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As McGregor vs. Chandler Odds Shift, Sportsbooks Hope UFC 303 Fight Stays Intact

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When UFC president Dana White announced the return of Conor McGregor in a welterweight fight against Michael Chandler as the main event for UFC 303 on June 29, it was heralded as good news for fight sports fans.

It’s also potentially very good news for sportsbooks since McGregor’s star power usually increases interest and betting activity.

But the lead-up to this non-title fight has already been a tumultuous one, with slight though significant movement in UFC 303 odds reflecting the changing perceptions of McGregor’s comeback bout. After the cancellation of Monday’s scheduled press conference in Dublin, there are even concerns about whether the fight will happen as scheduled.

If the fight is called off or postponed, that could alter summer plans for fans and sportsbooks alike.

What are sportsbooks saying about UFC 303?

“McGregor is one of those few stars that transcends the sport.”

BetMGM senior sports trader Alex Rella

“Die-hard MMA fans, casual fans, Conor haters, and people that rarely watch fights and just want to be included in the conversation will tune in to watch him fight. And this subsequently will lead to more people betting on the event. Having a massive star competing is huge for the sportsbooks, and we’ll be very disappointed if the fight falls through.”

Dissecting the odds movements

When the odds opened, the former two-division UFC champ McGregor was a -120 favorite more or less across the board. Chandler, a former Bellator champ who’s seen mixed results since moving to the UFC relatively late in his career, was the underdog at around +110.

That line started to shift as money came in on Chandler. Right around the same time, videos began to emerge of McGregor seemingly partying in nightclubs, raising concerns that he might not be taking his preparations seriously enough after spending nearly the last three years sidelined by a leg fracture.

According to Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, extracurricular activity is less of a concern to sportsbooks than some of the other variables.

“This type of behavior is nothing new for McGregor, so it doesn’t have much of an impact on the line and bettors shouldn’t be surprised.”

draftkings director of race and sportsbook operations Johnny avello

“The main issue bettors might have with McGregor is he has not fought much lately. When you take time off like he has, people become skeptical, which can certainly impact how you bet the fight.”

McGregor’s last fight was TKO loss due to injury in the main event of UFC 264. That was in July of 2021, and the broken leg McGregor suffered late in the first round has kept him out of action since. This will be the longest layoff of McGregor’s professional career, and he comes into the fight having lost two straight and three of his last four.

The cancellation of this week’s press conference adds still more doubt. Rumors have swirled that McGregor is battling an injury, and earlier this week he posted a picture to his Instagram account that appeared to show him smiling and at ease inside a doctor’s office. The UFC has offered few updates on his status, and McGregor has only put out vague explanations for the press conference delay.

The fight is currently still on, at least according to the UFC, but those complicating factors appear to have had an effect an bettors, said BetMGM’s Rella.

Influx of money coming in on Chandler

“We have gone to -115 on Chandler due (to) the recent influx of money coming in on him, (and) we were -115 McGregor last week,” Rella said. “There is some discrepancy in pricing out there at the moment, with some other books as far (as) -120 in either direction. Which makes sense given the numerous intangible factors coming into this fight. Was Conor’s leg injury one that will permanently hinder him? Is he taking the fight camp seriously? It’s been three years since he last fought, and the list goes on.

“If this fight takes place, I doubt we’ll see the final pricing be much more (than) -130 in either direction.”

Sportsbooks have good reason to hope that the fight stays on the card. Coming off his co-starring role opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the new “Road House” movie that premiered on Amazon Prime, McGregor certainly brings a lot of mainstream visibility to the event. Questions may linger about whether he’ll ever be the same fighter he once was, but his celebrity status alone could bring an influx of betting action, according to DraftKings’ Avello.

“McGregor is still a massive draw for us,” Avello said. “He’s one of the biggest names in UFC and always does an excellent job building excitement and visibility around his fights. We’re looking forward to seeing him back in the octagon.”

The post As McGregor vs. Chandler Odds Shift, Sportsbooks Hope UFC 303 Fight Stays Intact appeared first on Legal Sports Report.

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