For the first time since November 2016, Conor McGregor will step back inside a UFC Octagon when he clashes with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October. The stakes couldn’t be higher with the news that McGregor could decide to walk away from MMA altogether if he loses in his long-awaited return.
Meanwhile, McGregor will undoubtedly represent the toughest test of Nurmagomedov’s career as he looks to elevate his stock to another level with what would be the biggest victory of his career.
Here is a closer look at the Nurmagomedov versus McGregor matchup for UFC 229 and what MMA betting fans should be considering.
It will be nearly two years since his last UFC fight when McGregor faces Nurmagomedov at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 7. McGregor was busy preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in one of the most ridiculous sporting spectacles of this generation last year.
His return to the UFC was put on hold when he was arrested for disorderly conduct following an incident at Media Day for UFC 223 in which he threw a dolly at Nurmagomedov, who was sitting in a bus. That incident set the stage for his eventual return against Nurmagomedov.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov is coming off a unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in which he improved to 26-0 all-time. The fact that he hasn’t lost once in a career that spans back to 2008 speaks volumes – especially considering he is undefeated in 10 straight UFC bouts.
It’s hard to even pinpoint a time when he had to face adversity. However, for as impressive as Nurmagomedov’s resume is, he has never fought an opponent as talented as McGregor (21-3).
Nurmagomedov is listed as the sports betting favorite at -175 odds with William Hill, while McGregor is posted as a +138 underdog. There is no doubt that the betting public is expected to back McGregor, but the sharps that follow the UFC closely will be expected to put their money behind Nurmagomedov for this bout.
The fact that both fighters are so aggressive adds even more intrigue to this star matchup, with the potential for fireworks early and often. McGregor has a strong boxing background and has showcased his incredible power with 18 of his 21 career wins coming via knockout.
McGregor might have the slight edge when the two fighters are standing up. However, it’s important to take in to account the potential negative side effects that could be the result of McGregor taking so much time off.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov is known for his combat sambo and wrestling ability that will undoubtedly give him the edge if this fight goes to the ground. It will be a quick and very painful result if McGregor spends any time on his back.
Nurmagomedov should also have a slight size advantage that could be one of the biggest keys to this fight. It’s worth noting that all three of McGregor’s MMA losses came via submission, which won’t be lost on Nurmagomedov’s crew as they prepare for this contest.
The fight between Nurmagomedov and McGregor alone will make UFC 229 the promotion’s biggest fight card by far. However, the UFC has gone all-in trying to build a can’t-miss fight card around the spectacular main event to make sure that UFC 229 is truly unforgettable.
Derrick Lewis is coming off a unanimous decision win over Francis Ngannou at UFC 226. Now he is set to face Alexander Volkov in a fight that will be billed as the co-main event for UFC 229. Volkov called out Lewis with a challenge as the next fighter he wants to face in the UFC.
After six straight wins, including most recently a knockout victory over former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, Volkov could move one step closer to earning a title opportunity with a win over Lewis.
Meanwhile, Sergio Pettis will attempt to prove he deserves to be the next in line for a UFC flyweight championship opportunity with a win over Jussier Formiga at UFC 229. Pettis is the fourth-ranked fighter in the UFC flyweight division.
After bouncing back from a tough loss to Henry Cejudo, Pettis rebounded with a split-decision win over Joseph Benavidez to get his title pursuit back on track. However, his next matchup will be extremely difficult as he matches up with the Brazilian Formiga.
Formiga is coming off back-to-back submission wins over Ulka Sasaki and Ben Nguyen and is a worthy opponent for Pettis.
The main card for UFC 229 will also include a light heavyweight bout between Ovince Saint Preux and Dominick Reyes, a welterweight bout between Ryan LaFlare and Tony Martin and a pair of women’s bouts -- Lina Lansberg vs. Yana Kunitskaya in the bantamweight division and Michelle Waterson vs. Felice Herrig in the strawweight division.
With the potential to go down as the biggest event in the promotion’s history, UFC 229 promises to deliver fireworks culminating with one of its most highly anticipated finales.