Nurmagomedov opens as 2-to-1 betting favorite over Ferguson

Khabib Nurmagomedov was angling for a shot at Conor McGregor and the UFC lightweight championship, but he'll instead fight Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship at UFC 209 in Las Vegas. He'll open as a 2-to-1 betting favorite. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov will be about a 2-to-1 favorite over Tony Ferguson in their interim lightweight championship fight at UFC 209 on March 4, according to money-line betting odds.

Nurmagomedov (24-0) will open as a minus-205 favorite. Ferguson (22-3), who is riding a nine-fight win streak, will open as a plus-165 underdog.

Lines were provided by Nick Kalikas of MMAOddsBreaker.com.

"I expect each man to be the other's toughest opponent to date," Kalikas said. "Stylistically, Nurmagomedov is one of the best wrestlers in the entire UFC and has taken down just about everyone he's ever faced.

"Ferguson is a much better striker and also possesses an unorthodox ground game due to his length. Ferguson has good takedown defense, but it may not be good enough."

This is the third time the UFC has tried to book a fight between these two. They were scheduled to fight in December 2015 and April 2016. Both bouts fell through due to injury.

Fighting out of Southern California, Ferguson is coming off a five-round decision win over former champion Rafael dos Anjos.

Nurmagomedov had been angling for a fight against champion Conor McGregor but turned his attention to Ferguson after McGregor announced he would miss extended time in 2017 in anticipation of the birth of his first child.

The 155-pound interim title fight will serve as the co-main event of UFC 209, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena. A welterweight championship fight between Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) and Stephen Thompson (13-3-1) will headline.