After a string of “Fight Night” cards, we finally get a numbered UFC with a killer main event at the top. In that main event, undefeated champion and absolutely devastating force Khabib Nurmagomedov faces human highlight reel and interim champion Justin Gaethje with the winner being the undisputed lightweight king. Aside from the headliner, there are plenty of other good scraps on the card. Let’s get to it!
Khabib Nurmagomedov (-345) vs Justin Gaethje (+285)
There’s no denying how strong the champs game is. His wrestling for MMA is GSP level or better, and his devastating top control and ground ‘n pound can wilt the toughest of competition. Just look at his victims: McGregor, Barboza, and Porier, just to name a few. However, he might be facing his toughest test in interim champ Gaethje.
Gaethje will pressure the champ and force Khabib to work off his back foot. If he can keep the pressure on, he can force bad shots from Khabib, which could turn the tide in his favor. However, if Gaethje starts moving backward, gets over aggressive with his pressure or is put up against the cage, it will be rinse and repeat all night for Khabib.
This is closer than the odds say, and Gaethje is a killer GPP play. However, Khabib is Khabib, and is playable anywhere.
Jared Cannonier (-115) vs Robert Whitaker (-105)
I was initially surprised to see former middleweight king Whitaker as a slight underdog here. For once though, Whitaker won’t be the bully as he is outsized and out powered by the hulking Cannonier. With a title shot versus Israel Adesanya on the line, this should be fun while it lasts. These two will slug it out until one of them drops.
I think Cannonier’s power will just be too much. Whitaker will eventually get clipped and hit the deck. I would play Cannonier in GPPs. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I’ll pass on Bobby Knuckles.
Alexander Volkov (-170) vs Walt Harris (+150)
Former Bellator heavyweight title holder Volkov is a long, rangy fighter who packs a deceptive amount of pop in his hands. He likes to keep opponents on the end of his strikes while he looks to land combinations at distance and knees in the clinch.
Harris’ story is well documented. His a huge, bruising heavyweight who has suffered immeasurable personal tragedy. Harris has speed, power and aggression in spades, but it is his aggression that will lead him to chase Volkov and burn his gas tank.
I like Volkov in cash, and I wouldn’t hate taking a GPP flier on a Big Ticket KO.
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