Category: UFC 118
UFC 118 Odds & Betting Preview
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager
The final big UFC event before college football takes over Saturdays is this weekend’s UFC 118 in Boston headlined by two bouts: a rematch between B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar and an intriguing fight between mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture and former three-division boxing champion James Toney in his MMA debut.
Edgar, nicknamed “The Answer,” pulled off a stunning upset of Penn via unanimous decision at UFC 112 back on April 10. Yet here he is as the underdog again despite being on a four-fight winning streak. Penn, considered the greatest lightweight of all-time by many, not only lost his title back in April, but it was the first time he'd been beaten in a fight at 155 pounds since 2002.
“I've been the underdog in my last three or four fights and I seem to perform well in this position, so I don't mind it at all," Edgar said to reporters.
In the first Penn-Edgar bout, the line opened at -800 and closed at a whopping -1150 for Penn; it was the most favored Penn had been in his career (he was never an underdog in a UFC title defense fight). This bout opened with Penn as the -340 favorite and quickly jumped to -365 thanks to a combination of heavy betting on Penn and heavy parlay action. But the line has now dropped to -325 in part because upsets last weekend in a Strikeforce event both Muhammed Lawal (-575) and Bobby Lashley (-800) were upset, thus busting a lot of parlays with Penn. Overall, “The Prodigy” is getting about 68 percent of the handle just on the line with Edgar (currently +250).
Other than against Penn, Edgar has only been an underdog once in his UFC career (UFC 98 vs. Sean Sherk, a unanimous decision victory for Edgar). Obviously it’s quite rare for a champion to get plus-money odds in a title bout as Edgar is here. The last time a champion was as big an underdog was in April in a Strikeforce event in Nashville when Jake Shields (+325) defended his title against Dan Henderson (-500), with Shields winning a unanimous decision.
This time around Penn (15-6-1) says he is preparing for Edgar (12-1) to try and take him down and not have a standup battle like the first fight. That bout was only the third time an opponent has taken Penn a full five rounds.
“I am ready for all areas in this thing,” Penn said. “Whatever Frankie tries to bring like any other fighter, I am going to be better, I don’t want to throw out my game plan or exactly what I am going to do. I am definitely going to be ready for whatever happens.”
Penn and Couture have one thing in common: They are the only two UFC fighters to win titles in two weight classes (lightweight and welterweight for Penn, heavyweight and light heavyweight for Couture). Couture is currently a big -575 favorite against Toney, a former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion in the ring. But the boxing fans out there seem to have confidence in Toney (+350), as he is currently getting about 56 percent of the lean.
Couture (15-7 in UFC) hasn’t fought since February’s submission victory over Mark Coleman at UFC 109 and is 4-2 since unretiring. Needless to say, Couture will try to get Toney, an obviously superior and powerful puncher, on the ground as quickly as possible. UFC president Dana White has predicted a first-round finish from Couture. But remember that former heavyweight boxing champion Ray Mercer knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at Adrenaline III last year. Mercer, in his official MMA debut, won that fight in only nine seconds.
The Couture-Toney bout is drawing big action so far as no doubt MMA and boxing fans are frothing to see which sport’s athlete is superior. The opening line has pretty much stayed put because of two-sided action.