Stepping up to fight Conor McGregor with less than two weeks’ notice, Nate Diaz is a significant underdog in the main event of UFC 196 on Saturday night. McGregor has become the biggest name in mixed martial arts, and the betting odds indicate that he could have another dominant performance in Las Vegas.
McGregor is a -380 favorite to defeat Diaz, who has +290 betting odds at Bovada.lv. Diaz isn’t expected to win by most experts, but the odds are so much in McGregor’s favor that the betting public is backing the underdog.
Earlier in the week, McGregor’s odds were close to 5/1 at some sportsbooks as gamblers jumped all over Diaz.
— Dave Mason (@DaveMasonBOL) March 2, 2016
Diaz is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Michael Johnson, whom he defeated on Dec. 19. It was Diaz’s first fight in over a year, following his loss to Rafael dos Anjos, who withdrew from UFC 196 because of a broken foot.
Diaz weighed in at 156 pounds and 160.6 pounds for his last two fights, and Saturday’s fight will have a 170-pound weight limit. After winning the 145-pound featherweight title nearly three months ago, McGregor will fight as a welterweight for the first time in his career.
As he moves up two weight classes, McGregor could have trouble scoring a quick knockout. However, the 27-year-old has risen to prominence by making quick work of his opponents. He knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to win the featherweight championship, and none of his last five fights have reached the third round.
According to betting website 5Dimes, the odds of the fight ending before the third round begins are -163. The website gives McGregor -265 odds to win by knockout, and gamblers can get +185 odds for the fight ending in any other fashion.
It’s been more than two years since Diaz won a fight that ended prematurely, knocking out Gray Maynard on Nov. 30, 2013. Diaz has +600 odds to win by submission, and +463 odds to win a fight that goes the distance.
McGregor and Diaz are known for being two of the most charismatic fighters in UFC. They talked plenty of trash at their press conference last week, including Diaz’s claim that his opponent and the rest of UFC are on steroids. 5Dimes gives -210 odds that the fighters won’t touch gloves before the fight, and +160 odds that they will touch gloves. Other sportsbooks offer additional prop bets regarding the in-ring behavior of Diaz and McGregor.
Coral are offering odds of 1.53 (-188) that Diaz Shows Conor The Middle Finger At Some Point During the Fight pic.twitter.com/DEQRQ4qgCu
— Bookie Insiders MMA (@UFCInsiders) February 26, 2016
A replacement for dos Anjos other than Diaz might offer McGregor more of a challenge at Saturday’s pay-per-view, but UFC President Dana White had limited options. Frankie Edgar would be a +150 underdog against McGregor, but he is recovering from a torn groin. Jose Aldo would be a +160 underdog in a potential rematch with McGregor, but he only recently returned to training.