It’s mind-blowing to see Jon Jones competing again so soon after his last title defense. For the last several years, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Jones appear just once yearly, but he’s now just days away from his second fight in just under two months.
Jones recently captured the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for the second time by defeating Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232. That win extended Jones’ winning streak to 14, and many fans will recall his only defeat being a disqualification in December 2009 for illegal downward elbows against Matt Hamill. Jones is widely considered to be the greatest mixed martial artist the world has ever seen, and the odds here against Anthony Smith reflect that.
Anthony Smith’s rise to title contention is somewhat sudden, but it really shouldn’t be a surprise. The light heavyweight division has always been particularly shallow, and Jones has already dominated other top contenders such as Gustafsson. But most notably, Smith has looked outstanding since moving up to the 205-pound division, defeating Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir all by way of stoppage. “Lionheart” is an incredibly dangerous individual and proved in his bout against Oezdemir that he deserves as much respect on the mat as he does while standing.
Now, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth having a dip on Anthony Smith at odds of 13/27.50+6506.506.50-0.15. Let’s find out.
Anthony Smith entering this fight at UFC 235 as a massive underdog sounds about right, but this is a guy who does have all the techniques and willpower to secure what would be regarded as one of the biggest upsets in martial arts history.
If Smith beats Jones, it should go down as an even bigger upset – because Jones is on the top of his game and does everything that Smith does, better.
For example, Smith’s best work comes while standing – particularly at close range where he can slice his opponent with elbows and pound them with knees to the midsection or head. This is a terrible range to fight Jon Jones, who has made a living out of beating opponents up from inside the clinch in the UFC. Smith may be great here, but Jones is truly one of the best.
As the fighting range grows larger – think middle to long-range – Jones becomes even more dangerous. Despite these two fighters standing at the same height of 6-foot-4, Jones has an incredible 8-inch reach advantage over his opponent. Jones typically uses this reach advantage brilliantly, but in somewhat creative ways. He’s not going to crush opponents with his long jab or straight cross, rather Jones will look to land those powerful strikes that are typically found at closer ranges. And if the two are standing far enough apart, Jones will target the lead leg with his signature oblique kick.
We also correctly predicted that Jones would showcase boxing improvements in his rematch against Alexander Gustafsson, and Jones will be looking to work his boxing again in this matchup with Smith.
Smith’s best opportunity to shock the world will be in the very first round. He’s finished 17 of his 44 fights inside the opening five minutes and he has only lasted the distance three times in his professional career. But he’s decreasing opportunity isn’t because of those stats alone, it’s mostly because Jones has an otherworldly ability to adapt his strategy and tactics mid-fight. As the fight progresses, Jones becomes smarter and stronger.
Sure, there’s a chance that Smith can pull off the upset – but that chance is marginal. The odds here are correct.
The best value play in this UFC 235 main event is to take Jones to win inside the distance.
Bet on Jon Jones to win inside the distance: 1/51.20-5100.20-5.100.20 at BetOnline
Add Jon Jones to win to your parlays/accumulators: 3/251.12-8300.12-8.300.12 at MyBookie
UFC 235: Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith
Saturday, March 2 – 11:30 pm (ET) / 3:30am (GMT)
Jake is a mixed martial arts reporter from Australia. At SBO.net, Jake uses his industry knowledge to uncover exceptional betting opportunities and share them with readers before the bookmakers can adjust their lines.
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