Betting Markets Provide Clues to Khabib vs McGregor Puzzle

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Everyone, even those with just a casual interest in MMA, will now be aware that Conor McGregor is making his return to the Octagon to take on Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC on 6th October. Regardless of how you feel about McGregor, he knows how to create hype for a fight and, to be fair to the Irishman, he normally delivers on that hype on the night. UFC 229 was an immediate sell-out and the buy-rate is sure to be huge.

When this type of highly-anticipated super fight occurs, it is inevitably a big deal in the betting markets, with bookmakers forming a part of the hype themselves. Indeed, you will find a whole range of McGregor vs Khabib betting offers and promos, as bookies compete to attract customers to their sites. But, crucially, the betting odds can offer an indication of where the fight will be won and lost, by cutting through some of the bluster of the pundits and trash-talk of the competitors.

Khabib favoured by bookies

The most important question is, of course, who will win the fight? Khabib has been leading the betting in that area from the very moment the fight was announced. The best odds you will find on the Russian are in and around 4/6 (Betfair, Ladbrokes and others), for McGregor you are looking at 16/11 (Marathon Sports). It’s obviously a consensus from the bookmakers that Khabib will win, but it’s hardly a resounding vote of confidence – in betting terms, it’s almost a toss-up.

Those odds above are for the straight win market, regardless of how it comes about. Of course, when you are dealing with someone like McGregor, whose bouts end in stoppage 90% of the time, you want to be looking at a win by KO/TKO. That’s been given odds of 7/4 for several top bookmakers, in a market that also includes the prospect of Khabib being disqualified. It makes sense for punters (who favour McGregor) to back this, because there is little chance of the Irishman winning by submission (33/1) and it’s unlikely he will win by decision (12/1).

Khabib has three pathways to victory

For Khabib, the options are even more intriguing. He is obviously a superior grappler and has consequently been given odds of 3/1 (William Hill) for a submission victory. However, he is handy with his fists too, so the odds for a KO/TKO victory are just 7/2. Moreover, the odds for a Khabib win on decision sit around 4/1. That’s despite the fact the fight is overwhelming backed to finish early, with odds of 1/5 it features a stoppage.

What does all this tell us about the fight? Well, it suggests that, barring a huge shock, McGregor has only one likely path to victory – a knockout using his lethal striking ability. A win by submission or decision would be a huge surprise, certainly in betting terms. For Khabib, there are three pathways to victory, none of which would be seen as a surprise: a submission win, KO win or decision. While there are more likely ways of winning for Khabib, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is more likely to come out on top as a consequence. That’s what makes this fight on 6th October compelling, box-office viewing.