There have been a lot of big fights in the UFC’s history but the battle on October 6 could be the biggest of them all. Superstar Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event at UFC 229 in one of the most highly anticipated bouts ever. McGregor is the sport’s seemingly untouchable star but now he’ll go up against a fighter who has been rarely pushed. Can McGregor regain his throne or will Nurmagomedov silence the outspoken icon? Let’s take a closer look at the story and the betting lines.
The Back Story
There are a number of threads to this fight that make this such an exciting bout. For starters, there’s McGregor. Any time he’s in the Octagon, it’s a big deal. That hasn’t happened much of late as he hasn’t fought since November 2016 when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez. Of course, there was the whole boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., some legal challenges and some contract demands that kept him away. Now he’s back and everyone wants to see him. Six of his last seven wins ended with him knocking out his opponent, so he normally makes things very entertaining.
On the flip side is Nurmagomedov. He’s soft-spoken and quiet, but as dominant as ever. He’s 26-0 and he’s hardly faced any adversity, which is incredible. He’s as good an opponent as McGregor has faced, and vice versa.
Amping things up a little is that McGregor went after Nurmagomedov as he – and other fighters – were sitting in a bus at UFC 223. McGregor threw a dolly through a window as he was trying to get after Nurmagomedov. The issue stems from a feud that Nurmagomedov had with Artem Lobov earlier in the week. Lobov is a friend and training partner of McGregor, so that situation has added fuel to the fire.
The Betting Lines
McGregor was as dominant a UFC fighter as we had seen prior to his departure for boxing but in this bout, he finds himself as an underdog. Nurmagomedov is a -185 favorite while McGregor comes in at +150.
The story of this bout will be whether McGregor can catch him. McGregor’s fast, he has unorthodox stances and he has the power to knock out Nurmagomedov with one punch. He’s also much smarter than he’s given credit for. He knows that Nurmagomedov is going to come forward at all costs, so if his plan is to move around the Octagon and wait for an opening, that would be a smart one.
We know that Nurmagomedov always comes forward, walking through whatever damage necessary so that he can get his fighter up against the cage and eventually down on the ground. Now if Nurmagomedov can weather the shots and takes down McGregor, he’ll be in the driver’s seat. McGregor has struggled on his back against Chad Mendes and Nate Diaz, and that’s nothing compared to the hurt that he’ll face if he’s on the ground against Nurmagomedov. If that happens, McGregor is likely to lose and lose badly.
So can Conor connect? His knockouts are the most exciting moment in the UFC and that’s what everyone will be tuning in to see at UFC 229.