Khabib Nurmagomedov is, at long last, the UFC lightweight champion. He earned that distinction with a lopsided unanimous decision win over last-minute replacement opponent Al Iaquinta in the main event of UFC 223 last weekend.
Now a ridiculous 26-0 overall, Nurmagomedov can start looking forward to his first challenge as UFC lightweight champion. While nothing is set in stone just yet, the frontrunners when it comes to his first challenger are former champion Conor McGregor, and former interim champion Tony Ferguson—both of whom were stripped when Nurmagomedov won the title at UFC 223.
Interestingly—and perhaps unsurprisingly—Nurmagomedov has been pegged as a betting favorite over both of these men. This, per veteran MMA oddsmaker Joey Oddessa.
Oddessa has identified Nurmagomedov as a -165 favorite over Conor McGregor, who he’s labelled a +135 underdog. This means that a successful $165 bet on Nurmagomedov would earn you $100, while a successful $100 bet on McGregor would earn you $135.
Similarly, Oddessa has pinned Nurmagomedov as a -200 favorite over Ferguson, who he has pegged at +165. This means that a successful $200 bet on Nurmagomedov would earn you $100, while a successful $100 bet on Ferguson would earn you $165.
Oddessa explained his rationale to MMAjunkie:
“If you look at social media, fans are divided on how high a favorite Khabib would be against either fighter (McGregor or Ferguson) – or a favorite at all,” he said. “People just watched Khabib in a stay-busy fight that he won by a blowout on all the scorecards. But he didn’t finish. Big deal.
” … The fight against Iaquinta was just provided more information for someone to try to sort out on a path to losing money. Nothing changed. You think Khabib’s looking to fight Conor or Tony the same way he fought Iaquinta? No shot.”
What do you think of the opening odds for potential fights between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson and Conor McGregor?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/11/2018.