In what will likely be a classic public versus sharp matchup from a betting perspective, former champion Conor McGregor (21-3) is expected to make his highly anticipated return to the Octagon on October 6 against current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) for his title in the main event at UFC 229.
McGregor has not fought for the promotion in nearly two years, and he is listed as a small +140 underdog (bet $100 to win $140) on the UFC 229 odds versus the undefeated Nurmagomedov in a battle of MMA's best 155-pounders.
Nurmagomedov is a -170 favorite (bet $170 to win $100) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark and won the championship belt vacated by McGregor due to inactivity when he defeated Al Iaquinta as huge chalk at UFC 223 on April 7.
Iaquinta stepped in on short notice for injured interim champ Tony Ferguson, who suffered a knee injury leading up to the bout, and featherweight champ Max Holloway after he had agreed to take on Nurmagomedov in an effort to win belts in two different divisions like McGregor.
Meanwhile, McGregor was busy preparing to fight welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the boxing ring a year ago and then hoped to return to action in MMA earlier this year before he was involved in a bus incident during UFC 223 Media Day that set those plans back.
Fortunately for McGregor, he was not sentenced to jail time for his role in the incident and instead pleaded no contest to a count of disorderly conduct. That decision set the stage for him to take on Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title.
The style of both fighters sets up for an intriguing championship bout, as McGregor has a strong boxing background, and Nurmagomedov is known primarily for combat sambo and wrestling. McGregor may have a slight edge on the feet, with Nurmagomedov owning a size advantage and much stronger than his opponent on the ground. It is worth noting that all three of McGregor's career MMA losses have come via submission.
The betting public is expected to back the popular McGregor as an underdog much like they did when he took on Mayweather in his last fight. But sharps who follow MMA closely will probably support Nurmagomedov more in his biggest bout to date.
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