Is it just me, or is Vitor Belfort once again being underrated by the public? The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion takes on former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC on FX 8, which takes place May 18 at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil. The betting odds at 5Dimes Sportsbook currently have Rockhold listed as a -125 favorite (bet $125 to win $100), while Belfort is currently a +105 underdog (bet $100 to win $105). To me, this line is off. Even if Rockhold is the “sharp” side in this fight, I’m shocked the public is on him. Remember, Nick Kalikas of MMA Oddsbreaker opened up Belfort as a -140 favorite, with Rockhold a +100 underdog. So it wasn’t the oddsmakers who have shifted the line in Rockhold’s favor, it’s been the public who have. And that’s not really surprising when you consider the betting odds for Belfort’s previous fights, because it seems as though the public doesn’t have a lot of respect for Belfort. Of Belfort’s last eight fights, Belfort was the favorite to win four times and he was the underdog four times. Of those eight bouts, Belfort won six of them, and the only two losses were against the No. 1 and No. 3 pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. But you have take a closer look at the numbers to realize just how undervalued Belfort has historically been. In Belfort’s fight against Michael Bisping, a fight which Vitor won via head kick KO, he closed at only -121, which was an absolute steal. Against Anthony Johnson, who missed weight by 12 pounds, Belfort closed at -125. Again, a steal. Against Yoshihiro Akiyama he closed at -320, but Belfort won the fight via first-round KO and probably should have been priced closer to 4-to-1 or even 5-to-1. Against Rich Franklin, Belfort closed at +125 and won by first-round KO, which was ridiculous value. Against Matt Lindland of all people, Belfort closed at +145 and won by first-round KO. Again, ridiculous value on him. Finally, against Terry Martin, Belfort closed at -280 and won by second-round KO. Considering Martin had no real path to victory for that fight, it’s hard to believe Belfort wasn’t at least -400. Those are his six wins in his last eight fights, and he was a favorite in four of them and an underdog in two of them. Like I mentioned earlier, Belfort was an underdog to Silva and Jones and lost both fights, but keep in mind he was a big underdog in both fights and he nearly submitted Jones with an armbar in the first round of their UFC 152 record despite moving up a weight class and taking the fight on very short notice. Sure, Belfort’s MMA record of 22-10 is nothing to write home about. But consider that all 10 of his career losses have come to some of the sport’s all-time greatest fighters: Silva, Jones, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture (two times), Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem (two times), Tito Ortiz, and Kazushi Sakuraba. And then consider that half of those losses came by decision. So, after everything I’ve mentioned so far, I personally find it very hard to believe Belfort is the underdog to Rockhold. After all, Belfort will have the home-town advantage, he will have the power advantage, and he’s allowed to use TRT which seems to have really given his game a boost. Yes, Rockhold will have the advantage in leg kicks, in height, in cardio, and in youth, but will it be enough to beat Belfort? It could be. But do those advantages really warrant him being a favorite over Belfort? I don’t think so. Belfort vs. Rockhold is a very intriguing matchup and MMA Oddsbreaker will have lots of coverage and analysis of the fight closer to the event. But I wanted to preview this fight now because I really do believe that at the current line of +105 there is value in Belfort and I don’t see him closing as the underdog, so if you plan on betting him, considering doing it soon because the lines may very well flip by fight day which, in my opinion, they should.
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