12-fight win streak. Two straight dominant finishes over one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in UFC history. Put this man opposite any one at 145 or 155 lbs and they’re going to be in for a rough night. So why did UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway open as such a big underdog for his short notice bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223? Well, fighting on just six days notice may have something to do with, right?
FightBooth MMA’s 2017 Fighter of the Year award winner Max Holloway has opened up as a +375 underdog in his upcoming title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. It’s true, as a short notice replacement that will be giving up a major weight advantage to his opponent on fight night — not to mention that ankle injury that forced him out of last month’s fight with Frankie Edgar — Holloway make sense as an underdog. It still doesn’t make it any less crazy to see that line next to a current UFC champion that is riding high in his prime.
That said, Nurmagomedov, a sizeable -550 favorite with a 25-0 record, has been scary good leading up to what will be his first UFC title fight this weekend in Brooklyn. But who has he beat? How do his victories compare to Holloway’s? Is the size difference really that much of an issue?
The first win that comes to mind for many would be that scary victory over Michael Johnson in NYC when the UFC made their debut there in 2016. Khabib said the following to Johnson while he smashed in his face before eventually tapping him out with a Kimura, “I have to fight for the title. You know this. I don’t want to smash your face and I already beat you. You have to give up.” He’d also yell at UFC President Dana White during the fight.
That’s pretty incredible confidence and focus for a fighter in the middle of a professional fist fight.
Khabib’s biggest win came over former UFC champ Rafael dos Anjos back in 2014. It was a dominant Unanimous Decision victory for Khabib that was punctuated with his 6 takedowns over a man who would win the world title four fights later against Anthony Pettis. RDA is currently in line for an interim title shot next month in Brazil at 170 lbs.
Throw in his most recent victory over Edson Barboza and you have the three signature wins from Nurmagomedov’s 9-fight UFC career thus far. Put that opposite a fighter who got his losses out of the way early on in his UFC career at a very young age and has rattled of 12 wins against killers like Aldo (x2), Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens and Pettis and you have quite the intriguing short notice fight.
The fact of the matter is, Max Holloway as a +375 is very difficult to pass up, even if he is fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov. Are you willing to take the gamble?
Let us know what you think about these lines (we’ll certainly keep an eye on them as we move toward fight night) and your brand new UFC 223 main event in the comments section below or hit us up on social media @FightBooth.