From possibly seeing the inside of a jail cell, to stepping back inside the octagon, the last few weeks for Conor McGregor have been a whirlwind. Additionally, the last few weeks for the UFC have also been a whirlwind as their most popular star is set to fight for the first time in nearly two years. At the beginning of the month, UFC President Dana White announced that McGregor would return to take on the undefeated UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. And since that announcement, the entire sport of MMA has been turned upside down as “Notorious” is back.
The Man Himself
The Irish professional MMA fighter and boxer is a former Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight and lightweight champion. He’s also competed as welterweight in MMA, and light middleweight in boxing.
At UFC 194, he defeated José Aldo via knockout just 13 seconds into the first round, to win the UFC Featherweight Championship. This was the fastest victory in UFC title fight history. After he defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 for the UFC Lightweight Championship, McGregor became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in two weight divisions at the same time.
On November 26, 2016, McGregor was stripped of the title of Featherweight Championship due to his inactivity in the division.
In early 2017, McGregor spent a lot of time campaigning for a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Despite Mayweather having retired in 2015, and the fact that McGregor had never boxed professional, Mayweather finally agreed. According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, regardless of the outcome, Mayweather was guaranteed a purse of $100 million and McGregor was guaranteed $30 million. That match finally took place on August 26, 2017, and it ended in the 10th round with a victory for Mayweather by TKO.
On April 7, 2018, McGregor was stripped of the Lightweight Championship, again due to inactivity.
Overall, McGregor is the biggest PPV draw in MMA history. He’s headlined four out of the six highest-selling UFC PPV events.
About The Infamous Bus Attack
The 29-year-old MMA fighter known as “Notorious” was involved in a backstage melee following a press conference prior to UFC223, and video footage captured him throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters. Dana White said that McGregor, and an entourage of 20 “hoodlums” who flew in from Ireland, attacked the bus looking for retaliation against Khabib, who had been in an altercation with McGregor’s training partner and friend, Artem Lobov. In a statement, UFC said,
Fifty-two percent said the sentence was too light, 41 percent said it was just right, and seven percent said it was too harsh, if that’s even possible.
No Jail Equals Time to Fight
Once McGregor’s legal issues were cleared up, his contact talks with the UFC and a fight with Nurmagomedov moved rather quickly. The two men have disdain for each other and the UFC sees nothing, but PPV buys and sellouts. When the fight was announced, it lit up the entire sports world. In fact, major outlets like ESPN forgot that it was NFL preseason and late MLB-season as they jumped all over the return of McGregor and the massive fight.
In anticipation of McGregor’s return, UFC 229 tickets sold out within three minutes. Vegas got its big-time fight and the UFC got its sell out. Oh, and McGregor will get his money. But, who will get the win?
McGregor will attempt to take back the belt he lost in 2016. Since that time, he hasn’t stepped foot in the Octagon, but SBG Ireland’s James Gallagher said his time off has given him time to enhance his game. In an interview with MMAFighting.com, Gallagher said he has no doubt that McGregor will walk through Khabib:
“[Conor] looks better than ever. He’s got that fire back inside of him. When you’re on the top of the world like he’s been for so long, you need to chill out for a little bit to get that hunger back…While he’s been away, Khabib has been creating some hype and getting himself in a position to fight Conor. There are a lot of people who see Khabib as a serious threat, so I think that’s given Conor a push to step up and say, ‘Nah, mate, I’m the champ around here – you’re not on my level.’ I think Conor’s going to show Khabib who’s boss and put him back in his box.”
MMA fighters pick who will win UFC 229 main event
This upcoming fight has sparked debates among fans and fighters around the world. For starters, UFC legend GSP almost immediately weighed in on the fight. Not only did he give his opinion on who will win the fight, but GSP also stated that he wanted to take on the winner. He said that the odds are in Kabib’s favor to win.
In addition to GSP, Fabricio Werdum and Dustin Poirier both pick Nurmagomedov to win. Werdum, a former UFC heavyweight champ, was stated the following:
Poirier, who suffered a loss to McGregor roughly 4 years ago, stated that he believes Khabib will get the victory because of his wrestling and physicality. Another legend, Anderson Silva, likes both fighters, but he believes that Khabib is the best fighter today, according to Inquisitr:
“Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is a great fighter. I’m very impressed. Conor [McGregor] is a great fighter. Having a new generation of fighters, especially in the UFC … this is a huge company that’s worked for a long time to get the great fighters in the sport. I think Khabib is the best, here, in this moment.”
Even a rival promotion, Bellator, has fighters chiming in on this UFC 229 epic fight. Current bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell is going against his contemporaries and taking McGregor:
“My prediction is Conor McGregor’s going to win. That’s just me. I’m not really biased against Khabib. I know Khabib, he does his thing, he has like 900 takedowns. He’s nice, he’s legit. But I feel like Conor’s got an It factor that Khabib probably does not have.”
The Current Betting UFC 229 Landscape
The MMA betting landscape has erupted over the scheduled UFC 229 main event fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov. Sportsbooks are seeing lines move up and down, while bettors are pouring in from all over.
When I first detailed this announced fight, Conor opened at a +135 underdog and Khabib opened as a -155 underdog, according to BetOnline. Since then, the odds have moved in favor of Nurmagomedov as he’s now a -170 favorite and McGregor is now a +145 underdog. Furthermore, the Over/Under for total fight rounds is set at 2.5 with the Over being +105 and the Under being -135. I already detailed my thoughts on that UFC 229 Prop Bet.
With that in mind, there are still numerous prop bets out there that are worth taking a serious look at, if you are trying to maximize your UFC 229 wagers. I will continue to examine these prop bets as we get closer to the fight date.
As for now, one thing is clear, McGregor vs Nurmagomedov has drawn a lot of attention via the media, at the gate, on Social Media, and with sports bettors around the world.
Conor McGregor will challenge the UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on October 6th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.