The opening odds for the upcoming lightweight title bout at UFC 229 between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and challenger Conor McGregor were recently released by the offshore sportsbooks, and here they are:
UFC 229 Opening Odds
Saturday, October 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
Khabib Nurmagomedov -245
Conor McGregor +175
And here are my initial thoughts on this bout:
First off, I’m just glad the UFC actually got this fight booked. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen with all of McGregor’s legal issues plus the drama with Nurmagomedov and the bus back in April, but here we are, with the fight official and slated to happen just two months from now, headlining what is sure to be a huge card at UFC 229. This fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov is maybe the most mismatched style clash between any two of the top lightweights as it’s a pure stiker (McGregor) vs. grappler (Nurmagomedov) fight. Typically, the grappler tends to win that kind of fight, which is why Nurmagomedov opened up as a solid favorite here, but you can’t forget how special of a fighter McGregor is. This is such a great fight for so many reasons.
Nurmagomedov (26-0) is a perfect 10-0 in the UFC. In his last outing, he defeated Al Iaquinta on short notice to become the new UFC lightweight champion. Just 28, the Russian has emerged as one of the sport’s most dominant fighters and now will look to have a long reign as the champion at 155lbs. With his incredible wrestling pedigree, he has the skills to do it. Nurmagomedov can take anyone down and hold them there for a full 25 minutes. He has vicious ground and pound and breaks his opponents with his unrelenting pressure. His standup, though, is his weakness. It’s just nothing special, and it could be exploited by a higher-level striker. So far, that hasn’t come into play much because Nurmagomedov can get most of his opponents to the ground, but this fight against McGregor could tell a different stroy.
McGregor (21-3) is 9-1 in the UFC and is actually on a two-fight win streak in the Octagon with victories over Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez in his last two fights after his lone Octagon defeat to Diaz. But with McGregor having not fought in MMA in nearly two years, it’s easy to forget he was winning before he took two years off to spend time with his family and box Floyd Mayweather. Back in the UFC, McGregor is going to attempt to get his title back, and there’s no reason to doubt him. The Irishman is in his prime at 30 and has some of the greatest striking we’ve ever seen out of a lightweight fighter. Nurmagomedov has not been hit much in his UFC career, but if anyone is going to get him, it’s McGregor. However, we know that McGregor does have a weakness on the ground so he better work on his takedown defense for this fight.
Although you can’t count out McGregor, Nurmagomedov’s wrestling hasn’t been stopped and he has to be favored to win considering we have seen McGregor get taken down and exploited on the mat in his few losses. Having said that, if this fight takes place for any significant amount of time on the feet, there’s going to be a big skill gap and a big power gap in the striking. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see McGregor land the KO blow. At the opening line, there might actually be some value on McGregor as this much of a dog. We’ll have to wait and see how the line moves by the time the fight comes around in October.