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UFC 152 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Will Jon Jones live up to his status as an 8-to-1 favorite over Vitor Belfort?

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Justin M. Bowen

Vitor Belfort prepares to enter the octagon to face Anderson Silva for their middleweight title bout at UFC 126 Saturday, February 5, 2011 at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva won with a knock out in the first round.

Jon Jones enters Saturday’s fight against Vitor Belfort as the second largest favorite in the history of UFC main events.

The only fighter oddsmakers favored more was welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre ahead of his UFC 69 title defense against Matt Serra five years ago. Everyone knows what happened there.

Serra blitzed St. Pierre and stunned the champion with a first-round TKO victory. Does anyone think Jones could meet the same fate against Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto? The betting market and Las Vegas Sun picks panel seem to disagree.

Bettors have shown some faith in “The Phenom," betting him down to a +600 (risking $1 to win $6) underdog after opening near +800 in most sports books. Jones comes back at -800 (risking $8 to win $1) at William Hill sports books.

None of the Sun’s six prognosticators were bold enough to take Belfort in the upset.

Check below for picks on the entire card — which airs on pay-per-view at 7 following a preliminary card on FX and facebook.com — from Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (68-52 year-to-date), ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (73-47), KSNV’s Kevin West (73-47), ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (72-48) and Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (62-58). Betting odds for every fight are provided by William Hill sports books.

Vitor Belfort

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 10-5
  • MMA record 21-9
  • Out of:Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: +600

Jon Jones

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’4''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 10-1
  • MMA record 16-1
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M
  • Betting line: -800

Light Heavyweight Championship Bout

Main Event

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Anthony Johnson at UFC 142.

Punch list: Eight years have passed since Belfort held the UFC light heavyweight championship. It’s been five years since he even fought at 205 pounds. He’ll get quite the welcome back against one of the two best fighters in the world. The other is Anderson Silva, the only man to beat Belfort in the last five years.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Jones

Cofield: Jones

Last fight: Beat Rashad Evans by unanimous decision at UFC 145.

Punch list: It’s difficult to keep track of everything that’s gone down since Jones left stepped in the octagon. DUI arrest. Nike endorsement. UFC 151 cancelation. Those are just the bullet points at the top of the presentation. “Bones” will need to show he can compartmentalize like never before and shield away the plethora of outside distractions at UFC 152.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jones

Brewer: Jones

Okamoto: Jones

Demetrious Johnson

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’3”
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 3-1-1
  • MMA record 15-2-1
  • Out of: Kirkland, Wash.
  • Betting line: +240

Joseph Benavidez

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’4''
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 16-2
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: -280

Inaugural Flyweight Championship Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Ian McCall at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: “Mighty Mouse” had to work extremely hard to reach this point — twice as hard as he expected. After a draw against McCall in the flyweight tournament semifinal, the two were forced to rematch to see who received the pairing with Benavidez. Johnson, who holds the bantamweight record for highest average of takedowns, proved he was able to adapt more in taking a clear-cut decision in the second fight.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Benavidez

Cofield: Benavidez

Last fight: Knocked out Yasuhiro Urushitani at UFC on FX 2.

Punch list: Benavidez has visualized the moment Dana White straps the new championship belt around his waist for more than a year. That type of motivation is invaluable, but “JoeJitsu” needs to be careful not to get ahead of himself. The Team Alpha Male mainstay said he wanted to become a champion even worse after watching two teammates, Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, come up short in title fights earlier this year.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Benavidez

Brewer: Benavidez

Okamoto: Benavidez

Brian Stann

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 12-4
  • Out of: Atlanta
  • Betting line: +155

Michael Bisping

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 12-4
  • MMA record 22-4
  • Out of: Orange County, Calif.
  • Betting line: -175

Middleweight Bout

Featured Fight

Last fight: Knocked out Alessio Sakara in the first round at UFC on FUEL TV 2.

Punch list: Stann figured he would have start at the bottom and work his way back up after pulling out of a bout with Hector Lombard to injury. He was stunned and surprised when the UFC offered Bisping in his first fight back. It’s an opportunity to beat a higher-ranked team to re-establish his name at the top of the division.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Bisping

Cofield: Bisping

Last fight: Lost to Chael Sonnen by unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 2.

Punch list: Bisping hasn’t kept silent on his belief that a title shot should be up for grabs in this fight. It doesn’t make much sense considering Bisping is coming off of a loss and Stann is only one win removed from a defeat of his own. Both those setbacks came to the same man in Sonnen, but Bisping was competitive with him while Stann put up little resistance.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Bisping

Brewer: Bisping

Okamoto: Bisping

Roger Hollett

  • Age: 21
  • Height: 5’10''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 13-3
  • Out of: Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Betting line: +300

Matt Hamill

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 9-4
  • MMA record 10-4
  • Out of: Utica, N.Y.
  • Betting line: -360

Light Heavyweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Split-decision win over John Hawk at Bellator 57.

Punch list: A contract dispute with Bellator temporarily forced the Canadian out of this bout. It was later resolved and Hollett has a golden chance to make a name for himself in his first UFC bout. Grappling is his strong-suit, though his current five-fight win streak has seen him win with two decisions, two submissions and one TKO.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Hamill

Cofield: Hamill

Last fight: Second-round TKO loss against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 133.

