Online sportsbooks have placed Conor McGregor as the underdog in his UFC 229 fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Here are ways McGregor can beat the odds.
Irish MMA superstar Conor McGregor is clearly the underdog in the upcoming UFC 229 main event on October 6.
The former two-division UFC champion has fought only one professional combat sports match in almost two years, and that was a boxing fight.
This is a stark contrast from his opponent, Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, who fought in eight rounds and became the UFC Lightweight champion in the process.
Who ya got?
— UFC (@ufc) October 2, 2018
That disparity is one of the reasons why sportsbooks favored the current champion over the challenger. For instance, bet365 offers the odds of 1.60 for a Khabib win.
However, there is still the possibility of a McGregor victory. Even though the 2.60 odds given by bet365 are against him, there are four ways McGregor could claim the Lightweight belt once again. These are:
1 | Psyching Khabib out Pre-Match
To the surprise of many, McGregor’s trash talking failed him at the UFC 229 press conference as a stoic Khabib managed to remain calm most of the time. That has impressed many, given McGregor went for Khabib’s political affiliation and ethnic origin.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) October 2, 2018
The scheduled weigh-in should be a perfect chance to distract Khabib’s mental game. While facing each other—with only inches separating both fighters—McGregor can throw some personal attacks once again. This might not work on the surface, but McGregor would not lose anything in trying. After all, bad-mouthing has become part of his brand.
2 | Striking Khabib Early with Punches
McGregor’s greatest skill in MMA would be boxing, so much so that most of his knockout victories came from just devastating punches.
— UFC (@ufc) October 2, 2018
Meanwhile, Khabib has shown weakness in his stand-up game. In a brief instant in his 2016 match, he appeared vulnerable to a flurry of punches. That particular moment earned him the reputation of having a glass chin.
The Irish should take advantage of this apparent weakness and look for a one-hit power punch to Khabib’s jaw.
3 | Avoiding a Khabib Takedown
As if a complete opposite of McGregor, Khabib’s strength lies within his wrestling skill. Khabib once took down his opponent 21 times in a match, a UFC record still unmatched after eight years.
As a boxer, McGregor would want to keep the fight on his feet. Even more so, the opponent is well decorated in grappling and hand-to-hand combat.
In a classic striker vs. grappler match-up will Khabib be able to get the takedown early? McGregor will be going for the quick knockout.
— TAB (@tabcomau) October 2, 2018
While McGregor himself has a respectable takedown defense, it would pose only little resistance to an elite wrestler like Khabib. With that in mind, McGregor should avoid being taken down at all costs and keep the game on his own terms.
4 | Lasting for Five Rounds
If Khabib could not be sent sleeping onto the canvas, McGregor’s most probable way to victory would be through points. That would require McGregor to fight for 25 minutes, which could be a problem for him.
Stamina has always been an issue for McGregor. In fact, during the latter part of his boxing fight against Mayweather, McGregor’s heavy breathing partly cost him the match. He even admitted later on that his underwhelming stamina failed him.
— Men's Health Mag (@MensHealthMag) August 31, 2017
— HuffPost Sports (@HuffPostSports) August 27, 2017
However, that was more than a year ago. MMA experts and analysts expected McGregor to train to cover up this weakness specifically.
The UFC 229 main event will pit McGregor against Nurmagomedov with the UFC Lightweight Championship. The most-awaited match will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 6, 2018.