Just as a longer fight likely works in favor of Khabib Nurmagomedov against Conor McGregor in what is being called the biggest bout in UFC’s history, bettors might also need to wait out the pre-fight odds.
With his UFC lightweight championship on the line, the undefeated Nurmagomedov is a -160 favorite on the Khabib-McGregor odds with the Irishman coming back at +130 in the main event on the card for UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The quintessential showdown between grappler and striker — likely no need to guess who is who — might see a reprise of a pattern with the odds for McGregor fights. The line moved toward parity late before The Notorious One’s boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017, suggesting the former two-division’s champion has a fanbase who hew to the Han Solo maxim of “never tell me the odds.”
This time around, Nurmagomedov opened at -200, so those convinced he can handle McGregor, who last got in the Octagon 23 months ago, might wish to wait until closer to fight time.
For Nurmagomedov, eight of his 10 career UFC bouts have gone at least three rounds, winning six by unanimous decision, which is offered at +400 in method-of-victory UFC 229 props. Nurmagomedov is a superior wrestler who puts endless pressure on opponents, and it’s realistic to think that if he can protect his chin from McGregor, then he could end the fight relatively early through submission (+290) or KO/TKO/DQ (+280).
There are also +1400 odds on the fight ending in Round 5, with +235 on it going the distance.
Nineteen of McGregor’s 21 career wins in mixed martial arts have ended in either the first or second rounds. It’s probably no secret that McGregor will need an early strike to establish himself, and his footwork might help him play some rope-a-dope against the takedown attempts of Nurmagomedov in the early round.
There are +333 odds at UFC betting sites on a KO/TKO/DQ win by either fighter in Round 1, with the price jumping to +475 in Round 2, which seems like a way that both McGregor fans and skeptics can back up their sentiments. The over/under on the fight’s duration is 2.5 rounds, with the under at -140 and the over at even money.
One prop where laying chalk on McGregor seems to make the most sense is -175 to have a longer walkout. Nurmagomedov is priced at +125.
In a lightweight lead-in bout on the main card, Tony Ferguson (-350) is favored against Anthony Pettis (+265) on the UFC 229 odds in a matchup between two submission stylists. A knee injury has contributed to this being Ferguson’s first bout in more than a year, so there’s a strong possibility of the fight going to a decision.
Rising light heavyweight Dominick Reyes (-225) faces a stiff test against Ovince Saint Preux (+175), who has never quite been able to hang with the division’s elite. The scenario seems tailor-made for Reyes, who has ended of his nine career bouts in Round 1, to have another short night.
Alexander Volkov (-190) has been moving deeper into minus money ahead of facing Derrick Lewis (+155), whose sometimes-wonky back condition may give bettors pause. Volkov rates having the edge in both the volume of his striking and his striking defense.
And Felice Herrig (-130) might be a vulnerable favorite against Michelle Waterson (+100) in a women’s strawweight bout. Herrig has a diverse skill set but also absorbs significant strikes at a frighteningly high rate, while Waterston is proficient with both landing significant strikes and converting takedown attempts. Herrig’s fights tend to go to a decision, which could repeat itself here.
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