UFC 254 will be headlined by a lightweight championship unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Justin Gaethje on Saturday, Oct. 24. Here we look at UFC 254 odds and the angles bettors will wager into as gambling action intensifies for this event.
Early line movements: Khabib trending up early, as did Walt Harris. That heavyweight bout line moved last week from Volkov -230 to -194, with Harris shifting from +180 to +162.
Gaethje backers will love to see FanDuel’s moneyline of +260. There may never be a more attractive price for a 23-2 fighter, who holds a belt and has been overlooked in the pre-fight hype. Gaethje destroyed the Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson party, defeating Ferguson as an underdog back in May. It derailed the Khabib vs. Ferguson bout insiders expected. It looks like there is a Khabib-love premium baked into this line, as his odds keep rising. The moneyline is priced-to-entice for Gaethje backers. The next move in this line could be a bounce in Gaethje’s direction early on during fight week. If Gaethje is your pick, now is a great time to take it.
Nurmagomedov is ranked as the UFC’s No. 2 pound for pound fighter, and, given the recent performances of top-ranked Jon Jones, could be considered No. 1. That brings name recognition into play, which inevitably drives betting action (Gaethje is no slouch at No. 7). Khabib appeal is similar to NFL teams like the San Francisco 49ers back in the day, and the New England Patriots with Tom Brady. They attracted bets on reputation alone.
Many Khabib bettors will have no interest in -300 and divert to props. For Khabib, the oddsmakers were a little sharper than one might have expected in issuing the submission prop. It’s a modest +210 at FanDuel on a bet we often see in the +500 to +600 range, probably based on recent results. His last two victories and three of the last five have occurred by submission. It’s also not lost on insiders that Khabib rose to prominence with the neck-crank submission victory over Conor McGregor and that he is, overall, an excellent ground fighter. It is also interesting that FanDuel has Khabib at +230 to win on points. This suggests Khabib is well-rounded and can win by submission, decision or stoppage. Gaethje, by contrast, is +900 on points and +2600 to win by submission, the kind of disparity one expects for a fighter known for a specific style. Gaethje is a strong stand up fighter.
UFC 254 odds: Khabib vs. Justin Gaethje breakdown
Khabib had an unexpectedly long layoff because COVID-19 restrictions forbade him from traveling to the United States from Russia for an April matchup against Ferguson. He hasn’t fought since last September, when he defeated Dustin Poirier, who has a win over Gaethje. In 2018, Khabib had two fights. This is only his fourth fight in three years.
They have both fought Edson Barboza and Poirier. Gaethje stopped Barboza in one round, while Khabib decisioned him in three. Khabib stopped Poirier via submission. Gaethje was stopped by Poirier. It shows that on a given night, either of these fighters can thrive if they can force the fight to be waged in their comfort zone.
Gaethje comes in off the performance of a lifetime when he halted Ferguson. Bettors rejoiced because the Gaethje KO/TKO in Round 5 returned in the neighborhood of 35-1 at many major sportsbooks. Winning a championship often raises one’s performance level.
Khabib, 28-0, is a machine. Poirier had the formula to beat him – stand-up striking from long range – but it ultimately didn’t result in a win. The moment Poirier hesitated, Khabib dove in, tackled the legs and had his opponent on the ground. It’s impossible to keep Khabib at bay the entire fight – unless some early strikes hurt him. Nobody’s been able to do that yet.