Vitor Belfort will take to the Octagon on Sept. 22 in Toronto with what seems like the longest of shots to beat Jon Jones.
The line says Jones is a 10-to-1 favourite meaning if you put $100 down, you win just $10. If Belfort wins, it’s $600.
That line doesn’t give the Brazilian challenger much of a chance to score the upset, an assessment a strong majority of the MMA community would agree with.
But with such a large underdog one starts to look for any plausible reason to lay some money down on him and hit the proverbial jackpot.
In studying the number, there is one stat that could give fans a little confidence.
Here’s the list of UFC main events in 2012 that have featured an American facing an international opponent. See if you can spot a trend.
UFC 142 – Jan. 14
Jose Aldo (Brazil) def. Chad Mendes (USA)
UFC on Fuel TV 3 – May 15
Chan Sung Jung (South Korea) def. Dustin Poirier (USA)
UFC 146 – May 26
Junior dos Santos (Brazil) def. Frank Mir (USA)
Ultimate Fighter Finale – June 1
Martin Kampmann (Denmark) def. Jake Ellenberger (USA)
UFC 147 – June 23
Rich Franklin (USA) def. Wanderlei Silva (Brazil)
UFC 148 – July 7
Anderson Silva (Brazil) def. Chael Sonnen (USA)
UFC 149 – July 21
Renan Barao (Brazil) def. Urijah Faber (USA)
UFC on Fox 4 – Aug. 4
Mauricio (Shogun) Rua (Brazil) def. Brandon Vera (USA)
Only one American (Franklin) has been victorious against fighters from outside the country in main events this year, an overall record of 1-7.
Does this mean the tables are turned and Jones is actually the underdog? Hardly. But there are lessons to be learned from the record.
Of the eight fights we’re looking at, three have taken place outside of the United States.
Aldo knocked out Mendes in his native Brazil and fellow countryman Barao defeated Faber on neutral grounds in Calgary. And the third fight? America’s lone victory when Franklin beat Silva in the heart of hostile territory in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
A lot of times when an American travels to a faraway nation the spotlight is shone on how they plan on adjusting to their surroundings.
Different food, time zones and fans that chant death threats (at least in Brazil) are all a part of the gig. Those are understandable concerns to prepare for, but they’re the same ones faced by international fighters who travel to the USA and they haven’t struggled.
Jones and Belfort meet in Toronto, however, and that really should constitute home field advantage for the New Yorker. As we’ve come to see though, an Octagon is still an Octagon wherever you set it up.
Also, never have non-American fighters been so prominent at the top-tier of the UFC as five of the nine current champions hail from outside stateside.
With planned international expansion into foreign markets like China and India in the near future, don’t expect that to change anytime soon. More markets mean more attention, and that means more talent.
The Americans have a chance to take the power back.
Including UFC 152, the next four Pay-Per-View headliners will feature Americans against international competition as non-American title holders Jose Aldo, Georges St-Pierre and Junior dos Santos defend against Frankie Edgar, Carlos Condit and Cain Velasquez, respectively, at UFC 153, 154 and 155.
It all starts with Jones and Belfort later this month. It’d be unfair to only throw the one statistic out when there are a lot of numbers going in Jones’s favour heading into the fight.
- Jones is 16-1, Belfort 21-9.
- Jones has defended the light heavyweight title successfully three times and beaten four former champions in just over a year, Belfort’s last win at 205 pounds came over four years ago.
- Jones is six-foot-four, Belfort six-foot even. Jones’s reach is 84.5 inches, Belfort’s 74.
- The 25-year-old superstar Jones has momentum going for him, and he deserves to be the monster favourite based on where both fighters are in their careers.
But if you’re feeling a little risky and need a reason to take a flier on Belfort just remember that 1-7.