CONOR MCGREGOR v KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV
T-MOBILE ARENA SUN 7TH OCTOBER
CONOR MCGREGOR (21-3-0)
PREVIOUS FIGHT: WIN KO/TKO (Round 2) vs Eddie Alvarez
STRENGTHS: Aggressive, counter punching, cuts his opponents space, strong left hand, strong straight left
McGregor is bigger than the UFC now. Unfortunately similar to Ronda Rousey he outgrew the sport but has to come back to it to stay relevant. In much the same way Conor tried boxing, Rousey moved across to WWE. They don’t need the money and they have the fame but they need to sustain it. A fighting legacy is much more fragile than other sports. LeBron James has lost plenty of times over his 1100+ game career but a fighter has a volatile window within which they can build their legacy.
This leaves the Irish fighter at a real crossroads, ‘what the f*** do they want?’ McGregor asked when promoting UFC 229. The answer is for less talk and more fighting.
KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV (26-0-0)
PREVIOUS FIGHT: WIN: Decision (5th round) vs Al Iaquinta
STRENGTHS: Wrestling, grappling, takedowns, conditioning,
The reigning UFC lightweight champion is a brutal wrestler and is not some bunny that the UFC have delivered to Conor for an easy win. Khabib is undefeated as a professional and the Wolf thinks that at this stage of his career will be a bigger threat when this fight inevitably goes to ground on Sunday.
To put into perspective just how tough Khabib is, during his fight with Michael Johnson in 2016 the Russian suggested that his opponent quit early…whilst he was punching him.
Punters need to separate the hype surrounding this fight from the reality. Khabib goes in as a heavy favourite at $1.60 and whilst the Wolf expects Conor to come in as the fight gets closer, most of that money will be from the casual spectator who figures that the Irishman must win because…well…Conor McGregor. This is a very even matchup and both fighters will be on their guard early to avoid an embarrassing upset.
This fight is the real deal. If Khabib wins he will have justified his title as one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history. He will have taken the crown from the self described ‘King’ of the sport who has left his kingdom for almost two years. If McGregor causes an upset he will wonder what all the fuss was about and step back into the UFC world without missing a beat…and taking down its’ current champion in the process.
The Wolf expects McGregor to be hyper vigilant with staying on his feet in the opening rounds. If Khabib gets him to the ground then he will be lucky to survive. The Irishman will try to get that left hand working but the closer he gets to his opponent, the greater the risk of him being grappled to the ground. The Wolf thinks this fight will go between 3-4 rounds before the Eagle takes control and wins.
BEST BETS: Total rounds over 2.5 ($2.05), Khabib Nurmagomedov by KO or Submission ($1.95)