Colorado’s Justin Gaethje Looks To Pull Off Big Upset In UFC 254 Main Event

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The UFC’s Justin Gaethje is looking to pull off what would be one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.

Gaethje, who lives and trains in Colorado, is looking to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov, the 28-0 grappling kingpin, in a five-round lightweight title fight at UFC 254 on Saturday. It’s expected to be a relatively tough test for Nurmagomedov, who has dominated the UFC competition since his debut in 2012.

Colorado’s legal and regulated online/mobile sportsbooksDraftKings, BetRivers, FanDuel, FOX Bet, and PointsBet — all have Gaethje (22-2) as a sizable underdog. Below is a look at the prices at the aforementioned smartphone gambling apps.

SportsbookNurmagomedovGaethje
DraftKings-335+270
FanDuel-340+260
BetRivers-335+270
FOX Bet-300+250
PointsBet-350+260

Odds are subject to change, but as of Wednesday afternoon, FOX Bet is where you want to go to wager on the champion, and BetRivers or DraftKings are your best shops for taking Gaethje.

The odds at the sportsbooks peg Gaethje as the winner of about 25 fights if the two men fought 100 times, with Nurmagomedov winning 75. That’s the implied probability.

From what we’ve seen from Nurmagomedov’s storied career, there’s value on him here. He has only lost one round in the UFC, but that was against Conor McGregor two years ago and it’s dubious whether it really counts. Nurmagomedov said he changed his game plan in an effort to KO the Irishman via boxing. Nurmagomedov couldn’t pull it off, and he ended up simply dominating McGregor on the ground in an easy victory. McGregor apologists still point to that one round as justification for a rematch.

Anyway, back to Gaethje. His lifelong wrestling background and powerful hands are widely considered to be the recipe needed to have a chance at defeating Nurmagomedov. If Nurmagomedov struggles to push Gaethje to the fence and take him down, it will likely be a dicey night for the champion.

In case it might be relevant, the fight will take place in Abu Dhabi, which is close-ish to a home game for Nurmagomedov, though the in-person audience will be limited.

Other betting markets

Nurmagomedov could conceivably win with his fists or by submission, and of course by points should it go the full five rounds. It’s hard to say which is most likely.

His 28 career wins consist of eight by KO/TKO, 10 by points, and 10 by submission. Sportsbooks think a submission against Gaethje is the most likely, with FanDuel and FOX Bet offering +195 and +200 on that outcome, respectively.

Gaethje has never been submitted. Coupled with an iron chin, Nurmagomedov by points could be the true favorite in terms of his method of victory. Both the aforementioned books are offering +250 on Nurmagomedov via the judges’ scorecards.

You’ll find Nurmagomedov at around +400 to win by KO/TKO.

As for Gaethje, the books think that by far his most likely route to victory comes by KO/TKO. PointsBet has the best price on this outcome at +475.

FanDuel and FOX Bet are offering +1200 and +1400 on Gaethje by points, respectively. If you like Gaethje in the fight and believe that even a losing Nurmagomedov would be incredibly hard to finish, +1400 could be an attractive price for this proposition bet.

We won’t even give you Gaethje’s odds of winning by submission. That’s very, very unlikely to happen.

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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