Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson’s long discussed interim lightweight title fight is finally official. The two dynamic lightweights will collide in the co-main event of UFC 209 on March 4 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Now that this anticipated scrap is official for the March card, the opening odds for it have been released – and they might surprise you. Despite Ferguson’s ridiculous, 9-fight winning streak, Nurmagomedov has been identified as a sizeable 2-1 favorite.
This opening betting line, which comes from Nick Kalikas of MMAOddsBreaker.com (via ESPN) has Dagestan’s Nurmagomedov pegged as a -205 favorite. Ferguson, on the other hand, has been identified as a -165 underdog.
What this means in layman’s terms is that a successful bet of $205 on Khabib Nurmagomedov would win the bettor $100. A successful bet of $100 on Tony Ferguson, meanwhile, would yield a return of $165. So, the odds favor a Nurmagomedov win in a fairly noteworthy way.
Speaking to ESPN, oddsmaker Nick Kalikas explained the rationale behind these odds:
“I expect each man to be the other’s toughest opponent to date,” he said. “Stylistically, Nurmagomedov is one of the best wrestlers in the entire UFC and has taken down just about everyone he’s ever faced.”
“Ferguson is a much better striker and also possesses an unorthodox ground game due to his length. Ferguson has good takedown defense, but it may not be good enough.”
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson’s UFC 209 bout marks the UFC’s third attempt at pairing them together, having scheduled them twice to no avail in the past. Nurmagomedov will enter the fight with a flawless, 24-0 record, which he recently extended with a third-round submission defeat of Michael Johnson. Ferguson, meanwhile, stretched his win-streak to nine last November, when he defeated former champion Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision.
UFC 209 will be headlined by a welterweight title rematch between champ Tyron Woodley and challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Are you surprised by these opening odds? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on [1/13/2017].