After the, frankly, crazy incident back in April that saw Conor McGregor arrested for attacking a bus containing fellow UFC fighters, ESPN ran an article citing the downfall of Conor McGregor. It’s hard to argue with some of the thoughts in the piece, by Mark Kriegel, especially when he points out the shame that two fighters, Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg, were subsequently unable to compete because of facial lacerations caused by broken glass.
McGregor, of course, is a provocateur, one of the best at getting people talking about a fight, or, more accurately, getting people to talk about Conor McGregor. But, aside from everything else, that aspect takes away from something very important. Namely, that McGregor is one of the best to have ever stepped foot inside the Octagon.
McGregor not afraid to take a risk
Indeed, one of the most overlooked qualities of the Irishman is the fact that he is not afraid to take a risk. Going up weights to tackle bigger, stronger fighters, and, yes, even taking on one of the most brilliant boxers of all time, point to a man who does not fear being beaten. In a similar, vein we get the fight next month at UFC 229 that some argue the sport needs – Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship.
This fight has summed up why McGregor is still so important to Dana White and UFC. Could any other fighter in the division be put up against Khabib’s rising start with such emphasis? Could anyone but McGregor sell this fight to the masses, especially at a time when UFC is concerned about buy-rate?
White clearly knows McGregor’s value to UFC
McGregor’s past does deserve to be discussed, but it should not tarnish what he has achieved in the Octagon, nor what he has done to elevate the sport. White knows this to be true, as do McGregor’s legion of loyal fans in Ireland and beyond.
And, make no mistake about it, the proud McGregor is putting a lot on the line here. Khabib is the bookmakers’ favourite for the fight, coming in at odds of 4/6 with Betfair – that’s roughly on a par with Gennady Golovkin, who will face Canelo Alvarez in a rematch this month. Put simply, the sportsbooks think that the Russian will come out on top.
McGregor’s odds will attract punters
McGregor, who is given best odds of 11/8 by Bet365, should not be ruled out. Khabib will never have faced anyone with striking ability quite like the Irishman before. That left-hook makes the odds of 17/10 for a McGregor KO/TKO very tempting. Indeed, for a fight with such a big hype, there are plenty of Khabib vs McGregor betting offers from top bookies, including free bets. So, check them out before you part with any money.
There is, of course, every chance that the bookmakers have got it wrong. Their odds for a stoppage finish, as low as 4/17 in places (16/5 Betfair that it goes the distance), might have been oversold a bit. Regardless, they are reflecting the chatter on the fight forums that suggest McGregor’s time at the top is over. Some, however, are not so sure.