Conor McGregor is one of the most exciting new fighters in the UFC today. He’s also a massive favorite on the MMA odds board in Saturday’s Fight Night 59 main event against Dennis Siver.
It’s been a while since we last checked in on Conor McGregor. What’s happened with The Notorious One in the meantime? Oh, not much. McGregor only beat the living tar out of both Diego Brandao (+400) and Dustin Poirier (+180), winning both fights by first-round TKO and earning back-to-back Performance of the Night honors. There’s no doubt that McGregor has become one of the most popular and dangerous fighters in the Octagon.
So why is it so hard for McGregor to get PPV time? His next bout takes place this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 59 (main card at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1), where he’ll take on Dennis Siver in front of what should be a rabid pro-McGregor crowd at the Boston Garden. Assuming the Irish sensation wins this fight – and he almost certainly will – McGregor will go on to face Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship. The MMA odds for Saturday’s fight have McGregor (16-2 lifetime) pegged at anywhere between –998 and –1400, up from –600 at the open.
Biggie Biggie Biggie
Far be it from us to tell Dana White how to promote his company. He knows that a superstar fighter has landed in his lap; you could make the argument that White is protecting McGregor by putting him in the Octagon against Siver, a striker who isn’t likely to test McGregor on the ground. By the way, that projected McGregor-Aldo fight could end up taking place at Dublin’s Croke Park, in front of 80,000-plus fans.
While we haven’t seen much of McGregor’s grappling game (he’s only spent a total of 22 minutes in the Octagon, spread across four fights), he’s been completely dominant on the ground thus far. Four of his five takedown attempts were successful, while McGregor’s opponents are 0-for-2. He’s also shown good top control despite having yet to attempt a submission. Training in Iceland with Gunnar Nelson has clearly helped McGregor in this area.
But it’s the striking that everyone’s talking about. McGregor uses his 74-inch reach and southpaw stance with intelligence, connecting on 35 percent of his power strikes to the head, according to Fightnomics. He put down Brandao with a straight left in their fight, then drilled Poirer with a left hook behind the ear that put the Louisiana native out on his feet. McGregor is also very smart with his striking defense, fending off 82 percent of the punches thrown at his head.
This is all bad news for Siver (22-9-1). Here’s a veteran fighter who deserves and has earned all the respect in the world, a former kickboxing champion who has pulled off upset wins over the likes of George Sotiropoulos (–410) and Paul Kelly (–450). But Siver also had his 2013 victory over Manny Gamburyan (+225) overturned after testing positive for gonadotropin. At age 36, Siver might find it difficult to stay competitive against younger and tougher competition, let alone an opponent with a two-inch height and four-inch reach advantage.
Lights Out, Uh-Huh
So how should we handle a fight like this when the UFC odds are dramatically tilted toward the favorite? Our colleague Swinging Johnson has recommended taking a different path and heading over to the props market, where McGregor is available at –475 to win via knockout (including TKOs). Good choice, given the striking mentality of both fighters.
If McGregor’s last two results are any indication, you might also want to consider taking the UNDER in how many rounds Saturday’s fight will go. The total is set at 1.5 rounds, with the UNDER pegged at between –177 and –200. But as long as you’ve got the bankroll to eat some chalk if things unexpectedly go south, your surest bet is adding McGregor to win as your UCF pick, period.
Free MMA Pick: Take McGregor to win