UFC 152 Betting Notes
September 21, 2012
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Jon Jones (16-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (21-9)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Jones -850, Belfort +550
After a long wait and a canceled event, Jon "Bones" Jones will finally look to defend his light heavyweight belt once again, facing Vitor Belfort as the marquee fight on UFC 152's main card Saturday night in Toronto.
Since taking the belt in UFC 128 with a TKO over Mauricio Rua, Jones has defended his title three times, beating Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. Belfort owned the UFC light heavyweight belt all the way back in 2004, but held it only for that one fight and has mostly fought as a middleweight since then. Last year he challenged the best in the game-Anderson Silva-for the middleweight title, only to be dispatched in 3:25. Ultimately, Belfort is taking one for the team at UFC here by accepting this fight on short notice, although he appears to have such a thin chance. That is reflected in the lines where he is a heavy, heavy underdog. But since his loss to Silva, he has won two fights in a row in the first round and perhaps he will benefit from the transition back to the light heavyweight division. And as dominant as Jones is, playing on him with such extremely short lines is discouraging when Belfort maintains the potential to end fights early with a KO or submission as he has done recently.
In Jones' past four fights, all in which he put his title on the line, he has displayed what makes him such an incredibly good fighter. He can find his opponents' weakness and capitalize, winning whichever way suits him best. He defeated Rua by TKO, Jackson and Machida by submission and outlasted Evans via unanimous decision. At 6-foot-4, he owns a four-inch height advantage over Belfort and is an incredible wrestler to go with that size. He's also 25 years old, a decade younger than Belfort. Jones' Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai complete his game, but his elite takedown defense is what truly makes opponents stand in awe of him. Still, as the chalkiest of chalk, play against here.
In his past two fights, "The Phenom" Belfort earned a KO against Yoshihiro Akiyama and a submission against Anthony Johnson. While neither of those fighters is close to the caliber of fighter Jones is, it was good to see the 35-year-old Belfort dispatch them with no problem. His top-notch Jiu Jitsu background gives him a chance for a submission at any point, while his boxing is powerful and the base of his game. If he can keep Jones at bay with solid strikes, anything can happen here.
Joseph Benavidez (16-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Benavidez -275, Johnson +215
In Saturday's flyweight tournament final, Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson will come to blows to determine UFC's inaugural champion in this division.
Unlike a lot of other fights on this card, UFC fans can bet on getting their money's worth in this one with the bout likely to take all 25 minutes. Benavidez, the winner of four consecutive fights, has won two of these via decision, one by TKO and one by submission. Prior to that he lost to Dominick Cruz in a split decision for the WEC bantamweight championship. Johnson has a draw and a win in his past two fights, both against Ian McCall. Prior to that, he also lost to Cruz for the UFC bantamweight title. Johnson's past five fights have all gone to the judges. Ultimately, these fighters appear to be nearly evenly matched as conditioning-based flyweights who have moved to this division after being unable to beat Cruz. Although Benavidez appears to be in slightly better shape, he is not nearly as sure of a thing to win as the lines suggest.
At 5-foot-4, Benavidez owns a slight one-inch height advantage over Johnson. The 28-year-old San Antonio native is also two years older younger than Johnson. Benavidez's two unanimous decision wins in his past four fights have been his most impressive ones because of the caliber of opponents he has conquered. In the first of them he outlasted Ian Loveland and in the second he outdueled Eddie Wineland. Benavidez has elite conditioning and that will be key for him as he attempts to avoid Johnson's regular takedown attempts. But if he fails just once, that could mean the end of the fight for this southpaw. Both of Benavidez's career losses have been to Dominick Cruz, as he is 16-0 versus everybody else.
Although "Mighty Mouse" Johnson earned a draw in his first fight with McCall, that was the toughest opponent either he or Benavidez has seen besides Cruz. Johnson displayed growth and maturity in the second of those bouts against McCall, notching a unanimous decision with a gaudy 90-57 edge in striking while only being taken down once, a big improvement from being taken down four times in the draw. His speed and conditioning rivals that of Benavidez, but with a slightly smaller frame, he is more interested in takedowns than his opponent. It will be tough to execute against such a good defender, but if he can land a couple, he could be the judges' favorite.
Michael Bisping (22-4) vs. Brian Stann (12-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Bisping -170, Stann +140
Notorious trash talker Michael Bisping will look to put his money where his mouth is as he faces Brian Stann in the middleweight bout on UFC 152's main card Saturday night in Toronto.
After winning four fights in a row against impressive competition, Bisping fell his last time out to Chael Sonnen in a bout that would have given him a shot at the middleweight belt. Notorious for his power, two of those four victories came via TKO. Stann is 4-1 since moving to the middleweight division in 2010, with that one loss coming as a second-round submission to Sonnen. And Bisping isn't the only one with power in this fight-all three of Stann's most recent wins have been knockouts. Both of these fighters have seen considerable success in UFC play with Bisping tallying a 10-4 record and Stann a 6-3 one. Ultimately, this may come down to how these two fighters have recovered from their injuries-Bisping was forced to withdraw from a previous bout with a knee injury and Stann had to do the same with a shoulder ailment. In the end, Stann has too much potential to end this fight early for the odds not to be closer.
Bisping gave Sonnen an incredible fight, with a controversial unanimous decision coming from the judges. In the fights prior to that, Bisping earned TKOs over Jason Miller and Jorge Rivera and decisions against Yoshihiro Akiyama and Dan Miller. Before that, he lost a decision to Wanderlei Silva. At 6-foot-2, he has an inch height advantage over Stann and is one of the best kickboxers in the sport. That explains why 14 of his 22 career wins have been knockouts.
Stann has won his past three fights via KO over Alessio Sakara, Jorge Santiago and Chris Leben. Before that he earned the lone submission of his career against Mike Massenzio in his middleweight debut. The former marine is also a kickboxer, but also mixes in some Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling tactics that makes his attack truly multi-dimensional. And with the power he has displayed as of late, he certainly has the potential to outfox Bisping.