Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is a battle of styles that the game of MMA was made for. Maybe the best striker at the match vs the best grappler in this sport is a fantasy struggle for UFC fans and Nurmagomedov, the existing UFC lightweight champion, is favored to win -170 with McGregor coming back at +140. The mega-fight will take place tonight in vegas at UFC 229.
From a promotional standpoint, making the fight is a dream come true for the UFC as it will undoubtedly be one of the most lucrative events in their own history, and by a betting standpoint, there’s plenty of money to be produced too. McGregor fans will probably be foaming at the mouth to place a bet about the Irishman, particularly at plus-money, but is that a smart wager versus the 26-0 Nurmagomedov, whose smothering grappling design has been completely unsolvable?
McGregor’s grappling skills are probably in the average selection and that’s a place where he’s been cared for before. A much smaller Chad Mendes readily took McGregor into the mat if he wanted to at UFC 189 (yes, I know McGregor won the fight), and he was choked out by Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
He can have a substantial disadvantage when it comes to wrestling, however, there are different regions where McGregor would have a definite upper hand, most notably with his palms. Eighteen of his 21 professional wins have come via 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 received vs Floyd Mayweather is any indication, some bettors clearly do not care how he matches up stylistically — following opening at +950 vs Mayweather, McGregor closed at +265 due to an avalanche of bets placed on him.
Many, including myself, assumed that we would have seen far more movement online due to plenty of public cash coming in on McGregor, but that has not been the case however. On the afternoon Khabib vs McGregor was announced, Nurmagomedov opened -200 with McGregor in +160. Together with the champ now at -170 and Conor in +140 on the day of the fight, there’s still pretty good value on McGregor as a dog and people who are convinced in Khabib should feel great about getting him at a far greater number than his opening odds.
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