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Posted on September 21, 2012 by Jack Thurman

Bettors Not Backing Belfort At UFC 152

Not much is expected out of UFC 152, scheduled to take place on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The card was hastily amended following the UFC 151 cancellation fiasco and is now headlined by a light heavyweight title defense by Jon Jones. The problem is that no one is buying his opponent, Vitor Belfort, as a legitimate contender. This includes not only fans but UFC betting enthusiasts who have not demonstrated any support for the underdog even as the line on the event swells to unprecedented levels.

At sportsbooks both offshore and in Nevada, Jones remains an overwhelming favorite and in most spots has even crept higher since our last UFC 152 odds update. Jones opened as a -500 betting favorite and has received a flood of money pushing lines on the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion to -800 or higher. Offshore several books are dealing -900 on Jones with takeback on Belfort at +625. In Las Vegas, the LVH Superbook has Jones installed as a hefty -950 choice with takeback on Belfort at +650.

The high prices on Belfort haven’t been enough to attract bettors to back the underdog. There’s several reasons for that–part of it is a by product of the UFC’s hype machine that has been pushing Jones as ‘unbeatable’. That notwithstanding, however, his size and particularly his 84″ reach makes him a tough tactical matchup for any fighter and especially one at the light heavyweight level. Belfort is well past his prime and has never been able to rise above ‘top contender’ status. Still, in a sport where anything can happen it’s hard to pass up any fighter at +650. At this price the implied probability on the underdog (also known as the ‘theoretical breakeven point’) is just a bit over 13%.

In the past few days several experts who bet on UFC as a specialty have advised their followers to back Belfort just for the insane valuation level. Most offer the disclaimer that they expect Belfort to win the fight, but at the same time can’t rationalize passing up such a high price on the underdog. Based on the O/U round prop posted on the fight no one expects it to last long–the O/U on the fight is 1.5 rounds.

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