Khabib returns to Octagon as heavy UFC 242 odds favourite

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Khabib Nurmagomedov speaks at a news conference after the UFC 229 mixed martial arts event in Las Vegas. (John Locher/AP)

Khabib Nurmagomedov will make his first octagon appearance since his controversial victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 when he puts his UFC lightweight title on the line against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 on Saturday as a heavy -500 betting favourite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Nurmagomedov claimed a fourth-round submission victory over McGregor in the first defence of the belt, paying out on -275 odds and extending his unblemished professional MMA record to 27-0 going into Saturday’s matchup at The Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

A post-fight altercation involving Khabib, McGregor, and their respective entourages resulted in a nine-month suspension and $500,000 fine for the 30-year-old Russian. However, the lengthy break is not expected to negatively impact Khabib, who claimed the UFC lightweight title with a five-round unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta as heavy -600 chalk at UFC 223 while also earning a Performance of the Night bonus.

A submission specialist, Khabib has finished opponents in 17 of his 27 victories, but he has regularly seen fights go the distance since joining the UFC in 2012 with six of his past 10 fights being decided by the judges.

Poirier is pegged as a lengthy +325 underdog on the UFC 242 odds as he returns to action for the first time since winning the interim UFC lightweight title with a unanimous decision win over Max Holloway at UFC 236, rewarding bettors as a +190 underdog.

The Lafayette, Louisiana native is undefeated in his past six fights, earning performance bonuses in five of those bouts. Unlike Khabib, Poirier has seen just three of his past 14 fights go the distance, with the 30-year-old posting wins by knockout or TKO on eight occasions.

However, Poirier also came out on the wrong side of two fights ended by KO during that stretch, suffering opening-round losses to McGregor as a +195 underdog at UFC 178, and to Michael Johnson as a -170 favourite at UFC Fight Night 94.

Elsewhere on the UFC 242 odds, Edson Barboza looks to rebound after falling to defeat in three of his past four outings, as he enters the octagon as a -160 favourite in a lightweight clash with Paul Felder, who sports +130 odds.

A winner of five straight contests, Islam Makhachev battles Davi Ramos as heavy -360 chalk in another lightweight clash, while Russian veteran Shamil Abdurakhimov takes on American Curtis Blaydes as a lengthy +350 underdog in a battle of heavyweights.

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