UFC 152 Betting Preview at Bovada
Technically, the UFC 152 card on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Toronto's Air Canada Centre should be called UFC 151. It will be, after all, the first major pay-per-view event since UFC 150. But UFC 151, originally scheduled for Sept. 1 in Las Vegas, was canceled. It was the first time the organization has done so to a full card in its history.
UFC 151 to be headlined by light-heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and Dan Henderson. However, Henderson suffered a partial ligament tear in his knee and had to withdraw nine days before the fight. UFC president Dana White lined up former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen to replace Henderson, but Jones refused to accept the fight by saying he wouldn't fight Sonnen on eight days' notice.
White was infuriated at Jones but had no choice but to cancel the entire UFC 151 card, which was weak other than the main event, and move Jones to a headline bout at UFC 152. That card was originally to be re-numbered 151, but it would have been a marketing nightmare. The first plan was for Jones to fight against Lyoto Machida, but "the Dragon" turned down the shot because of the insufficient time to prepare. Machida was recently beaten by Jones in December 2011. So former light-heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort got the call, and he jumped at the chance to fight Jones. Belfort had been scheduled to battle Alan Belcher next month at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro.
Belfort (21-9) won the light-heavyweight crown way back in January 2004 at UFC 46 with a TKO victory over Randy Couture, but Belfort lost the rematch eight months later. "The Phenom" enters having won seven of his past eight fights. That one defeat was to pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in February 2011. All of Belfort's past five fights have ended in the first round. Seventeen of his career bouts have finished via knockout, with Belfort on the losing end three times.
Jones (16-1) became the youngest UFC champion in history at age 23 when he beat Mauricio Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011. "Bones" was last in the Octagon in April, beating former training partner Rashad Evans by unanimous decision. It was only the third decision in Jones' career. He has won seven straight fights since his lone loss, a DQ vs. Matt Hamill in "The Ultimate Fighter 10" finale.
Immediately when Jones-Belfort was announced, the champ opened at -1200 at Bovada with Belfort at +700. But heavy action on the challenger, more than 84 percent of all bets, has moved the line to its current Jones -750/Belfort +475. That is still the all-time high for Jones. The closest the market has come to offering Jones at the current odds was when he was -650 vs. Evans in April.
Jones-Belfort isn't the only title bout Sept. 22 as Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson face off for the flyweight championship (125 pounds). It's the first flyweight title fight in UFC history and was to headline UFC 152 before the Jones shift. The organization added the flyweight division early this year and staged a final four-type tournament to settle on the top two contenders.
Benavidez (16-2) earned his shot with a second-round TKO victory over Yasuhiro Urushitani at UFC on FX 2 in March in one semifinal match. Benavidez has won four fights in a row overall, with three of those under the UFC umbrella. Johnson (15-2-1) fought on that same UFC on FX 2 card and drew with Ian McCall in his semifinal. They fought again in June and "Mighty Mouse" by unanimous decision.
Johnson opened as the +230 underdog but has taken more than 78 percent of the action and is now at +225. Benavidez has moved from -300 to -285.
Finally, there is a pivotal middleweight fight on the UFC 152 card as Michael Bisping (22-4) faces Brian Stann (12-4). The fighters were to meet different opponents on previous cards but both had to pull out with injuries. The odds on this fight have been fairly steady, with Bisping moving between -175/-185 and Stann at -145/+150. Bisping has taken a little more than 54 percent of the action.
Bet on UFC 152 now at Bovada Sportsbook. Raise Your Game.