Some of Brazil’s most celebrated UFC fighters will be on display from start to finish at UFC 198, including the main event when current heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) defends his strap against Stipe Miocic (14-2). Werdum captured the interim title in Mexico by knocking out Mark Hunt with a flying knee in the second round of their bout, but it would take a second trip to Mexico for Werdum to become the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion.
In June of 2015, Werdum returned to Mexico for UFC 188, which would offer up an opportunity to leave no doubt who the official title belonged to. Prior to that main event most believed former UFC champion Cain Velasquez, who lost his belt to injury and not inside the Octagon, was the promotion’s top heavyweight.
Cain officially entered the cage as the betting favorite and the heavy home favorite that night in Mexico, but it was Werdum by way of submission who exited with both the official UFC heavyweight crown and the respect he thought had eluded him.
Even now, heading into Saturday’s title defense Werdum may not be getting the credit he deserves. Fighting in Brazil undoubtedly affords him the home crowd advantage and yet oddsmakers had only installed Werdum as a -170 favorite to successfully defend his UFC belt.
Even more surprising may be the fact that since the opening line was posted, the betting market has forced it to drop even lower, to -150. The take back on the challenger Miocic is +135 and speaking to several bookmakers, they all agreed the expectation is the betting public will most likely be backing the underdog, which will ultimately drive the odds down some more.
I think even at the current betting line the champion offers up plenty of value. I’ll head to the betting window with a ticket on the champ.
PICK: Fabricio Werdum
Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @Greek_Gambler, and at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].