If you’ve been following along with my blog series leading up to this super fight, you know I’ve been a little close to the vest about who my pick to win the fight was. Well, okay, I did everything but come right out and say it, but today I’m going to spill the beans and also tell you why I feel the way I do.
First, let’s take a look at the odds currently at SportsBetting.ag for either of these men to win the fight. Remember, making money betting sports is all about finding value, not just picking winners. So, even if we think that someone is going to win, we need to make sure the associated payouts are worth it. If we’re not getting paid out the proper amount for the risk we’re taking, we’re going to lose money in the long run. I’ll give you a spoiler that I like the current line on the fighter I’ve picked to win, but I think with some timing you can actually get a better line.
UFC 229 – Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov to-win
- McGregor (+145)
- Nurmagomedov (-165)
My Pick to Win this Fight
Let’s start with the bottom line up front. I think Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to win this fight. While I love Conor as a fighter and think he’s an absolute beast, I think Khabib (I’m going to call him by his first name not because we are friends, but because my brain explodes every time I have to try and spell his last name properly) is going to pick him apart and win this fight.
Most people that think McGregor is going to win this fight think he’s going to get it done with his hands. He has that powerful left hand that Jose Aldo met 13 seconds into their fight that has a tendency to end fights fast. The thing is this, though. If you look at McGregor’s fights and when he has hurt people with the left hand, it’s mainly been with shorter fighters or when he’s punching down. He gets the most power on his shots when he’s able to bring them from above.
Khabib is only an inch taller than Conor, but I think this is going to make a difference. Conor will be sending his shots slightly upward which I think is going to take some of the power out of them. Basically, I think he’s going to be able to hit Khabib, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to hurt him. The only way I see McGregor winning this fight is if he is able to hurt Khabib early. If not, I think Khabib systematically works his game and wins this fight.
Additionally, Conor’s cardio hasn’t always been the best. If he’s not able to slow down Khabib early, he may be running up against the gas tank if this fight gets into the Championship rounds. Yes, it’s possible that Conor has been working on the cardio, but you’d think we’d have seen signs of that earlier in his career with as dedicated as he is to the sport.
Speaking of “seeing signs of anything,” Conor hasn’t been in the Octagon in two years. He did have a boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. about a year back, but that’s it for combat sports. A lot of people are talking about ring rust which I usually pay attention to, but I’ve had my butt handed to me in the past when I weighed it too heavily on the greats. I’m looking at you GSP.
What I am more concerned with here are the distractions. How much groundwork or wrestling was McGregor doing when he was training for a 50-million-dollar boxing fight with arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time? If I were him, I wouldn’t be doing anything but boxing my face off every single day in the gym. It’s hard to know exactly what he was doing, but I would venture to guess that not much more than boxing was going on during that year after his last UFC fight and his boxing fight.
This is also the part of his game that’s always been questionable. I think Khabib is going to briefly stand with him and then look to smother him up against the cage and get the fight to the ground. I don’t think Conor is going to be able to hurt him and I think he’s going to run into some gas tank problems as Khabib continues to pour on the pressure.
I’m not sold yet on whether I think Khabib can finish him or if it’s going to go to a decision, but I would probably lean towards a decision. We’ll talk a deeper look at that in an upcoming blog on prop bets and other wagers you can make on UFC 229.
Wait for the Right Time to Bet This Fight
As I’ve already mentioned, sports betting (and winning) is all about making sure you’re getting the right payout and value on the bets you are making. Picking winners are great, but simply having a winning sports betting record will not ensure that you’re profitable. For this fight, the odds are currently at (-165) for Khabib to win. This means you’re not going to get paid out even money if Khabib wins because he is the odds-on favorite. A $100 wager will net you a little over $60 in profit.
While I think this is worth it for this fight, I think you can get a better payout if you decide to wait to bet. You see, the UFC betting sites always want to have the right amount of money on both sides of a fight to ensure that they make a profit no matter what. They take the money from the loser, use it to pay out the winners, and scrape a little percentage off the top as their profit. Basically, no matter who wins the fight, they come out a winner.
To do this, they adjust the payouts to encourage or discourage the action they need on each side of the fight. If a ton of bets come in on Khabib, they’re going to have to try and discourage more bets on him and encourage more bets on Conor. They’ll accomplish this by shifting the lines where you’ll get paid worse for a correct Khabib bet and more for a correct Conor bet. This will make people less likely to bet on Khabib, more likely to bet on Conor, and hopefully level things out for the sportsbook.
Why do you care about this? Glad you asked. If you can predict how the betting for a fight is going to go, you stand a chance to time your bet and get a better payout for the exact same bet. Let me tell you what I think is going to happen, and this will all make much more sense.
The public loves Conor McGregor. Let me rephrase. The public LOVES Conor McGregor. The public loves to bet on their favorite regardless of whether or not the odds are great or if they actually think they’re going to win. Even if deep down they think they are going to lose, they will convince themselves otherwise because it feels better.
Additionally, most MMA fans aren’t that smart when it comes to the sport and tend still to bet based on name notoriety. In the early days of the UFC, you could make a killing betting underdogs who were better fighters against big names. The public would slam the big name, and the sportsbook would react by giving you incredible payouts on the “no-name” fighter.
I think the public is going to hammer Conor McGregor on this fight. Recreational bettors are going to come out of the woodwork everywhere, and they’re going to bet on the name they know. All they are going to remember is Conor knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. When this happens, I think the odds will shift, and the payout for a correct Khabib wager will get better and better. If you can wait for this to happen, you’ll lock up much more value.
But, how do we know when this is going to happen? Why hasn’t the public made their bets already? Well, how many of your casual betting friends who will probably bet this fight have made their bets already? Probably none of them. Even you, the serious bettor, are still doing your homework to make your pick.
The public is notorious for waiting until the last minute to bet on anything. They love to bet late, and they love to bet on the favorite. So, I anticipate that on the day of the fight you’re going to see a lot of money come in on McGregor from the casual fans out there. I do think that there will be some big money bet on Khabib late as well from sharps, but I think they’re going to be waiting for the same thing we are.
This means the perfect time is going to be leading up to the fight on fight day. As soon as you see the line move a little, jump on it before the sharps come in and hammer it back the other way. The good news is that I like Khabib at any of the lines out there so if you don’t happen to catch any extra value it’s okay. You’re still going to be on the right side of the bet. If you don’t want to babysit the line, you can certainly scoop it up at (-165) now, and you’ll be good to go. I don’t foresee a lot of line movement, but I’m a big fan of taking every little inch of value you can pick up.
Wrapping It All Up
Here’s the quick wrap up. I like Khabib in this fight. I don’t think Conor is going to be able to hurt him, and I think Khabib is going to pick Conor apart. I’m happy with (-165), but if you want to wait until close to fight time you might be able to get a slightly better line.