As fight time approaches, but betting still allowed I wanted to take a look at the odds for tonight's main event for UFC on Fox 1.
As you can see from the lines below, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is the slight favorite. According to Best Fight Odds, though, late money appears to be coming in on the champion, so some of the lines are spreading further apart. Not to any dramatic degree, mind you, but spreading just the same.
If I may make one quick note, take a gander at the odds for tonight's boxing mega fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. By some oddsmakers' estimations, Pacquiao is a -1100 favorite, which means describing him as the overwhelming favorite would be euphemistic.
And if that doesn't raise your eyebrows, Timothy Bradley vs. Joel Casamayor, a fight featuring a legitimate talent against a thoroughly shopworn veteran from the undercard of Pacquiao vs. Marquez, places Bradley as more than a -2000 favorite.
I typically am hesitant to make and UFC vs. boxing comparisons, but it strikes me as odd that I can't think of a time when a UFC main event featured odds where one fighter was as heavily favored as Pacquiao is tonight. I certainly can't remember any point where any fighter has reached -2200, but anyone will tell you that's little more than cynical matchmaking.
I am certainly not here to count out Marquez. Many experts believe he won both of his two fights with Pacquiao. But very evidently, the odds in his favor are not good. And while we've certainly seen our share of blowouts in the UFC or main events that were very much one-sided, I'm legitimately having difficult recollecting any point in time where one fighter carried such grossly dominant odds into fight night in the UFC.
My best guess is there's a basic threshold of quality control the UFC exercises both bringing talent in and curating division as they develop title challengers. By the time someone earns a shot, like the winner of Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida, they'll have had to walk through fire to have done it. For non-title main events on Fight Nights or what have you, which are rarer still, there's usually carrot dangling in front of two contenders who desperately need a victory over the other to advance.
All of this generally underscores the idea that to advance in the UFC or to be a title holder, you have to fight the best opposition available, fight in, fight out. There are few +800 gimmies you'll walk into if you want to advance in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.