he locks horns with Ev Ting on Saturday at Impact Arena in Bangkok. One of the sport’s foremost submission grapplers, Aoki rides into the match with a modest two-fight winning streak in tow. The well-traveled 35-year-old has delivered 25 of his 41 career victories by submission: five by armbar, four by triangle choke, four by neck crank, three by rear-naked choke, two by gogoplata, and one each by standing armlock, heel hook, hammerlock, Achilles lock, keylock, triangle armbar, and twister.