UFC 214 Preview: Jones squares off as big favourite vs. Cormier

Jon Jones tested positive for a banned substance. (John Locher/AP)

Believers in Jon Jones would be well-advised to see if there’s a price adjustment, so to speak, before the most anticipated title rematch in the UFC’s history.

Jones has dropped to a -260 favourite against +200 underdog Daniel Cormier in the betting matchup for their welterweight title bout at UFC 214, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. This bout that’s been held up for more than two years due to Jones’ doping ban in 2016 will top off a stacked main card at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The odds opened with Jones at -150 and Cormier coming back at +120 before the gap grew steadily, due in part to the memory of how Jones beat technical wrestler extraordinaire Cormier at his own game when they squared off in January 2015. (Jones won by unanimous decision.)

With Cormier now at more than 2-to-1, there might be a late rush of bets on the defending champion. That could improve the price on Jones, who appears to be in peak shape and certainly has the motivation to take back the strap he lost last year.

In the co-main event, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (-205) is a significant favourite against challenger Demian Maia (+165) on the UFC 214 odds. How one feels about the match depends on a belief over whether Maia’s wrestling – pound for pound, he is the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in the UFC and is capable of grinding out a decision or late submission – can negate Woodley’s athleticism.

Ultimately, Woodley has a good enough wrestling base to weather the slow-building storm from the Brazilian.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (-1100) is a major favourite against Tonya Evinger (+650) as she defends her women’s featherweight title. The odds are typical for a Cyborg fight, as her prices have ranged from -1000 to -3333 during her last 10 fights.

Five of Cyborg’s last seven fights have also ended in the first round and it would be a moral victory if the tenacious Evinger can stretch out the bout.

Robbie Lawler (-160) is slightly favoured against Donald Cerrone (+130) in a welterweight matchup. There is high potential for an all-out kickboxing match, but Lawler is capable of prevailing if he can throw punches from close range and take away the time and space Cerrone needs to use his Muay Thai kickboxing. It would not be an upset if Cerrone won.

The opener on the main card sees Jimi Manuwa (-190) take on Volkan Oezdemir (+150) in a light heavyweight bout. Going with the chalk and Manuwa’s experience is a justifiable play, given his knockout power (15 in 17 pro bouts) and his craftiness with picking his spots on when to attack. This is only the third UFC fight for Oezdemir, a brawling left-hander, and getting thrown in against Manuwa might prove to be a case of “too much, too soon.”

Since Jan. 1, 2017, underdogs have won 73 of 168 bouts in the UFC, or 43.4 per cent.