UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has opened as an 8-to-1 favorite over his next challenger, Alexander Gustafsson, who is a 5-to-1 underdog.
Veteran oddsmaker Joey Oddessa on Thursday confirmed the opening line with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Jones (18-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) will put his title on the line against Gustafsson (14-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) this fall at UFC 165, UFC President Dana White announced following a media event for Saturday’s UFC 161 in Winnipeg. UFC 165 will take place Sept. 21 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
At -800 to Gustafsson’s +500, the line represents the second-highest opening number for a Jones title defense. He opened as high as -925 for his fight against Vitor Belfort this past September. Against Chael Sonnen in April at UFC 159, he opened -600 before climbing as high as -1100 at fight time. He won handily with a first-round TKO.
Oddessa said even at -800, the line could be low.
“It’s one of those ‘I can’t make the price high enough bouts,’” said Oddessa, who can be found at @mmaodds on Twitter. “On fight night, there won’t be a betting favorites parlay that doesn’t include Jon Jones.”
Gustafsson has not fought since a December unanimous decision victory over Mauricio Rua at UFC on FOX 5 that officially put him into title contention. But an April fight that was supposed to take place against Gegard Mousasi in his home country of Sweden was scrapped when Gustafsson was cut in training the week before the fight and the governing commission ruled him out.
Oddessa said the price on Gustafsson will be tempting for underdog bettors – but cautioned against it.
“Math and stats guys will be searching to rationalize finding value in the high-priced underdog in a title bout, but there’s no value in a guy that won’t win,” Oddessa said. “If anything, the price is low. Alexander Gustafsson can’t compete with Jon Jones anywhere the fight goes.”
Gustafsson has not lost since his second UFC fight, a first-round anaconda choke submission to Phil Davis. Since then, he’s won six straight with the first four coming by stoppage.
For the latest on UFC 165, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Jon Jones)