It’s just a few weeks away before the UFC’s biggest superstar, Conor McGregor returns to reclaim the lightweight title from the unstoppable Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor is returning from a near two-year hiatus from the octagon while Nurmagomedov has been steamrolling every fighter in his path.
In this classic grappler versus striker matchup, there are many ways the fight plays out. But here are the three most likely scenarios:
Nurmagomedov Submits McGregor in the Second or Third Round
This is the most likely scenario and sportsbooks support it. Nurmagomedov to win by submission is 2/1, his most probable method of victory. The wrestling juggernaut will quickly take McGregor to the ground like Chad Mendes, a much smaller fighter, did.
While size isn’t everything when it comes to grappling, Nurmagomedov is also the most skilled wrestler McGregor will have faced. Nurmagomedov has notoriously wrestled against bears and ate other wrestlers for breakfast.
Combine this fact with grappling being McGregor’s Achilles heel and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that when Nurmagomedov gets McGregor to the mat, the fight is all but over.
Since McGregor’s early years as a fighter, he’s been susceptible to submissions. All three of his professional losses have come via submission. Many fighters have accused him of being a “quitter”.
When Nurmagomedov takes McGregor down, he’ll rain heavy ground-and-pound and force McGregor to give up his back, where he’ll sink in the rear-naked choke.
McGregor Knocks Out Nurmagomedov in the First or Second Round
This isn’t just every McGregor stans’ dream, this is the most likely way he wins. Bookies have McGregor knocking out Nurmagomedov at 3/2, just a slight difference from him winning straight-up.
McGregor finishes most of his fights in the first two rounds because that’s the only way he knows how. He isn’t there to outpoint or break someone down piece-by-piece, he’s there to finish them.
The former champion is most dangerous in the first two rounds since that’s when he’ll have most of his stamina. Nurmagomedov will sap most of his energy by forcing him to defend takedowns and survive on the mat. It all depends how long McGregor can stay on his feet.
McGregor has a huge advantage on their feet. He is faster, has better movement, and has more punching power. Outside of being a showman, McGregor is also a mastermind. He has already analyzed Nurmagomedov’s tendencies.
“Timing beats speed”, as he said. McGregor will time Nurmagomedov and put him out the moment he recklessly closes the distance.
Nurmagomedov Defeats McGregor by Unanimous Decision
An unlikely scenario and books have the fight making it to the scorecards at 3/1. But it’s still plausible, especially with how tough both fighters are.
If the fight makes it anywhere out of the first two rounds, it’s almost a 50/50 shot that both fighters will make it to a decision.
McGregor will have a hard time finding that killshot as Nurmagomedov won’t give him that opportunity by constantly sticking to him like a used bubble gum to a shoe. Nurmagomedov will clinch McGregor, push him up against the fence, and grind him down until McGregor has no more energy left.
However, Nurmagomedov may also play it safe if he has McGregor on the mat. Instead of going for the finish, he could just keep him down and beat him up like he did against Edson Barboza. The result could be a lopsided decision for Nurmagomedov. That would pay 4/1 if it does happen.