The UFC might soon have to part ways with Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated grappling monster from Dagestan who is widely considered the most dominant fighter in UFC history.
He’s 28-0, and he’s suggested that he’ll retire at 30-0, should he get there. Nurmagomedov’s father recently passed away, a tragic event that many MMA analysts say greatly increases the chances he’ll walk away from the sport at the nice round number of 30 wins and no losses.
Nurmagomedov is set to face Justin Gaethje for the lightweight title on Oct. 24 in what could be a relatively tough test for Nurmagomedov. He’s a -250 favorite against the American, but many people are already looking past that fight. Even Nurmagomedov wrote on Instagram that he wants to battle Canadian MMA legend Georges St-Pierre in April 2021, a fight that more than likely doesn’t come to fruition if Nurmagomedov loses to Gaethje. The UFC has flirted with the fight before, but with Khabib eyeing retirement, the odds have dramatically increased. The 155-pound belt will be vacated either way.
For GSP, a comeback fight at 39 years of age only makes sense if he’s trying to take Nurmagomedov’s “O” and become the first fighter in UFC history with a belt in three different weight classes. GSP reigned as the 170 king for years before walking away in 2013, only to return in 2017 to win the 185 title and then unofficially retire once again. GSP is only interested in a legacy fight, so Nurmagomedov more than likely must win in October to make the April megafight a reality.
The fight would more than likely be one of the most heavily bet UFC fights of all time for the legal sports betting industry in the U.S., which has been rapidly expanding outside Nevada since a mid-2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It is possible Nurmagomedov vs. GSP becomes the most heavily bet in history, surpassing even the historic betting handles on Conor McGregor’s two fights with Nate Diaz.
Early odds on Nurmagomedov vs. GSP
At FanDuel Sportsbook, a regulated operator live in several U.S. jurisdictions, Nurmagomedov opens as a -255 favorite against GSP, who sits at +210. Despite his inactivity, GSP is still highly regarded.
Nurmagomedov is a slightly bigger favorite against GSP than he is against Gaethje.
With odds like that on the GSP fight, sportsbooks are probably going to see a ton of action on GSP, a huge fan favorite who many regard as the greatest of all-time. A lot of punters will take GSP at +210, so the moneyline odds could narrow, though Khabib could very well have value at -255. If you like GSP, now might be the best time to get a bet in, even though the fight is far from official and is over eight months away. You would be giving the sportsbook a loan in a sense, and it’s not fun having your money tied up for that long, but you could think of it as a futures bet. The money would be refunded if the fight doesn’t happen.
FanDuel is currently offering one other market on the fight, as it will take time before the other non-moneyline wagers come together. At FanDuel, you can bet the over/under on the total rounds.
The line is -112 on the fight lasting under 2.5 rounds and -112 on it going over 2.5 rounds.
Value bet on the total rounds market?
Nurmagomedov’s style of fighting is beyond well known at this point. He pushes you to the fence, drags you to the floor and grinds you down by beating on you. He’s done it time after time in one of the toughest divisions in all of MMA. The 155-pound weight class is a shark tank.
It’s hard to argue that he isn’t a favorite to do that to GSP as well.
GSP is also known for his grappling, though in his career he’s also heavily utilized his polished striking. Nurmagomedov more than likely needs to do what he’s always done in order to beat GSP.
But with GSP’s wrestling background and presumed striking advantage over Nurmagomedov, it almost appears to be a slam dunk bet on the fight going over 2.5 rounds. In Nurmagomedov’s entire UFC career dating back to 2012, he’s had just two fights not make it to the third round.
GSP hasn’t had one of his fights end before the third round since 2008!
GSP’s coach is also on the record stating that the fight will likely be a long one, as GSP will be looking to neutralize Nurmagomedov over the course of the fight. GSP isn’t a knockout artist, and Nurmagomedov has a great chin, so there’s almost no chance GSP gets a quick finish.
There’s also the X factor here of Nurmagomedov having immense respect for GSP. MMA is a strange sport sometimes, where fighters do unusual things in the octagon against specific opponents. It’s very possible Nurmagomedov decides to keep one round standing instead of trying to drag GSP to the floor in order to get a full round of striking in against the Canadian legend. Nurmagomedov’s striking is underrated, and he would likely be interested in showcasing that against GSP in his final UFC fight.
GSP is known for taking his opponents to the canvas, but it’s very unlikely he’s looking to do that to Nurmagomedov, at least early on in the fight when Nurmagomedov is fresh.
If you don’t mind having your money tied up until the spring of next year, you could definitely make a bet here.
Photo by Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY Sports