Oddsmakers wasted zero time setting money lines for what would be the biggest fight in UFC history. That’s not hyperbole: a scrap between undisputed lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and lineal champion Conor McGregor would smash pay-per-view records.
Right now, these dudes are on a collision course. We’re still waiting to see what will happen to McGregor after he hulk smashed a fighter bus at UFC 223, but we really doubt that it’ll be too serious. Any other fighter probably would’ve received a lifetime ban. But when you’re the biggest UFC star in the world, you get special treatment.
It definitely won’t delay a cash cow like this fight. The fact that Khabib is 26-0 and wearing the belt that Conor never lost in the cage is enough to sell this fight, but now there’s actual beef here. “The Notorious” and his posse trashed Khabib’s bus in retaliation for the Russian cornering McGregor teammate Artem Lobov at the fighter hotel just a night earlier.
Those dudes were screaming for Khabib’s head, challenging him to come out. Thankfully, UFC staff stopped that from happening – but can you imagine the buildup for the fight now? If you were hyped about the press conferences between McGregor and Nate Diaz, just wait until this scrap gets booked.
McGregor is a master trash talker, a relentless instigator and a habitual line crosser. Nurmagomedov’s accent, cool demeanor and take-no-shit attitude makes him seem like a real life Russian gangster. His deadpan delivery makes him lowkey one of the funniest personalities in the sport. And there’s just no way he’d let Conor get away with the same type of antics that he pulled on Jose Aldo.
Ok, enough hype – let’s get into the opening odds. You might be surprised to see that Nurmagomedov opened as a major favorite. Peep the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu:
Khabib Nurmagomedov -245 vs Conor McGregor +175
There are a few things driving the prices here. The first is recency bias: Khabib has been active, and he’s been crushing dudes with the efficiency of a Terminator. Al Iaquinta, a good lightweight, was dragged to the mat and hammered.
It seemed so easy that the Russian seemed to make a conscious decision to stop going for takedowns and beat the New Yorker at his own game towards the end. In the final frames of their scrap, Khabib outboxed a tremendous boxer – pretty good for a dude that’s primarily considered a wrestler.
Edson Barboza? Please. Nurmagomedov completely disregarded the top 5 lightweight, walking right through the striking ranges of an explosive knockout artist and dragging the fight to the ground. Joe Rogan, commentating ringside, noted how defeated Barboza looked when he found himself on his back time and time again.
Michael Johnson fared even worse. Nurmagomedov was thrashing him so thoroughly that the Russian was heard telling the American to give up while he was pummeling him in the cage. That’s just gangster.
McGregor is a special fighter, but if he fights by the end of 2018 it’ll be nearly two years outside of the octagon for the Irishman. Not only would he have to deal with a stone cold killer, he’s got to shake off ring rust at the same time.
But that also gives you an opportunity. Conor’s still in the headlines, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen just how good he is. Maybe he’s never faced a wrestler like Khabib, but Khabib has never faced a sniper like Conor. This is a guy that toyed with Eddie Alvarez, knocked down the iron-chinned Nate Diaz multiple times, and handed Jose Aldo his first knockout loss with a single punch.
Here’s a fun fact: McGregor has never been an MMA underdog. There’s never been an opportunity to nearly double your money with a play on the Irishman.
Early Betting Takeaways
It’s difficult to predict how the lines will swing, but we expect McGregor’s legion of fans to bring his line up a bit. If you were betting on Conor, this is an excellent chance to lock in a great price. Conversely, Khabib’s line is too expensive to move on right now, so if you’re taking the undefeated Russian, wait to see if his line comes up.
Check out the latest UFC betting odds.