What The Betting Markets Tell Us About Khabib Vs. McGregor

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On 6thOctober at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Conor McGregor will make his UFC return after a hiatus of almost two years. The Irishman, of course, has rarely been out of the headlines during that time, taking part in a much-derided boxing match with Floyd Mayweather and even getting himself arrested a few months ago for attacking a bus. But, love or loath McGregor, he has never let his fans down in the Octagon, nor has he shirked the big fights in UFC.

Indeed, one has to respect McGregor’s decision to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov, arguably the rising star of MMA. The Russian has a much-celebrated winning streak of 26 victories, but he has been particularly impressive over the last couple of years. Yes, some have been disparaging about his ‘padded’ record in the past. But as time has wore on, “the Eagle” has gained deserved respect from pundits and his peers. The fact that his star has risen during McGregor’s absence puts even more emphasis on Khabib’s record – it’s as if he carried the mantle while McGregor was away.

(Image via https://twitter.com/fmwilliams25)

Khabib backed to win by Canadian sportsbooks

It’s no surprise then, that sportsbooks are unanimous in putting Nurmagomedov as the favorite for the victory. Several, including Betway and Sportingbet, are coming in with odds of 8/13 (-162.50) on the Russian, with McGregor best-priced at about 13/10 (Bet365, 888sport). The markets have remained remarkably tight, although there is evidence that McGregor, who enjoys a huge fanbase, has been taking on the majority of the bets in recent weeks. It is also worth checking out the latest offers for UFC betting Canada sites, which includes free bet offers for the fight.

But, because this bout has such stature – arguably the biggest UFC fight of the year – there are lots of betting markets available, some that will tell us a lot more about how it will go down than the straight win markets. For example, the distance betting markets are fairly certain that there will be a stoppage. 888sport go as low as 1/5 for that to happen, with a pretty big 13/4 that it goes to a decision. That’s a lot of confidence when you take into consideration that Khabib has relied on decision in five of his last seven fights.

McGregor needs to keep his feet

The common consensus is that McGregor needs be aggressive early and use those powerful strikes to knockout Khabib, lest the Russian get him on the floor. For that reason, the sportsbooks haven’t gone too high on a McGregor win by stoppage (including disqualification), with 13/8 offered by Bet365. The same market for Khabib is 11/10. However, if you look at the method of stoppage, Khabib can be split at 3/1 for submission and 7/2 (William Hill) for KO/TKO. The same doesn’t apply to McGregor, because it’s highly unlikely the Irishman wins by submission (33/1 with some sportsbooks).

What does all this say about how the fight will go? Well, it suggests we get an early victory for Khabib, most likely by submission. Of course, that’s only what the betting markets are pointing out as the most likely outcome. If McGregor can keep his feet and use his powerful striking skills, we may be looking at a completely different outcome. It sure is a puzzle, but one that, nonetheless, points to an intriguing matchup at UFC 229.

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