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McGregor vs Nurmagomedov: Picks and Predictions

Don Aguero

by Don Aguero in Mixed Martial Arts

Aug 3, 2018 · 12:44 PM PDT

Conor McGregor is ready to return to the UFC. Can he reclaim the lightweight strap?
Conor McGregor is ready to return to the UFC. Can he reclaim the lightweight strap? Photo by Andrius Petrucenia (Flickr) [CC License]
  • Conor McGregor is eyeing a comeback to MMA after a brief foray into boxing
  • Will Dana White be able to deliver McGregor vs Nurmagomedov?
  • Does McGregor truly deserve a title shot? 

UPDATE (August 3, 2018): The UFC announced this afternoon that Conor McGregor will make his long awaited return to MMA against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. The event is scheduled to take place on October 6th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


The UFC are inches away from signing what should be the biggest fight in the promotion’s history. Conor McGregor, the former lightweight and featherweight champ, is eyeing a comeback to MMA after an extremely lucrative foray into boxing. He hopes to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, the current lightweight champion.

UFC boss Dana White has a “special” press conference planned on Saturday, August 4th, to celebrate the organisation’s 25th season. He’s set to announce a few big ticket fights in the near-future. Hopefully, this will be one of them.

Odds Nurmagomedov vs McGregor Takes Place in 2018

Prop Odds
Odds Nurmagomedov vs McGregor takes place in 2018 -180

McGregor is hinting at a fight in Vegas. That leaves the UFC with two options: UFC 229 in early October, or a New Year’s Eve showdown at UFC 232. Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t believe McGregor deserves a title shot, but will accept the fight if he’s adequately compensated. If he’s not paid what he’s worth, he’s willing to fight Dustin Poirier instead.

This fight that should break the current UFC PPV record, which is currently held by Diaz vs McGregor 2, but it’s also going to cost the UFC a fortune. McGregor is rumored to have made $100 million during his excursion into boxing, and Nurmagomedov seems genuinely prepared to walk if he’s low-balled. If the UFC wants to make this money fight, they’ll have to split the spoils with the fighters.

McGregor is rumored to have made $100 million during his excursion into boxing, and Nurmagomedov seems genuinely prepared to walk if he’s low-balled.

This is the fight to make for the UFC. After a two-year hiatus, the most profitable star MMA has ever seen is ready to return. He’ll face an undefeated champ who has demolished some of the biggest names in the lightweight division. The UFC won’t even need to pay for marketing. McGregor already took care of that when he crashed a presser in April and threw a dolly through a bus that was transporting Khabib.

The UFC would be stupid to let this go.

Nurmagomedov vs McGregor Fight Odds

Fighter Odds
Khabib Nurmagomedov -205
Conor McGregor +165

It’s an amazing clash of styles.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) and Conor McGregor (21-3) both know exactly what they want from this fight. Khabib will seek to do what he always does: smother his opponent and grind them to a pulp. Conor will hope to keep the fight upright and utilize his superior striking.

Nurmagomedov is known to fight with his chin held high and is constantly applying pressure. It’s a style that has served him well throughout his career, but he has never met a striker as precise as Conor. All it would take is one sharp left hand as Khabib shoots for a takedown, and it’ll all be over.

Conversely, McGregor is completely out of his element when taken to the ground. His three professional losses have all been by way of submission.

Conversely, McGregor is completely out of his element when taken to the ground. His three professional losses have all been by way of submission, and we’ve seen him struggle against grapplers before. Nate Diaz easily tapped him out as soon as McGregor allowed the fight to go to ground, and Chad Mendes gave him a few nervous moments with his wrestling.

McGregor boasts an extremely impressive UFC record, but it’s an unavoidable truth that the matchmaking has often been in his favor. His greatest wins have been against fellow strikers, guys who would stand and bang with the rangey southpaw. That’s when McGregor shines.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is an entirely different animal. He demonstrated some savvy striking during his one-sided title fight against Al Iaquinta, but it’s his grappling that has gotten him to where he is. When he seizes top control, there’s no one at 155 lbs that stands a chance.

Khabib Nurmagomedov
VS
Conor McGregor
26-0 RECORD 21-3
10-0 UFC RECORD 9-1
5 ft 10 in HEIGHT 5 ft 9 in
70 in REACH 74 in
.Orthodox STANCE Southpaw
29 AGE 30
April 7, 2018 LAST MMA FIGHT 12 November, 2016

Then there’s McGregor’s two-year layoff from the octagon. There were a few moments after the Mayweather fight when it seemed Notorious was swirling out of control, and even Dana White had his doubts about whether his star would ever return. Becoming $100 million richer over the course of a single night has to change you in some way, and not necessarily for the better.

Unless McGregor lands an early knockout, there’s no way he’ll be able to stuff every takedown attempt from Khabib. We know that McGregor tends to fade in the later rounds, and Khabib’s relentless pressure could cause him to crack. Especially if he’s close to gassed, I can’t picture Conor overcoming Khabib’s ground-and-pound.

In many ways, McGregor is still unproven at lightweight. He completely dominated Eddie Alvarez to win the title in his 155 lb debut, but that’s it. Khabib is active, focused, and has a proven track record at lightweight.

Pick: Khabib Nurmagomedov (-205)

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