UFC 229 Strategy Guide: Tony Ferguson vs Anthony Pettis Will be an Absolute War

The co-main event between Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis is destined for greatness.

As far as the promotion has been concerned, UFC 229 features only one bout on the card and that’s the match up between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former double champ Conor McGregor. Yes, it potentially could be the biggest fight in UFC history as far as the numbers are concerned, but let’s not forget that there are some other matches on the card that not only pack the same dynamic punch in terms of entertainment value, but is nearly as important as the main event. Namely, Tony Ferguson versus Anthony Pettis has the makings of what could be the fight of the night.

How do these two match up and what strategies should they employ? Take a look below to find out.

Tony Ferguson

It wasn’t too long ago that Tony Ferguson was considered the UFC Interim Lightweight champion, winning the belt against Kevin Lee at UFC 216. Ferguson utilized a different game plan in his last bout, being taken down by the powerful wrestler. Ferguson would go on to submit Lee with a triangle in the second frame showcasing his submission ability off of his back. But make no mistake, Tony Ferguson is all about mixing things up constantly to keep his opponents guessing.

The Rafael dos Anjos match highlighted a number of things about Tony Ferguson. Firstly, his work ethic is on a whole different level. He has a willingness to throw himself into the fire and stay in his opponent’s face, all the while draining away at their confidence and gas tank in equal measure.

Tony Ferguson Strategy

It’s no secret what Tony Ferguson is going to aim to do in this fight. Taking a similar approach to his battle with Edson Barboza, Ferguson shouldn’t allow Anthony Pettis any room to throw his devastating kicks. Switching from boxing to a front kick game will allow Ferguson to close more distance and take away the range from Pettis.

Ferguson should aim to push forward with jabs and create controlled chaos, switching from traditional takedowns to submission attempts with regularity.

Pettis is also dangerous at boxing range, so staying in clinching range and throwing some tight elbows will also be a great strategy to lean on.

When he does get Pettis to the ground, Ferguson should opt for control rather than spamming submission attempts as the former Lightweight champion is very proficient in scrambles.

Anthony Pettis

Once considered the most dangerous Lightweight on the planet, Anthony Pettis has had a rough go of it since losing his title to Rafael dos Anjos. Since then he’s lost some tough bouts with Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, and Dustin Poirier, all of them top flight competition. Yet despite that fact, Pettis has also performed well against battle tested veteran Jim Miller and most recently Michael Chiesa.

The Chiesa bout in particular was impressive because of two reasons. For one, we saw some pretty solid takedown defense out of Pettis as well as willingness to strike despite the wrestling threat, something he’s shied away from since losing his belt to Rafael dos Anjos. We also saw the return of his continuous submission attack which opened up opportunities for Pettis to return to his feet. In recent years he was so concerned with getting back to his feet that he forgot about his offense from the bottom. The match with Chiesa showed that Pettis’ killer instinct had returned both on the feet and on the ground.

Anthony Pettis Strategy

The camp of Anthony Pettis has to know what Tony Ferguson is likely to attempt. Pettis will want to keep the fight at kicking range, but Ferguson will likely look to create chaos and put the former champion on the backfoot. Side to side movement and straight counter punching should be a priority for Pettis in this bout.

Pettis should also look to constantly attack the body before coming up top with a high amplitude attack.


If the fight should hit the ground, Pettis can’t allow himself to settle on the bottom and should be looking for constant submission to either get him back to his feet or potentially finish the fight during a takedown attempt or wrestling transition.

Who do you think wins the UFC 229 main event?

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Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his InstagramTwitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.


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