The betting public is all over 6-1 underdog Anthony Smith over heavy favorite Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 235 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
But sharp bettors are backing an underdog on the 11-fight undercard, banking on Pedro Munhoz (17-3-0) to upset Cody Garbrandt (11-2-0) in a bantamweight bout.
Wiseguys at CG Technology sportsbook bet Munhoz at plus 150 and plus 140 before the price dipped to plus 125 on Friday.
Sportsbooks need Jones
In the main event light heavyweight title fight, action on Smith (31-13-0) over Jones (23-1-0) has driven the price down from plus 750 at CG Technology to plus 575.
“We’ll need Jon Jones for quite a bit,” CG Technology sportsbook director Jason Simbal said. “They’re betting Smith as a big ’dog, and they’ll put Jones in money-line parlays.
“Nobody’s going to the window to bet 100 bucks to win 10 bucks (on Jones).”
Pedro Munhoz (+125) over Cody Garbrandt
“Munhoz is a very live ’dog here,” handicapper Lou Finocchiaro said. “Garbrandt is the larger man, but is coming off two really devastating losses to TJ Dillashaw. Garbrandt has to be considered in a fragile mental state.”
Garbrandt is the No. 2-ranked former champion gunning for another UFC title shot, while Munhoz is ranked No. 8 and looking to break into the top five.
“Munhoz started in the UFC as a submission specialist but has greatly improved his striking and, more importantly, his devastating attack with leg kicks,” said Finocchiaro (@GambLou). “Many are willing to give Garbrandt a pretty strong edge in power. But I’m not willing to give Garbrandt the advantage in speed and quickness, because he was exposed against Dillashaw.”
Tyron Woodley (-150) over Kamaru Usman
The co-main event welterweight title fight between Woodley (19-3-1) and Usman (14-1-0) has generated the most action at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
A Westgate bettor placed a $20,000 wager on Woodley at minus 165 more than a month ago, and the price since has climbed to minus 180.
“There’s a lot of money on Woodley here,” Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said. “We’ve taken a lot of sharp money on Usman.”
Woodley, the UFC champion, was as high as minus 180 at CG Technology, but the number since has dipped to minus 160. Woodley was at minus 150 on Friday at William Hill, and Finocchiaro said he’s a value play at the lower prices.
“I really try to uncover value in underdogs. That’s my first goal. That said, in the process of handicapping, the value appears where the value appears,” Finocchiaro said. “For whatever reason, people want to underestimate Woodley. Usman has youth and some size, but Woodley has a dynamic advantage in every capacity of mixed martial arts.
“Whether wrestling, standup, striking, takedown or defense, Woodley is better than Usman and has beaten better opponents than Usman has faced. Woodley has a chip on his shoulder, and I think he’s a value.”
Oddsmakers and bettors expect the fight to go the distance, as the total is 4½.
Johnny Walker (-145) over Misha Cirkunov
In the prelims, Finocchiaro likes Walker (16-3-0) to beat Cirkunov (14-4-0) in their light heavyweight match.
“The fight opened with Walker as a minus 215 favorite, and now you can get him for a third of the price,” he said. “Cirkunov is more of a wrestling and grappling-based fighter. He’s tough, but on his quick ascent he came across two fighters who were able to touch him on the chin and knock him out, exposing a lack of strike defense and a suspect chin.
“Walker is a taller, younger, longer, faster, quicker and much more violent fighter.”