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2018 UFC 229: McGregor vs. Khabib Analysis & Insights

McGregor vs. Khabib

In one of the most intriguing fights of the modern UFC era, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor will step in the cage to determine who is the better warrior. The UFC betting lines have Nurmagomedov as the favorite to win the fight; but, leading up the bout, it’s been the Irishman who won the first round. Let’s jump ahead to the McGregor vs. Khabib at UFC 229.

2018 UFC 229: McGregor vs. Khabib

  • Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
  • When: Sat, Oct 6, 8:00 PM
  • UFC 229 Betting Lines: NURMAGOMEDOV -165 vs. MCGREGOR +135
  • Total: Over o2½ EV vs. Under u2½ -130

Why Bet on Khabib Nurmagomedov?

Though it might not surprise you, the Russian is the current lightweight champion. He’s earned this title, deservedly so mounting an unbeaten record that cannot be denied (his 26-fight win streak is the longest current run in the UFC). The Eagle, who now trains in the American Boxing Academy, grew up in the Russian fighting trenches. If there’s someone who can claim to be a born and raised fighter, it’s Khabib Nurmagomedov. From the early age of 6 years old, the Russian grew up fighting and still trains like a beast.

Nurmagomedov is arguably the best grappler in the sport. There are few, if any, other fighters who can beat Khabib’s ground game. Even against professional fighters, he’s a notch above the next man and he’s set the UFC record for single takedowns in a fight by taking down Abel Trujillo down 21 times at UFC 160.

The question is, what strategy will Nurmagomedov have to defeat McGregor? The Russian is heads-above McGregor is wrestling abilities. But, can he stand in the ring with the Irishman? According to coach Javier Mendez, Khabib is willing to go head-to-head against Connor, claiming “The Eagle is not afraid to engage with McGregor on the feet”.

But, with McGregor being such a great striker it’s hard to say when the battle starts whether Nurmagomedov will change his tactics to win the fight. Should Khabib’s improved standup get him into trouble, it’s possible his team will focus on what’s worked for Khabib in the past.

Nurmagomedov has also kept himself healthy, not suffering an injury since 2015. McGregor is the exact same fight he’s been looking for and that has eluded him. Now, he’s finally got his chance to prove himself and has gotten what he wants. Let’s not forget also that Khabib has also remained actively fighting; though McGregor is a one-of-a-kind fighter, he’s not had a UFC fight in two years. Will he be rusty? We’ll find out once both fighters are in the cage.

Why Bet on Connor McGregor?

If there’s something Connor McGregor is not, is afraid. He’s not shy in declaring himself the greatest fighter, a man who is heads above his opponent. And, from what we’ve seen of him in fights, most people agree nobody can take that left hand. Whether it’s a straight left or a left-cross, his ability to destroy opponents with it is deadly effective.

But if McGregor is to step in the ring and win this fight, he’s well aware it could go to the floor where he’ll be fighting probably the best wrestler in the history of the UFC. Though Connor has learned much and probably has improved his ground game, it’s probable he’ll avoid going to the mat and fend off takedowns to control the bout.

Connor McGregor has an additional edge even if he’s considered to be the underdog to win the fight. He has the mental edge in the days leading up to the event. McGregor has mastered the art of getting into his opponent’s head and he may have already gotten into Nurmagomedov’s if you watched their face off.

McGregor is also unpredictable, a fighter who is notoriously hard to figure out and exploits your weaknesses with an almost uncanny ability. The question is, will his unorthodox style be enough to defeat Nurmagomedov’s tried and tested fighting style? It’s going to be an epic battle, perhaps, one that will be hard to match in many years to come.

Fight Prediction: In my opinion, McGregor has won in the days leading up the fight. The face-off clearly showed a more subdued Nurmagomedov completely unlike the previous face-offs against other opponents. While this doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it gives Connor a psychological win, to get Khabib mad. As for who will win the fight, nobody will know until October 6.

UFC 229 Sat, Oct 6 Main Fight Card

  • Lightweight·Co-main: Tony Ferguson 23-3-0 vs. Anthony Pettis 21-7-0
  • Light Heavyweight: Ovince Saint Preux 23-11-0 vs. Dominick Reyes 9-0-0
  • Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis 20-5-0, 1NC vs. Alexander Volkov 30-6-0 
 
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