Undefeated smashing machine Khabib Nurmagomedov is now the UFC lightweight champion after dominating a tough-as-nails Al Iaquinta at last weekend’s UFC 223, and he could (should) be headed for one of the biggest fights in MMA history.
That bout is an obvious showdown with former two-division champion Conor McGregor, who sent the hype for the anticipated fight into the stratosphere by throwing a metal dolly through a bus Khabib was riding after UFC 223 media day last Thursday.
If a monstrous “Eagle” vs. “Notorious” does somehow happen one day, it’s the Russian wrestling prodigy who would be favored to win. According to the odds from ‘The Oddessa Line’ (via MMA Junkie), Khabib has opened as a -165 favorite over the +135 McGregor.
It’s hardly a surprise to see Nurmagomedov open as the favorite because he’s undefeated and the hype is on him right now after he put some lopsided scores across the board on short-notice replacement Al Iaquinta. Many, including those swayed by Joe Rogan’s harsh criticism of Nurmagomedov’s striking, think that he could easily be defeated even though he peppered talented boxer Iaquinta’s face with sharp jabs and outstruck him by a gross margin.
Khabib does hold his chin a bit high when striking, that much is definitely true, and if anyone could hit him with a knockout shot it would be the power-punching McGregor.
However, we haven’t seen ‘The Notorious’ since his second-round TKO win over Eddie Alvarez in the main event of November 2016’s UFC 205, and he’s mainly been in the news for his over-the-top and now, illegal out-of-the-cage antics since his reported $100 million purse to box Floyd Mayweather last August.
A rematch between the Irish megastar and ‘Money’ has been rumored for the octagon, and with McGregor facing assault charges in New York for the incident last week, his UFC return is uncertain for 2018 – and perhaps ever.
You’d have to think he’ll return at some point, however. Will it be as an underdog against Khabib or as a massive favorite against Mayweather?