What are the odds: UFC 235


Igor Vidyashev/Zuma Press/TNS

Light Heavyweight Jon Jones retains his title against Swedish fighter Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in September 2013.

By Colin Martin, Staff Writer

Last week was another great weekend of NBA betting, as I went 4-2 in my picks. My gut feeling of San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan playing well in his return to Toronto was spot-on. The Spurs lost the close game 120-117, but they covered the spread on the road and the over was never really in question. My season record now sits at 27-18, and I’m ready for a new gambling challenge this weekend.

With the NBA season going on, it’s sometimes easy to forget about other great betting events. I wasn’t going to miss out on talking about one of the most exciting UFC events this Saturday in Las Vegas. UFC 235 has one of the best fight lineups in a long time, with both the welterweight and light heavyweight bouts having appeal. Fans are excited to see two of the greatest fighters — Jon Jones and Tyron Woodley — defend their belts. We’ll see if they can both come out victorious in Las Vegas and in our picks this week.

Never bet before? The money line indicates the odds based on $1. A “minus” (-) preceding the number indicates a favorite. A “plus” (+) preceding the number indicates an underdog.

UFC 235 Light Heavyweight Title

Champion: Jon Jones -800

Challenger: Anthony Smith +500

Analysis: One of the most prolific fighters in UFC history, Jon Jones is looking to defend his light heavyweight championship belt and extend his winning streak to 16 straight fights. Jones said at UFC 235 media day that if he were to win four fights in 2019, including this title fight, then he would be the greatest UFC fighter of all time.

His extreme confidence has always been an advantage, but he also has a slippery past with failing drug tests right around fight time. Jones has failed three separate performance-enhancing drug tests in his career and faced immediate suspension each time. The most recent suspension took place from his July 29, 2017, fight against Daniel Cormier, which Jones won by knockout in the third round. The result of the fight was later overturned to a no-contest because Jones tested positive for anabolic steroids. He made his return on Dec. 29, 2018, by beating Alexander Gustafsson for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 232. Jones won by technical knockout in the third round to continue his win streak. His record is now 23-1 and he seems determined to become the greatest UFC fighter ever after Saturday night’s title fight.

The challenger, Anthony Smith, comes in to this fight at 31-13, and his experience in the octagon may be what’s needed to upset Jones. Smith is 30 years old, actually one year younger than Jones, and he is the exact same height and weight as his opponent, at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. But Smith’s disadvantage is clear when you look at the two fighters’ reaches. Jones has an 84.5-inch arm length compared to Smith’s 76-inch reach. It will be very difficult for Smith to defend against Jones’ arm length, which allows for him to throw punches while standing much farther away. Smith has won 17 of his 31 fights by knockout, and his only chance is to catch Jones by surprise and end the fight early.

Bet: Jon Jones will win by knockout.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | Staff Graphic Artist
Projected outcome of the UFC 235 Light Heavyweight Title.

UFC 235 Welterweight Title

Champion: Tyron Woodley -150

Challenger: Kamaru Usman +120

Analysis: There is usually only one title fight per night in UFC events, but UFC 235 has two co-main events, including the Lightweight Championship and the Welterweight Championship. Tyron Woodley, 36 years old, comes into this title fight with a 19-3-1 record and riding a seven-fight unbeaten streak. Woodley is known for ending fights early, with seven knockouts and five wins by submission. He hasn’t lost a fight since UFC 174 in 2014 to Rory MacDonald, and that was by decision. Woodley is a wrestling king and loves to get his opponents on the floor. His experience and style of fighting could easily allow him to defend the Welterweight crown Saturday night.

But Woodley’s competition is undefeated in his brief UFC career. Kamaru Usman is 14-1 overall and has nine straight UFC wins since making his debut in 2015. Unlike Woodley, Usman is used to letting the judges decide his fights, as seven of his nine wins came by decision. Like Woodley, he loves to take his opponents to the ground and notably averages 4.47 takedowns per 15 minutes (UFC fights consist of five rounds of five minutes each). He lacks the knockout ability that Woodley possesses, but his endurance may be enough to have this fight go all five rounds. Usman comes into the fight with a 76-inch reach, 2 inches longer than Woodley’s, and is 3 inches taller. Along with being physically bigger, Usman is only 31-years-old, and sometimes the younger fighter has a little more energy to pull the upset.

Bet: Kamaru Usman upsets Woodley by decision.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | Staff Graphic Artist
Projected outcome of the UFC 235 Welterweight Title.

UFC 235 Welterweight fight

Favorite: Ben Askren -286

Underdog: Robbie Lawler +220

Analysis: It’s rare that someone making their UFC debut would come into the fight being a heavy favorite, but Ben Askren isn’t your usual UFC rookie. In a shocking move, the UFC traded flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to the Singapore ONE Championship league for Ben Askren. Askren, 34 years old, is a four-time All-American wrestler from the University of Missouri, where he won two national titles. He is a perfect 18-0 in professional MMA fights, but has not fought since announcing his retirement from MMA in 2017. He has six technical knockout wins and five submission wins, showing an ability to end fights early.  

Askren will have a tough UFC debut against veteran Robbie Lawler. Lawler, 36 years old, is 28-12 in his UFC career, and looking to come back from a torn ACL in December 2017. Twenty of Lawler’s 28 victories have been by knockout and he very well could win this fight the same way. His punching endurance is unmatched, and he knows how to eat punches and still get his own off in time — a talent that allows him to last long in the octagon. Lawler’s experience in the UFC gives him a huge advantage against Askren, and sometimes that’s all a fighter needs to claim victory. Coming off of an ACL tear at his age is tough, but if someone is going to come back immediately and win, it’s Robbie Lawler.

Bet: Robbie Lawler wins by knockout.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | Staff Graphic Artist
Projected outcome of the UFC 235 Welterweight Fight.