Mixed martial arts fans and sports bettors alike will witness a rare event at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia Saturday night.The odds for UFC 127 have B.J. Penn entering the octagon as an underdog
for the first time in two years and only the second time since 2006. Penn is listed as high as +180 in his bout against perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch.
“Fitch is the bigger guy,” Rob Akers, assistant sportsbook director and head MMA oddsmaker for The Venetian and Lagasse’s Stadium in Las Vegas, told Covers. “He has a wrestling background and good cardio, which are usually areas Penn struggles with. Those are the three points that influenced this line.”
Akers actually opened the UFC 127 odds
with Fitch as a -160 favorite, which was significantly lower than most offshore books that currently list -200 as the going rate, and saw a steady flood of money come in on him.
He’s since adjusted the number to -190 for Fitch and isn’t worried at all about attracting Penn bettors. They’ll arrive steadily in the hours before the fight.
“Of course, you’re going to see the early action is coming in from the sharp guys,” Akers said. “Especially after his last win against Matt Hughes coming in 21 seconds and Hughes being a wrestler too, we’ll get a lot of public Penn money in the next few days leading up to the fight.”
Contrary to popular belief, the public isn’t always wrong. In the case of UFC 127, they’re on the side with the most value.
Consider that the last time Penn was an underdog came at UFC 94 when he was +130 against Georges St-Pierre, a fight he ultimately lost via TKO in the second round. The only time Penn was a bigger underdog in the UFC than he is this weekend came in 2006. Penn took a welterweight title fight on late notice as a replacement against Matt Hughes and was a +190 underdog.
The argument for Fitch revolves mostly around his size advantage in the 170-pound division. Penn has spent the majority of his career and found the most success in the 155-pound class.
The weight, however, didn’t seem to play a factor in Penn’s return to welterweight at UFC 123 last Novemember when he knocked out Hughes. He then recruited Hughes to train with him in preparation for the bout against Fitch.
“I think it’s B.J.’s fight to lose,” Akers said. “He’s done the right thing as far as training. He’s trained with Matt Hughes, who at this point is a poor man’s version of Jon Fitch.”
To use his size effectively and get the fight where he wants it to be, Fitch will have to get Penn down to the ground. Penn has always been known for excellent takedown defense.
As impressive as Fitch’s 13-1 mark in the UFC is, a glance at his record reveals he has never beaten someone of Penn’s caliber. No, Mike Pierce and Ben Saunders, two of Fitch’s last three victims, don’t count.
Look for Penn by TKO.
“Fitch will win if it goes to decision,” Akers said. “That’s the thing with this fight, I think we should be able to get a good feel on how it’s going to go in the first 2:30. If Fitch takes him down early, it’s going to be a long night for Penn.”UFC 127 picks:B.J. Penn (+180) vs. Jon Fitch (-200)Pick:
Penn +180Michael Bisping (-320) vs. Jorge Rivera (+240)Pick:
Bisping -320George Sotiropoulos (-330) vs. Dennis Siver (+250)Pick:
Chris Lytle (-320) vs. Brian Ebersole (+240)Pick:
Kyle Noke (-225) vs. Chris Camozzi (+185)Pick:
Camozzi +185Case Keefer covers MMA, sports betting, poker and more at the
Las Vegas Sun.