(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)
Three months before their title fight at UFC 165, Jon Jones opened up as a massive -800 favorite against Alexander Gustafsson, who was slated as a +500 underdog. In other words, the oddsmakers felt that Jones/Gustafsson would be an even bigger squash match than Jones/Sonnen. Of course, this was back when everybody assumed that Bones could walk through the Swedish challenger with no trouble whatsoever. As it turned out, Gustafsson was the toughest test of Jones’s career, and might have stolen the belt if he hadn’t started to fade in the championship rounds.
We’re still not certain when Jones and Gustafsson will meet up for an encore performance, but that shouldn’t stop you from betting on the hypothetical fight. The opening line for Jones vs. Gustafsson 2 was recently released, establishing Jones as a still-hefty -400 favorite, compared to a +300 mark for Gustafsson. Since then, the line has slightly widened out, suggesting that the early money is coming in on Jones. (i.e., the oddsmakers are making Jones less profitable and Gustafsson more profitable, in an attempt to lure more wagers in Gustafsson’s direction.)
And why wouldn’t people be betting on Jones? Gustafsson may have made the champ look vulnerable during their five-round war, but the reality is that Gustafsson still wasn’t able to come away with a victory, despite putting in the greatest performance of his career. So if you were thinking of laying some cash on Gus in the rematch, here’s what you need to ask yourself: Does it really makes sense to wager on Gustafsson now that he’s significantly less profitable than he was for the first fight? Do you expect Gustafsson to do even better against Jones the second time? Really? Why?
In my opinion, the only logical reason for betting on Gustafsson in the rematch is that the fight could easily turn into another evenly-matched five-round war of attrition — and when a fight like that goes to the judges, you might as well be flipping a coin.