Will Vitor Belfort's prayers be answered with a win over Jon Jones at UFC 152? Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who are betting heavy on the Brazilian underdog sure hope so. Photo of Belfort by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A young superstar steamrolls everyone in his path, leading many to proclaim him a mixed martial arts (MMA) legend in the making. Standing in his way is a grizzled, undersized veteran.
This Saturday (Sept. 22, 2012) at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Jones will attempt a fourth defense of the 205-pound title he took from Mauricio Rua last year. Looking to end his reign of terror is Belfort, stepping in on short notice after Jones' intended battle with Dan Henderson at UFC 151 fell through.
In addition, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will crown its first flyweight champion when Joseph Benavidez locks horns with Demetrious Johnson, while Brian Stann and Michael Bisping look to settle their 185-pound differences like proper, violent gentlemen.
It's a solid lineup of scraps, with the opportunity for profit hiding just under the surface.
Join us after the break for an in-depth look at the odds behind UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort" as we examine the betting lines for the upcoming fights in the "Great White North:"
UFC 152 Odds For The Under Card:
Evan Dunham (-225) vs. T.J. Grant (+175)
Igor Pokrajac (-180) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (+140)
Seth Baczynski (-175) vs. Simeon Thoresen (+135)
Charlie Brenneman (-230) vs. Kyle Noke (+170)
Walel Watson (-230) vs. Mitch Gagnon (+170)
Lance Benoist (-160) vs. Sean Pierson (+120)
Jimy Hettes (-420) vs. Marcus Brimage (+30)
As big a "Hellboy" Hansen fan as I am and as impressive as Thoresen’s submission game is, I just don’t see this being anything other than a bad night for him. Not only is Baczynski, at 6’3", an enormous Welterweight, but he’s by far the better striker of the two and has demonstrated better wrestling. And considering the trouble Thoresen had with Besam Yousef in the stand up, that’s not good news for him. Baczynski is also significantly more proven against solid opposition, while Thoresen will be making his North American debut.
In other words, there are a whole lot of things going the American’s way; therefore, stick him in a parlay or go straight-up.
Watson looked good against Joseph Sandoval, okay against Yves Jabouin, and pathetic against T.J. Dillashaw. I’m not sure what the oddsmakers see in him aside from his height, which he’s fairly poor at utilizing. He’s demonstrated a decent choke game in the past, but looked completely helpless against Dillashaw once he was on his back. Gagnon will have home field advantage and a better wrestling game, which makes him worth a straight bet as the underdog.
UFC 152 Odds For The Main Card:
Jon Jones (-800) vs. Vitor Belfort (+550)
Joseph Benavidez (-270) vs. Demetrious Johnson (+230)
Michael Bisping (-175) vs. Brian Stann (+155)
Matt Hamill (-395) vs. Roger Hollett (+275)
Charles Oliveira (-260) vs. Cub Swanson (+200)
Thoughts: What we have here is an interesting little arrangement of scraps. Let’s take a closer look.
As a massive fan of "Do Bronx," it pains me to say this, but I think Swanson’s chances aren’t accurately reflected by those odds. While he’s been historically inconsistent, he put a hurting on Ross Pearson that no lightweight -- not even Edson Barboza -- could match. Oliveira is certainly the more dangerous of the two on the mat, but his primary weakness is his porous defense, which Swanson has the tools to exploit. Should Oliveira wrangle him down, I have little doubt that he’ll overwhelm his foe, but considering Swanson's balance and scrambling ability, the odds of him catching something unpleasant to the face before then are good enough to recommend a small bet on Swanson.
Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett is the worst type of fight: One that’s neither stylistically intriguing nor worth gambling on. I’ve got plenty of questions about Hamill’s capabilities after more than one year away from the cage, which makes Hollett’s line tempting, but the fact is that the Canadian just isn’t very good. Even against a low-level journeyman in John Hawk -- who was pretty much hand-selected by Bellator to make Hollett look good -- he gassed badly in the third round and never really looked impressive in the first two. Hamill is too slow and too poor in the stand up to make any sort of dent in the upper echelon of the division, but he’s more than good enough to grind out Hollett.
Leave this fight alone.
I was honestly expecting and hoping that Stann would be a slightly bigger underdog, but them’s the breaks. While Bisping may have slightly better boxing technique, he’s a massive sucker for the right hand -- everyone not named "Miller" that he’s fought since Chris Leben has rocked or stunned him with an overhand right. And if there’s one thing Stann does well, it’s throw a damn hard right hand. The only reason I’m not recommending you bet on him is that Bisping’s wrestling, mediocre as it is, may be enough to either stymie Stann’s offense or grind him out for a decision.
If Stann’s odds get closer to +180 or so, though, he’s worth it.
I honestly don’t see how Johnson beats Benavidez short of some seriously myopic judges. He’s outclassed in the wrestling department and, while the faster of the two, doesn’t pack nearly the power that Benavidez does. I keep trying to come up with a more in-depth breakdown, but the fact is that Benavidez is just sort of better than him at pretty much everything.
Still, "Mighty Mouse" using his speed to stay on the outside and rack up enough points for a questionable decision isn’t too outlandish, so I’d leave this be.
Everyone loves an underdog story, but it ain’t happening in the main event. Jones is a nightmare match up for Belfort, who has historically struggled against wrestlers. While he does pack the power and speed, if not the boxing technique, that are consistently attributed to him, Belfort doesn’t have the means to stay off his back or threaten Jones once there. In addition, he’s not slick enough to close the distance and bring those hands to bear without opening himself up to the takedown. If he makes it past the second round, I’ll be impressed. -800 is a bit steep to be betting on the champion, but +550 isn’t nearly enough for me to recommend putting money down on "The Phenom."
UFC 152 Best Bets:
- Single Bet: Seth Baczynski -- Bet $80 to make $45.71
- Single Bet: Mitch Gagnon -- Bet $40 to make $68
- Single Bet: Cub Swanson -- Bet $30 to make $60
It may not be the card we wanted, but you could do a whole lot worse after a month-long MMA drought.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC 152 results this Saturday, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.