Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is a battle of styles that the sport of MMA was made for. Maybe the best striker at the match vs the best grappler in this game is a fantasy fight for UFC fans and Nurmagomedov, the existing UFC lightweight winner, is favored to succeed -170 with McGregor coming back at +140. The mega-fight will occur tonight in vegas at UFC 229.
From a promotional standpoint, making the battle is a dream come true for the UFC since it will definitely be one of the most lucrative events in their history, and from a betting standpoint, there’s lots of money to be made too. McGregor fans will be foaming at the mouth to put a wager on the Irishman, particularly at plus-money, but is that a wise bet vs the 26-0 Nurmagomedov, whose smothering grappling design has been completely unsolvable?
McGregor’s grappling skills are most likely in the average selection and that is a place where he’s been taken advantage of before. A considerably smaller Chad Mendes easily took McGregor into the mat whenever he wanted to at UFC 189 (yes, I understand McGregor won the fight), and he had been choked out by Nate Diaz in UFC 196.
He does have a substantial drawback when it comes to wrestling, but there are other regions where McGregor could have a definite upper hand, most notably with his palms. Eighteen of his 21 professional wins have come through T/KO and he’s got an extremely impressive hit list that includes finishes of Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier and, needless to say, Paulie Malignaggi (insert smiley face emoji here).
Line Movement (or lack thereof)
In the event the quantity of betting action McGregor obtained vs Floyd Mayweather is any indicator, some bettors certainly don’t care how he matches stylistically — after launching at +950 vs Mayweather, McGregor closed at +265 due to an avalanche of stakes placed on him.
Many, such as myself, assumed that we would have seen far more movement on the line due to plenty of public cash coming in around McGregor, but that hasn’t been the case however. On the afternoon Khabib vs McGregor has been announced, Nurmagomedov opened -200 with McGregor in +160. Together with the champ currently at -170 and Conor at +140 on the day of the struggle, there’s still pretty good value on McGregor as a puppy and people that are convinced in Khabib should feel good about getting him at a far better number than his opening chances.