Bones was listed as a -180 favorite less than two weeks ago. Now, just a day before the big fight, the champ has dropped to a -167 favorite with steady action coming in on Cormier.
Considering Jones, just 27 years old, has already successfully defended his title seven times, this might be a little surprising to some MMA bettors. He’s disposed of every opponent he’s faced since a ridiculous disqualification in 2009 and outside of a decision victory over Alexander Gustafsson has rarely been tested in the octagon.
However, Jones has never faced a fighter like Daniel Cormier either. Cormier is an extremely polished wrestler with knockout power. He is 15-0 in his career MMA bouts and is 4-0 in the UFC with notable wins over Dan Henderson, Roy Nelson and Frank Mir. In theory, he could neutralize Jones’ unpredictable striking by taking him down and working on the mat. Cormier also benefits from training with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
But it’s hard not to wonder whether some bettors are being swayed by the UFC’s marketing again. While their prefight antics reek of hyping the bout to get bigger pay-per-view numbers, there definitely seems to be some between Jones and Cormier. Of course, that makes for a better storyline and when you have two fighters dislike each other, somebody has to be the bad guy. In this case, the UFC decided Jon Jones would play the villain while Cormier gets to wear the white hat.
When it comes to skills in the cage though, Jones remains in a class of his own. Jones’ wingspan, speed and footwork will make it difficult for Cormier, who stands just 5-foot-11 (generously), to get inside. And if he can’t get inside, Jones very well could put on another electric performance that’s punctuated by knees, kicks, elbows and fists flying at Cormier from various angles.
There’s no doubt Cormier may be the toughest test Jones has faced yet and the underdog certainly has a shot at stealing the strap, but a smarter wager is that Jones will try outlast Cormier. This will be the first time the challenger has fought a five-round fight and expect Jones to try to take this one the distance if the early fireworks don’t have someone on their back.
My best bet is a five-round decision for Jones at +150.