Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is a clash of styles that the sport of MMA was created for. Perhaps the best striker in the game vs the best grappler in the game is a dream fight for UFC fans and Nurmagomedov, the current UFC lightweight champion, is favored to win at -155 with McGregor coming back at +125.
The mega-fight will take place on October 6 in Las Vegas at UFC 229.
Making the fight is a dream come true for the UFC as it will undoubtedly be one of the most profitable 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 place a wager on the Irishman, especially at plus-money, but is that a smart bet vs the 26-0 Nurmagomedov, whose smothering grappling style has been completely unsolvable?
Khabib: The Favorite (-155)
Nurmagomedov (-155) has cardio for days and he puts relentless pressure on his opponents that they eventually just cave to, and he has his way for the duration of the bout. “The Eagle” has freakish strength for the lightweight division and that is seen in the eyes of his foes when he gets his hands on them.
His main attack is his elite-level wrestling. He averages 5.44 takedowns per 15 minutes and is constantly backing his opponent down in search of getting his hands on them. This was on full display when he took on Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 when Trujillo was dragged to the ground 21 times through their three-round bout. Khabib did show a penchant for getting hit in his last fight against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, as he was tagged 43 times in the bout, the most strikes he’d absorbed since 2013.
Styles make fights and this is a perfect example as you have the hard-hitting Conor McGregor clashing with the all-out wrestling attack from Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Ireland native will look for the early strike to reclaim his UFC lightweight belt that he never officially lost, but if this fight goes long, the momentum quickly swings in Khabib’s favor.
McGregor: The Case for Conor (+125)
Conor, on the other hand, has put on a striking master class almost every time he steps inside the Octagon. He has made strikers far superior to Khabib look completely lost in the cage (see Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier, etc.). Furthermore, Conor’s wide stance and distance control may make it tough for Khabib to close the distance and grab hold of him as easily as he’s done with other fighters. Nurmagomedov has shown in the past that when a fighter gets aggressive and pushes forward on him, he backs up in a straight line instead of circling out, which is a big striking no-no. If he does this vs McGregor, Ireland’s own will be licking his chops, as you may remember he finished Dennis Siver, Diego Brandao and Chad Mendes from this very same position.
Conor has a four-inch reach advantage going into this fight, which will prove to be a big factor as it allows him to fully utilize his wide and long karate-esque style. Not having this advantage vs Nate Diaz proved troublesome for him as he had to move inside Nate’s reach to land, but look at his fight vs Eddie Alvarez to see just how crisp and precise he is when he can stay outside and pick his shots against an opponent with a shorter reach. While keeping in mind the list of advantages the Irish fighter has on his feet, +165 for him to win by KO/TKO has never looked better.
Eddie Alvarez Offers Insight
Alvarez noticed, as many of us did, a weakness in Nurmagomedov’s game at UFC 223. He believes the Eagle keeps his head too high, which leaves him susceptible to getting tagged.
‘The Eagle’s evasiveness is underrated. Iaquinta never landed more than 16 strikes in a single round in the main event. However, as Alvarez explained to ESNews, McGregor’s operating with a different kind of power in his hands.
“Styles are match-ups. I think if Khabib does not correct the mistake of sitting back with his chin back and going to the side, Conor’s going to put his lights out with that left hand pretty bad, pretty quickly. So he needs to correct that mistake and he needs to learn to relax in the pocket and know that he’s safe. Until he does that, he’s always in danger of getting beat by a guy with knockout power like Conor McGregor.”
McGregor has tremendous footwork and will have to play the matador role as the charging bull of Khabib seeks to take him down. Khabib’s chin will be tested but he is also going to be the bigger man in the bout and if he realizes early in the fight he can handle McGregor’s power, this will be a long return to the Octagon for “The Notorious.”
f the fight goes to the ground, Nurmagomedov only sees one winner. Rather than go to the hackneyed, ‘Khabib’s a different animal on the ground,’ he focused on McGregor’s ability to cope with the nightmare.
“But Conor McGregor on his back, I don’t feel like he has a strong spirit for fighting on the ground. Some guys have a real strong spirit, they can stand up all day for five, ten rounds as long as they’re standing up but when it goes to the ground their spirit weakens.”
“I don’t think Conor has a strong enough spirit to be able to withstand Khabib’s ground attack over and over. So I’d have to give the edge to Khabib because I feel like there will be takedowns and Conor will not get up and I don’t know if he has the spirit to stay in the fight with a ground fight where Khabib is controlling fifteen to twenty minutes of a twenty-five minute fight. I’d have to give the edge to Khabib.”
UFC: CONOR MCGREGOR VS KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV
Odds as of September 28
Conor McGregor +125
Khabib Nurmagomedov -155
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