Bettors are not showing much faith in home-field advantage when it comes to the main event at UFC 198 on Saturday night. Action at William Hill sports book in Las Vegas has been overwhelmingly on the underdog Stipe Miocic as he looks to take the heavyweight belt from Fabricio Werdum. The card is set for Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, and the champion Werdum will have his countrymen solidly behind him.
William Hill opened Werdum the favorite at -155 odds, with Miocic getting +135 as the underdog. As of earlier this week, 76 percent of the wagers at the book had come in on Miocic, and the American had drawn 83 percent of the total dollars wagered.
That action has prompted an adjustment to the betting line. The day before the fight, the consensus odds in Vegas has Werdum -140/Miocic +160.
Werdum (20-5-1) is 38-years-old, but there’s no indication his skills are deteriorating. The big Brazilian is on a six-fight winning streak.
At 32, Miocic (14-2) is the fresher fighter on Saturday, and his only loss in his last six came via decision to Junior dos Santos.
Werdum vs. Miocic pick
Miocic must be respected, but Werdum checks more boxes from a handicapping perspective. Werdum is s better striker, and may even have the advantage if this fight turns into a grapple. Plus, Brazilians are just tough to beat in Brazil. The crowd will be raucous, and if this thing goes to a decision, there may be an instinctive lean in Werdum’s direction from the judges.
The -140 price on the favorite is a reasonable one to lay in this spot. The pick here is Werdum -140.
Earlier on the card, Cristiane Justino (15-1) makes her UFC debut against Leslie Smith (8-6-1), a bout that has lost pretty much any relevance, what with the fighting world unsure when and if we’ll see Ronda Rousey again.
Remember, when ‘Cyborg’ was thought to be the only woman who had any chance to beat Rousey? Well, that was before Rousey got knocked out by Holly Holm.
Anyway, Justino is a massive 16-to-1 favorite over Saturday night’s tomato can. Smith is priced at 10/1. This is as unbettable of a fight as you’ll ever see, but if you’re willing to take a small shot on a 10-to-1 underdog, who can blame you? After all, crazier things have happened.