In terms of UFC battle royales, there are few competitions which will parallel the upcoming fight; Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov. UFC 229 could certainly prove to be the most memorable matches in recent memory and if the McGregor-Mayweather bout can be used as any benchmark, we should very well expect the unexpected. Still, bookmakers are already heating up in terms of wagers and fans from all walks of life are hoping to determine the outcome. What should we expect to witness on 7 October? Let’s take a look at a tale of the tape before moving on.
Conor McGregor: Heavy Hands and Impressive Endurance
There are several reasons why McGregor is near-celebrity status at the moment. This is due in large part to his mouth. However, we never forget that the man can back up any trash talking that may be heard. It is also important to mention that a record of 21-3-0 is impressive within today’s UFC environment.
Still, let’s keep in mind that McGregor is most likely hoping to avoid the ground-and-pound game at all costs. Mystic Mac should perform well if he maintains a toe-to-toe stance with Khabib, but this is where the speculation begins. It is a well-known fact that Conor is not nearly as effective on the ground when compared to many of his contemporaries and while he is currently rated as the number-two UFC competitor pound from pound, all bets are off it goes to the canvas.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: The Bear with a Proven Track Record
We have to imagine that McGregor is not taking the 26-0-0 history of Nurmagomedov lightly. This beast from the east currently holds the longest undefeated MMA streak in history and a considerable portion of his wins came from either submissions or decisions. What does this signify? First and foremost, the man has the strength to go the distance. Secondly, he is likely to attempt to bring McGregor to the ground in order to obtain an easy victory; it is not likely that he will want to get into a blow-for-blow match with McGregor. Having said this, seven of his wins have resulted from TKOs or straight knockouts. Let’s also not forget to mention that Nurmagomedov has a significant weight advantage over McGregor.
McGregor vs Khabib – A Mauling or a Fight for the Books?
While Nurmagomedov might prefer to embrace his Judo and Sambo roots, it is important to recognise that the man is no stranger to taking a shot or two. This was clearly seen in his match with Michael Johnson. As he has smothered fighters with a better takedown offence than McGregor, he could very well take the match.
Still, every expert appreciates the fact that Conor McGregor is a force to be reckoned with. The man is proof that size matters little when skill and confidence abound. His deceptively quick hands combined with an innate ability to get under the skin of opponents will present a formidable challenge for Nurmagomedov. In this respect, experience and keeping a clear head under pressure could very well determine the outcome of the fight. If the Russian drops his hands for a fraction of a second, expect McGregor to drop him like a bad habit.
McGregor vs Khabib – No Middle Road
Most analysts agree that the chances of the fight going the distance in the octagon are slim at best. McGregor will avoid the ground tactics associated with Nurmagomedov (Sambo, Judo and wrestling) while there is no doubt that Nurmagomedov will be wary of the quick fists and excellent defensive tactics that have come to define McGregor. This essentially signifies that the fight is likely to have only two outcomes. Either McGregor feeds Nurmagomedov one of his trademarks headshots or Nurmagomedov drops the 70-kilogram McGregor to the mat early. In either of these scenarios, each fighter will essentially be out of his element.
The Issue of Desire Versus Time Off
One of the most glaring issues associated with this match is the simple fact that McGregor has not been involved with a UFC match in nearly two years. Many analysts expected him to come back with at least a mid-level “refresher” bout before taking on a Russian bear. However, he is entering directly into the fray. This is indeed a testament to the confidence of the man as well as his belief that experience trumps desire alone. Still, have recent distractions (such as the bus attack earlier in the year) affected his ability to properly focus on the upcoming match? This is an important question when we consider that Nurmagomedov has had no such distractions. UFC fighting is a full-time profession, particularly at the top tier. Will McGregor’s recent “extracurricular” activities have any impact upon the result? What do the analysts have to say?
McGregor vs Khabib General Win Predictions
At the time that this article was written, the odds were slightly tipped in favour of Nurmagomedov; 52% feel that he will walk away as the victor. It is also critical to mention that the average fight time associated with Nurmagomedov is 13:31. This is in direct comparison to McGregor’s 8:08. We will obviously be looking for McGregor to take the win early on, but all bets are off if the fight goes to the ground.
What do the Major Bookmakers Have to Say?
Now that we have taken a look at the general consensus, let’s break down predictions by some of the largest bookmakers for the McGregor vs Khabib bout.
Khabib Nurmagomedov to win:
William Hill: 8/13*
Conor McGregor to win:
William Hill: 13/10*
Time Will Tell
The good news is that we do not have long to wait before the much-anticipated McGregor vs Khabib bout unfolds. Will McGregor make his big UFC comeback or will Nurmagomedov steal the crown and the glory? Be sure to keep up to date with the latest predictions in order to stay one step ahead of the curve.
*Remember all odds are subject to change at any time. Please see the bookmaker for the most recent odds.
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