Early Betting Preview of the McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov Fight in October
Published on August 10, 2018
The UFC has admittedly been struggling for a while now. Pretty much ever since Ronda Rousey was dropped from an undefeated god to just another punching bag for Amanda Nunes, the sport has suffered.
Throw in a lengthy absence for the brashest talent MMA has produced, possibly ever, and Dana White has had a tough time selling the UFC as the best fighting product in town.
It’s still been entertaining, at least.
Anytime you have guys like Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier banging heads, GSP coming out of retirement, or Amanda Nunes taking on all challengers, there is still some draw.
But there was a hole in the UFC’s gut. That dominance, that cockiness, that flat-out swagger just wasn’t there anymore.
Fortunately, it’s very much back come October, as Conor McGregor (aka Notorious) is back in the saddle to try his hand at being the first to take out the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Conor McGregor will face undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in Oct.
It will be McGregor's 2nd career fight at lightweight. He previously defeated Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title in 2016. He never defended the belt and was stripped of it in April. pic.twitter.com/JPUoG67WOo
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 4, 2018
This is pretty big for a few reasons, the two most important being McGregor’s second-ever lightweight fight and that it’s a bout with an amazing talent who has never been beaten professionally.
That and a win would help Notorious make even more history, handing him his second lightweight title belt.
Yeah, nobody has done that before.
Before you can dive into the hypotheticals, compare the stats, or really try to gauge which fighter has the leg up here, it’s probably wise to see how Vegas is grading this fight.
It’s always important to note that the top UFC betting sites aren’t exactly predicting anything or “taking a side.” They’re just assigning odds based on public perception.
The top MMA sportsbooks are assessing how the public is going to react to this bout and probably mixing in how they see the fight align as well.
Based on that, it’s actually a mild surprise that Bovada and other sports betting sites have McGregor as the slight underdog.
Of course, Khabib being favored isn’t ridiculous or anything. He’s literally never lost a professional bout (26-0) and is an impressive 10-0 inside the UFC specifically.
Known for his elite wrestling and explosive takedown ability, Khabib is also a versatile finisher with the ability to take opponents out in a hurry (8 KOs, 8 submissions) or grind them to a pulp (10 Decision wins).
The laundry list of viable victims Khabib has left behind as UFC corpses is pretty scary, too, with guys like Rafael dos Anjos, Thiago Tavares, Edson Barboza, and Al Iaquinta all failing to take down The Eagle.
While Nurmagomedov has yet to lose and has successfully dispatched some very good fighters, it’s quite arguable he has yet to really face anyone of McGregor’s caliber.
That isn’t to suggest he hasn’t out-witted elite wrestlers or survived some nasty strikers. He has, but McGregor is a ferocious brawler when it comes to the MMA, and his track record is arguably far more daunting.
McGregor is no slouch at 21-3, winning titles in two different weight classes and even stepping outside his comfort zone to battle the best boxer in the world in Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Notorious has never been knocked out, while all three of his defeats have come via surprise submissions. McGregor has learned from his mistakes over the years, however, as he lost twice in his first six professional bouts but has gone a blistering 17-1 since.
Nate Diaz was a bigger and possibly tougher test that he failed back at UFC 196, but Notorious battled back in a rematch and stole a Decision win to even that series up, 1-1. McGregor would later follow that up by easily dismantling Eddie Alvarez to take the lightweight belt the first time around.
Along the way, McGregor’s own body count is littered with huge names, with the legendary Jose Aldo, Alvarez, Diaz, the underrated Max Holloway, and even guys like Chad Mendes and Dustin Poirier falling to him.
There is no denying two things about this match: the hype is already out of control, and these guys are actually very evenly matched.
Both fighters are extremely dangerous and explosive, and both are in their physical primes. Neither will come in worrying about fatigue, either, as McGregor hasn’t had a UFC bout since November of 2016, and Khabib last fought in April.
McGregor’s layoff is far more noteworthy, and it will be interesting if bettors look at that as a strength when you consider fatigue vs. freshness or worry instead about his rust and awareness.
Khabib hasn’t lost yet, so his confidence is sky-high. He’s also run into guys that are bigger and stronger than McGregor, so from a tactical perspective, McGregor’s power and punching isn’t necessarily something he hasn’t seen.
Khabib also without a doubt holds the floor edge. He can finish McGregor off with a series of submission moves, his takedown offense is about as good as it gets, and he also knows how to defend and counter as well as anyone.
Obviously, Nurmagomedov has never lost, so it’s tough to gauge just how tough it would be for McGregor to knock him out or get to him so badly to force the referee to intervene.
There are no KO’s to look at, and Khabib has been quite good at keeping and/or getting himself out of trouble in that regard.
That being said, McGregor will undoubtedly aim to stave off any takedown attempts, and his only real chance here is to keep this fight off the ground.
Based on his movement, quickness, and power, McGregor absolutely has a fine chance of making that happen. Going toe-to-toe with the best boxer in the world didn’t hurt his timing and awareness when it comes to his biggest strengths, either.
One mild aspect that could help McGregor and may play right into his game is a longer reach (by three inches). That may allow McGregor to get in some good licks and stay relatively close to Khabib without also allowing Nurmagomedov to get in nasty kicks or takedown attempts.
I don’t think any of this should sugarcoat Khabib’s ability to deliver nasty strikes, of course.
Nurmagomedov is probably at his best when he’s attacking and taking the fight to the ground, but he’s also pretty ferocious with knees, kicks, and combination moves.
I think that ultimately gets thrown out the window, and you have to look at one guy who is really composed, picks his spots well, and can drop you at any second if you make a wrong move.
That’d be Notorious. His timing can be impeccable, he has fantastic precision with his striking, and he’s been really dominant considering he really only wins fights in one manner.
Khabib, as explosive and dangerous as he is, can be a bit reckless. It will be interesting to see if that’s something McGregor at all struggles to defend or that he revels in exploiting.
I’m banking on the latter.
McGregor is going to train hard and is going to come in super-fresh. Still in his prime and likely with a lot more left on his mind to accomplish in professional fighting, I think handing Khabib his first loss is going to put a huge smile on his face.
It’s also slated to make him a record sum of cash. Oh, and bettors get this bad man at a discount at +130 and possibly even better, depending on where you plan to bet on this fight.
I respect Khabib and always marvel at anyone who can stay undefeated in MMA. However, nobody wins for forever. Ronda Rousey and so many others have shown that in the worst way possible.
If anyone is going to beat Nurmagomedov in the near future, it’d make sense for it to be McGregor in his UFC return. Take the money and back the baddest man on the planet.