UFC 229 Lightweight Title Fight Preview – Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov

UFC 229 Lightweight Title Fight: Conor McGregor (+140) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (-170 ) 

BetDSI opened the odds with Conor McGregor as an underdog for a second straight fight in the combat sports arena. The polarizing Irishman was a massive underdog in his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather last summer, and now he’s an underdog in the Lightweight title fight versus Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in Las Vegas. The last time McGregor was an underdog in the octagon was UFC 194 when he closed as a +109 underdog against Jose Aldo (-111), but the fight was essentially a tossup.

UFC 229
UFC 229

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Nick Kalikas, of MMAOddsbreaker.com,  who sets odds for the MMA betting market, had this to say about the highly-anticipated UFC 229 matchup:

“This should be more of a classic wrestler versus striker matchup. Style-wise, it’s a nightmare for Conor. He needs to stay off his back, which will be tough to do. Nurmagomedov has been one of the most dominant wrestlers the UFC has ever seen and will look to utilize that exact game plan against the elite striking ability and punching power of McGregor. One of McGregor’s toughest career tests was the wrestling of Chad Mendes. Khabib will present that same threat — except he is bigger, stronger, has more stifling top control and significantly better conditioning. That being said, Nurmagomedov showed flaws in the stand-up against Michael Johnson so if McGregor is going to win, it’ll have to be during the brief moments both fighters are upright. From a betting perspective, this fight has the potential to produce a record handle for sportsbooks.”

Conor McGregor (+155) entered the UFC as a two-weight champion in the UK-based Cage Wars promotion and wasted no time in displaying why he was so dominant in the regional promotion. McGregor’s UFC debut came with a vicious KO of Marcus Brimage, and then a decision win over current featherweight champ Max Holloway. Those fights were followed by five straight KO’s, including his interim title win over Chad Mendes and his 14-second destruction of the legend Jose Aldo Jr. — making McGregor the undisputed UFC featherweight champion.

At UFC196, McGregor was slated to take on Rafael Dos Anjos for the UFC Lightweight championship in a bid to become the first concurrent two-division champion in UFC, but that dream would have to wait.  Two weeks before their fight Dos Anjos got injured and Nate Diaz stepped in to take on McGregor on short notice. This would be the start of one of the best rivalries the UFC has produced since Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock. After plenty of smack talk on the press tour, Nate Diaz backed it up, finishing McGregor via a rear naked choke in the second round. Five months later, Diaz and McGregor would meet again, this time in a five round war with McGregor edging out a close decision over Diaz.

The win over Diaz put McGregor back on track and opened the door for his fight with the newly-crowned lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. McGregor would go on to dismantle Alvarez in a striking clinic that saw McGregor KO Alvarez shortly after the start of the second round to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold belts simultaneously in two weight classes.

This would also be the last time we saw McGregor in the octagon as he would attempt to cross over to boxing and take on the best defensive Boxer of all time Floyd “Money” Mayweather. In one of the biggest fights in combat sports history, McGregor would ultimately be stopped in the 10th round by the 40-year-old Mayweather. Now, McGregor is back in the UFC and looking to continue his historic run and regain his Lightweight Title with his sites on “The Eagle.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov (-185) has been one of the most dominant fighters UFC fans have ever seen. A Sambo world champion from Dagistan with a strong will and even stronger top game, Nurmagomedov has put on some of the most dominant performances ever seen inside the octagon. In 10 fights Khabib has picked up wins over Kamal Shalarus, Gleison Tibau, Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo, Micheal Johnson, Edson Barbosa and former lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos, as well as KOs over Thiago Tavares and Darrel Horcher. We last saw Khabib in the octagon back in April as he became the Lightweight Champion with a decision win over Al Iaquinta, who stepped in on short notice for the injured Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson.

Pick and Prediction

UFC 229 is a fight I see going much like McGregor ‘s fights with Eddie Alvarez and Chad Mendes. Yes, Nurmagomedov is a far better grappler than McGregor, but to use that grappling Khabib must get within striking range and that’s a very dangerous place to be with McGregor, especially since Nurmagomedov has gaping holes in his stand up. He throws punches from his hip and leaves his chin in the air when he leans back — flaws McGregor will easily exploit.  Johnson was able to stagger Nurmagomedov with a right hand and Johnson’s power and standup are not even close to those of McGregor. I think we’ll see McGregor KO Nurmagomedov with a straight left early in the first round of the UFC 229 main card fight.

About Joe Tussing

Joe Tussing is a former professoional MMA fighter and current trainer with more than 20 years experience in combat sports. Tussing is a writer, reporter and MMA personality living in Las Vegas.

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