The baddest man on the planet, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, returns to the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC 121 in Anaheim, Calif., for his third consecutive title defense — this time against unbeaten Cain Velasquez, who looks to become the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion in fight history.
We love Lesnar at Bodog because he drives the betting needle like no other MMA fighter and we thus are expecting huge numbers for this entire card, which also will be shown in movie theaters around the U.S.
Certainly MMA fans have to remember Lesnar’s last fight in July at UFC 116. There he fought another unbeaten contender in Shane Carwin. And it looked like Carwin was going to pull the upset as he dominated the first round with 78 power strikes to just two for Lesnar — including a crushing uppercut — and controlling Lesnar on the ground for 2:35. But then Lesnar showed why he’s a champion, turning the tables in Round 2 by scoring a takedown and then trapping Carwin in an arm-triangle choke that forced Carwin to tap out 2 minutes, 19 seconds into the round.
That was Lesnar’s first fight since a year layoff due to an intestinal disorder, and he says he’s in much better shape now because that illness is even further behind him.
“I feel I’m right on,” Lesnar said to reporters. “I’m as lean as I’ve ever been. Guys say they’ve had good camps, and I can go back and say every camp has been my best camp, but I really think so (this time).”
Certainly Velazquez (8-0) should provide quite a challenge as he has won seven of his eight fights via knockout or TKO, and he is younger and faster than the champ. Velasquez hasn’t fought since beating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by TKO at UFC 110 in February to earn his first title shot.
Currently at Bodog we have Lesnar at -155 and Velasquez at +125. Lesnar opened as a -145 favorite but a combination of heavy sharp action and significant parlay action moved the line all the way up to -175 before we started seeing buy back on Velasquez. In fact, in the last week the majority of the action has shifted to Velasquez, dropping him to his current number. Overall Bodog is getting great two-sided action, but the early lean on Lesnar still has the book exposed a bit on him. That could certainly change by Saturday.
Lesnar has never opened as a betting underdog at Bodog and is 4-1 as the favorite, with his only loss coming in his first fight with former heavyweight champion Frank Mir (+135) at UFC 81. Lesnar is probably the most popular fighter in the UFC among the bettors and has been involved in two of the three most-bet MMA matches at Bodog. This will be just the second time Velasquez has been an underdog in his short career; he was at -110 in that win over Nogueira.
The rest of the card is tremendous as well, including Jake Shields making his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann and Tito Ortiz, once one of UFC’s most popular and dominant fighters, looking to salvage his career against Matt Hamill, whom Ortiz coached on Season 3 of the “The Ultimate Fighter.” More than four years have passed since Ortiz, a former light-heavyweight champ, has tasted victory and he is currently a +140 underdog – the fourth fight in a row he’s a dog. How far has Ortiz fallen? Of his 23 UFC bouts, 16 were the main event. This fight is at best third on the UFC 121 card.
Hamill opened as a -150 favorite and immediately was bet up to -165. We then moved the line to -170 after the success of the favorites at UFC 119 and because parlays would be playing a significant factor in terms of favorites on future cards such as this one that were listed on Bodog at the same time as UFC 119. Currently the book is exposed on Hamill but we are seeing good two-sided action at the current number and believe the decision will not be significant by the time the fight starts. Hamill is 4-0 in the UFC as a betting favorite and was -145 when he beat Keith Jardine in “The Ultimate Fighter 11” finale.
By Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager