One of the craziest days in UFC took place on Thursday when Conor McGregor and his crew allegedly attacked a bus carrying numerous UFC fighters. We saw the fallout from that incident when three fights were scrapped directly because of it. We all thought Thursday was crazy but Friday has been maybe even crazier. First, Max Holloway missed weight for his UFC lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov. At first it looked like Anthony Pettis was going to step in, but the New York State Athletic Commission nixed that fight too, and they also turned down Paul Felder as a possible opponent. Finally, though, Nurmagomedov has an opponent and it’s going to be against Al Iaquinta, who is stepping up for this fight on extremely short notice.
MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas released the following opening odds for the new main event of UFC 223:
Khabib Nurmagomedov -385
Al Iaquinta +265
Kalikas provided some thoughts on the matchup as well:
“Out of all the potential matchups the UFC could have put together last minute, this has to be one of the most fan-friendly fights. People aren’t disappointed Iaquinta is getting the fight. Iaquinta actually matches up much better than Pettis did against Khabib and better than Felder or even Holloway. Iaquinta has a wrestling background with solid takedown defense and he’s the better striker in this matchup. With all that being said, Khabib’s wrestling is on another level. I would be surprised if he didn’t get Iaquinta to the floor and implement the same type of gameplan he often does, using punishing ground-and-pound and submissions against Iaquinta, whose weakness in the past has been submissions and ground IQ. One of the good things about this fight is that Iaquinta should be in fairly decent shape as he was aready supposed to be on this card against Felder, so he should be able to perform at a high level. With all the good about Iaquinta just said, he still has to open up as the underdog because he’s in for an uphill battle against Khabib. No one has been able to solve the riddle that is Khabib yet. Even though the line is far more competitive than the other opponents Khabib could have faced, I still have to open Khabib as a solid favorite.”
As far as my own opinion of the fight, I have to say it’s been a pretty crazy series of the events the last few days. That being said, it’s still another fight in Khabib’s favor. This just shows how much respect bettors have for Nurmagomedov. Although Iaquinta has solid wrestling skills, no one is on Khabib’s level when it comes to wrestling. Once again, it looks like a fight where Khabib will be able to take his opponent down and control them on the mat. Iaquinta does have KO power and I’d say he has the striking advantage in this fight, but still, it’s Khabib, and he deserves to be favored in this fight. Iaquinta’s cardio has never really been tested and Khabib has gone to deep waters and drowned his opponents before. But the fact is this fight was booked on extremely short notice and would it really be completely shocking if something funny happens?
Other opening odds Khabib fights:
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