UFC 229: Khabib vs McGregor Free Value Bets and Predictions
It’s finally UFC 229 fight week, the most highly anticipated fight week of the year so far. Conor McGregor is making his UFC return to make a run at a belt he never lost, the lightweight title, against undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov. The bout has been talked about for years now, as their collision course has finally met its destination. The UFC 229 Main Card also features arguably the “real” UFC Lightweight champ, Tony Ferguson, who takes on one of the greatest lightweights of all time in Anthony Pettis.
You’ve also got a heavyweight #1 contender fight in Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov (when you take Stipe, Brock, and Jon Jones out of the picture of course). Light Heavyweights Dominick Reyes and Ovince St. Preux isn’t a #1 contender fight, but the winner will certainly be apart of the next one at LHW. Michelle Waterson and Felice Herrig will also battle to see which one of them is truly a contender at 115 pounds, with the loser having their best interest to be moving up in a less stacked division.
The prelims were supposed to feature rising star “Sugar” Sean O’Malley in a bantamweight contest, but according to his Instagram, he will be pulled out due to a contaminated substance he popped for. This is a big blow to the prelims, but will still likely see big ratings because that’s just how big the card is. They also have some nice options from the Fight Pass prelims to bump it up, with Gray Maynard and Yana Kunitskaya (she headlined a pay per view six months ago believe it or not). There’s also a top five fight at flyweight in #2 Sergio Pettis and #5 Jussier Formiga where the winner will likely get the shot post-DJ rematch if it ever happens.
So you want to find out who wins and the best way to earn some money while watching? Let’s get your pay per view money back!
Jussier Formiga (+125) vs Sergio Pettis (145)
Pettis had his best showing to date in a split decision win over longtime contender Joseph Benavidez, but that was right after his worst performance against Henry Cejudo. Formiga lost to both of those men (in 2015 and 2013) but Formiga is more advanced with more experience and has the ability to outwrestle Pettis. In a three-round fight, that should be enough to earn the win. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the SUB win, which currently sits at a nice +424.
Formiga Sub (+424)
Michelle Waterson (+115) vs Felice Herrig (-135)
These two were extremely close to a title shot before their last losses. Herrig was on a four-fight win streak before her UFC 223 loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Waterson was Rose Namajunas’ last win before her title shot and eventual title reign. Waterson and Herrig now find themselves at a crossroad to get to the top of the stacked women’s strawweight division. Waterson and Herrig also are capable of getting the submission while not afraid to keep it standing. 60% of Waterson’s wins have come from submissions to 27% for Felice, but Waterson has 3 submission losses to Herrig’s 0. I expect a determined Herrig to come out strong and get a win to put herself back in the conversation. Herrig by SUB is +750, but I’m not sure that’s enough to bite given the likelihood of a decision. I’d go Herrig straight up.
Herrig SU (-135)
Ovince St. Preux (+195) vs Dominick Reyes (-235)
The battle of finishes at light heavyweight should be an exciting one. Reyes has become a well known knockout artist the last year, while St. Preux has finished four of his last five by way of KO or SUB. Reyes is 9-0 with eight first round finishes. If he gets one here against his toughest opponent yet, he could proclaim himself as the future of 205 at just 28 years old. St. Pruex has been around and has fought the top guys at 205, including a 5 round decision loss to Jon Jones back in 2016. OSP has had trouble with the hardest hitters at 205 in Jimmi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdimer, Reyes is of the same caliber. While OSP has a chance to win submit him if he can get past the first round, he might not get to see anything past the first five minutes. Reyes straight up is -235, but if he does win, it’ll be by knockout which is still -120 but still the best bet because if something isn’t going to happen, it’s not a good bet.
