Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is a clash of styles that the game of MMA was created for. Perhaps the best striker at the match vs the best grappler in this game is a dream struggle for UFC fans and Nurmagomedov, the existing UFC lightweight champion, is favored to succeed -170 with McGregor coming back in +140. The mega-fight will occur tonight in Las Vegas in UFC 229.
From a promotional standpoint, making that the fight is a fantasy come true for the UFC as it will definitely be among the most profitable events in their history, and by a betting standpoint, there’s plenty of money to be made also. McGregor fans will be foaming at the mouth to place a bet on the Irishman, especially at plus-money, but is that a wise bet vs the 26-0 Nurmagomedov, whose smothering grappling style was completely unsolvable?
McGregor’s grappling skills are probably in the average selection and that’s an area where he’s been taken advantage of before. A much smaller Chad Mendes readily took McGregor into the mat if he wished to UFC 189 (yes, I know McGregor won the fight), and he had been choked out by Nate Diaz in UFC 196.
He does have a significant disadvantage when it comes to wrestling, however, there are other areas where McGregor could have a definite upper hand, most notably with his hands. Eighteen of his 21 professional wins have come via T/KO and he has an extremely impressive hit list that includes finishes of Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier and, of course, Paulie Malignaggi (insert smiley face emoji here).
Line Movement (or lack thereof)
In the event the quantity of gambling action McGregor obtained vs Floyd Mayweather is some indicator, some bettors clearly don’t care how he matches stylistically — following launching at +950 vs Mayweather, McGregor closed at +265 due to an avalanche of stakes placed on him.
Many, including myself, presumed that we would have seen far more movement online due to lots of public money coming in on McGregor, but this hasn’t been the case yet. On the day Khabib vs McGregor was announced, Nurmagomedov opened -200 with McGregor at +160. Together with the champ currently at -170 and Conor at +140 on the afternoon of the fight, there’s still pretty excellent value on McGregor as a puppy and those that are confident in Khabib should feel great about getting him in a much greater number than his starting chances.
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