Should ‘Wonderboy’ Be Favored Over Woodley at UFC 209?

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Their first fight ended in a majority draw, so of course they had to give us the sequel. UFC 209: Woodley vs. Thompson 2 goes down March 4 at the shiny new T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, and the Welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson should be a doozy. Woodley was the –175 favorite in the first fight at UFC 205, but YouWager Sportsbook has lines for the rematch, and now’s it’s Thompson checking in at –135 as we go to press.

This is interesting to say the least. When the scores came out at the end of their fight last November, one judge had Woodley ahead 48-47, and the other two judges had it 47-47. Then the UFC botched the announcement; Bruce Buffer said that Woodley had won the match by split decision, Dana White wrapped the belt around the champion’s waist, and Joe Rogan started interviewing the “winner” in the middle of the Octagon. Here’s the footage:

They figured out their mistake pretty quickly – at about the 50-second mark, you can see Buffer talking to White like something’s wrong, then they leave the Octagon and come back a minute later with the correct decision. Woodley would have retained the belt either way, so it wasn’t a Steve Harvey-level mistake, but check out the crowd reaction during the whole mess. The fans at Madison Square Garden were unhappy about Woodley being named the winner, and they burst into applause when the fight was declared a draw.

Bronx Cheer
It wasn’t because they knew the rulebook. And it wasn’t because “Wonderboy” was the clear winner. Woodley landed more strikes in this match with greater accuracy, and he secured the only takedown, cinching in a guillotine choke and nearly forcing Thompson to tap out in the fourth round. But the challenger definitely did enough to win the second and fifth rounds. The third was a toss-up, thus the draw.

That cheer you heard is why Thompson is the –135 favorite now at YouWager. Millions of people saw this fight; it was the co-main event behind Conor McGregor’s Lightweight title victory over Eddie Alvarez. Those people have their reasons to prefer “Wonderboy” over Woodley, and they’re putting their money where their collective mouth is. What are those reasons? Take a look at both men. You can probably figure it out.

Sharp Elbows
So let’s talk about the rematch. When you bet on the UFC, or anything else for that matter, it’s usually a good idea to go against the grain of public opinion. Review the YouWager Lines section for the rematch on the UFC odds board at Sportsbook Review: When Woodley opened as a slight +100 underdog for UFC 209, bettors jumped on that early line and drove it to –110. Then you can see the tide shifting toward the challenger.

We’ll probably see even more support for Thompson once we reach the weekend of the fight. As a general rule of thumb, “sharp” bettors like to get in on the action early and take advantage of soft lines, as they appear to have done in this case. Recreational bettors (often called “squares” in the business, although that’s an unfairly derogatory term) tend to wait until closer to bell time before they place their wagers.

And they usually bet on whichever fighter they want to win. When the wise guys bet, they’re making an investment; when the fans bet, they’re doing it for fun. It’s usually just a few dollars here and there, but when millions of fans join in, the market listens, and the UFC odds move toward their chosen pick. In other words, don’t be surprised if Woodley’s an even bigger underdog come March 4. Time your bets accordingly depending on which side you’re on.

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