Reyes TKO (-120)
Derrick Lewis (+165) vs Alexander Volkov (-190)
Lewis and Volkov are both coming off their biggest wins to date over Francis Ngannou and Fabricio Werdum. They were accomplished in different fashion, as Lewis had a forgettable decision win and Volkov’s fourth round knockout over Werdum. Lewis and Volkov are both very dangerous knockout artists. Volkov, at 6″7, has never been knocked out in 36 career fights. The Black Beast isn’t a small guy by any means, 6″3 265 pounds doesn’t scream small. But Lewis will have his hands full trying to solve the Volkov puzzle. Lewis has had back problems recently that have hindered his performance, but it hasn’t stopped him from winning eight of his last nine all in the UFC. The problem at hand is that Volkov is 29, healthy, and can go hard for all three rounds. Funny enough, Lewis’ wins have all come against 6″4 or 6″7 guys like Travis Browne and Ngannou, and his one loss in the last three years has come to 5″11 Mark Hunt. Volkov is favored and rightfully so, but Lewis for sure has the capablity to give Volkov his first knockout loss. I just don’t think Lewis is healthy enough at this stage of his career to do it.
With Lewis cardio problems coming into play in every fight after a round, Volkov by third round KO at +1600 is the best value bet you will get from this fight.
Volkov 3rd Rd TKO (+1600)
Anthony Pettis (+315) vs Tony Ferguson (-380)
Tony Ferguson does not want to be in this fight. His last fight was for an interim title, which he won by submission over Kevin Lee. He has the best winning percentage in the UFC and has done everything to deserve a title shot. But after a nasty injury right before UFC 223, he was pushed back even more. He now faces Anthony Pettis, who was seemingly a former shadow of himself before his last win over Michael Chiesa at UFC 226. But Pettis is still the younger guy believe it or not. He also has submission skills close to the same leve las Ferguson, just not as good of a wrestler. But Ferguson takes lots of damage and Pettis can dish it, making this one an interesting stylistic match up.
This feels like the fight where Ferguson could lose his streak and everything he’s worked towards, especially if he’s trying to come back from his injury too early. If this were prime Pettis versus a worn down and possibly still injured Ferguson, I’d take him as an upset. If this were odds picks, I’d say Pettis at +270 is a solid underdog bet. But if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick the winner, I’d say Ferguson. With Ferguson and Pettis being such a good match up, it’s tough to tell just how this will end. Pettis would win by decision but Ferguson could win any of the three ways. If you’re looking for value though, Ferguson by decision at +166 is about all you can find, given Ferguson hasn’t won by KO in his past eight wins and Pettis has never been submitted by anything other than strikes.
Ferguson via Decision (+166)
Conor McGregor (+140) vs Khabib Nurmagomedov (C) (-165)
The big daddy of them all (in UFC anyway) is the main event for UFC 229. Both fighters are each other’s worst match ups. Khabib’s biggest weakness is his lack of striking defense against pressuring opponents. McGregor’s biggest battle every fight is being taken to the ground when his cardio becomes a factor. With the best counter striker in mixed martial arts goes up against the best wrestler in mixed martial arts, you know there’s going to be fireworks.
What kind of fireworks? Ground and pound from Khabib against a tired McGregor in the third round leading to an easy submission? A left hand from hell that drops Khabib in the first round and he’s unable to recover? We’ll have to wait and see. Betting wise, it’s a tough one. But it doesn’t have to be. McGregor is likely to win by knockout from rounds 1-3. If you bet some money on McGregor round 2 TKO (+850) or round 3 TKO (+1400), then you’re getting big returns on the underdog. For Khabib, many are picking him to win TKO/KO but I guess have failed to watch their past fights.
Khabib is dominant from top position, but not from a strikes standpoint, but from an “I’m not letting you move until the round is over so here’s 100 small punches” standpoint. McGregor has never been knocked out before in MMA and is likely to be submitted more than anything. For Khabib via submission, you have +2800 in the fifth round, +1800 round four, and +1200 in round three. If he does get McGregor to tap, expect it in the later rounds.
Now all the sudden you’re betting picks are looking at great odds to choose from. In fact, you could do separate ones on McGregor in round 2 and 3, and Khabib via Sub in rounds 3-4. If you’re backing Khabib, take him 3,4,5 by submission. If you’re backing Conor, take him rounds 2-3 TKO. Personally, I see the most value and most likelihood in McGregor round 3 TKO (+1400) and Khabib round 4 submission (+1800). In fact, put $20 on them both and come out with either $360 from Khabib’s win or $280 from the Irishman. Why not? You need some cash right?
McGregor Round 3 TKO (+1400) and Khabib Round 4 Sub (+1800)