Punch list: “The Hammer” is back. Thirteen months after losing to Gustafsson, one of the most inspiring fighters of all-time decided to break out of his retirement. Hamill, of course, was born deaf but never let the handicap slow him down. He had won five straight fights — though one was the disqualification victory over Jon Jones — before dropping two straight and walking away.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Hollett

Brewer: Hamill

Okamoto: Hamill

Charles Oliveira

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 144
  • UFC record 4-2
  • MMA record 15-2
  • Out of: Houston
  • Betting line: -240

Cub Swanson

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 17-5
  • Out of: Palm Springs, Calif.
  • Betting line: +200

Featherweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Second-round submission victory over Jonathan Brookins at “The Ultimate Fighter Live” finale.

Punch list: The Brazilian has won both of his fights at featherweight in impressive fashion with two rarely-used submissions — anaconda choke and calf slicer. A victory like that in Toronto would have to put Oliveira near a title shot in the division. Swanson will want to avoid going to the ground.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Swanson

Cofield: Oliveira

Last fight: Second-round TKO victory over Ross Pearson at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: His striking power has reached its peak, as evidenced by two straight second-round TKO victories. He won Knockout of the Night for the Pearson finish and could have easily gotten the same bonus for his Sportscenter-aired putout of George Roop. Swanson’s exciting style is making him one of the can’t-miss fighters in the UFC.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Oliveira

Brewer: Oliveira

Okamoto: Swanson

Vinny Magalhaes

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 0-2
  • MMA record 9-5
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +165

Igor Pokrajac

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 4-3
  • MMA record 25-8
  • Out of: Zagreb, Croatia
  • Betting line: -185

Light Heavyweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Third-round TKO win against Mikhail Zayats at M-1 Challenge 27.

Punch list: The UFC cut Magalhaes after he finished as the runner-up on “The Ultimate Fighter” 8 and lost to Eliot Marshall in his first fight outside of the show. He’s used the last three years to improve outside the octagon, going 7-1, and returns with significantly higher expectations.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Magalhaes

Cofield: Magalhaes

Last fight: Beat Fabio Maldonaldo by unanimous decision at UFC on FUEL TV 3.

Punch list: As far as fighters on three-bout winning streaks, Pokrajac may come in as the most improbable. No one talks about, or perhaps even realizes, the tear Pokrajac has been on since 2011. The lack of attention may have to do with his last outing, a controversial win in a fight many scored for Maldonaldo.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Magalhaes

Brewer: Pokrajac

Okamoto: Magalhaes

Evan Dunham

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 6-2
  • MMA record 13-2
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line:-185

T.J. Grant

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 5-3
  • MMA record 18-5
  • Out of: Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
  • Betting line: +165

Lightweight Bout

FX prelim

Last fight: Second-round TKO win against Nik Lentz at UFC on FOX 2.

Punch list: Like Grant, Dunham has missed extended time because of an assortment of injuries. No one doubts that he’s talented enough to make a run in the division, but it’s difficult to string together momentum with inactivity. He most recently had to pull out of a fight with Edson Barboza at UFC 146.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Dunham

Cofield: Dunham

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Carlo Prater at UFC on FUEL TV 3.

Punch list: This is only the habitually injured Grant’s third fight since the beginning of 2011. At least both the previous bouts were wins, against Prater and Shane Roller. Few 155-pound fighters are more submission savvy than Grant, as 13 of his 18 career wins have come by submission.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Dunham

Brewer: Dunham

Okamoto: Dunham

Lance Benoist

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 6-1
  • Out of: St. Louis, Mo.
  • Betting line: -155

Sean Pierson

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 12-6
  • Out of: Toronto
  • Betting line: +135

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Split-decision loss to Seth Baczynski at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: Well, he can no longer have the reputation as an undefeated grappler. The close loss to Baczynski was the first setback of Benoist’s career, but there’s still promise at a young age as evidenced by the bout before when he beat Matt Riddle and earned a Fight of the Night bonus.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Pierson

Cofield: Pierson

Last fight: Defeated Jake Hecht by unanimous decision at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: The former Toronto police officer effectively saved his career by upsetting Hecht. After a two-fight losing streak, he was desperate for a win to keep his job with the UFC. Now that the pressure is off he may let loose with his striking, which is what got him in the octagon to begin with.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Benoist

Brewer: Benoist

Okamoto: Benoist

Marcus Brimage

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’4”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 5-1
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: +330

Jimy Hettes

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 10-0
  • Out of: Swoyersville, Penn.
  • Betting line: -400

Featherweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Beat Maximo Blanco by split decsion at UFC 145.

Punch list: At this point, Brimage probably laughs off his status as a high-priced underdog. He’s overcome the odds in each of his first two UFC fights already. “The Bama Beast” has continued to progress since graduating from “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 by joining American Top Team in South Florida.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Hettes

Cofield: Hettes

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Nam Phan at UFC 141.

Punch list: Few featherweights are more highly touted than Hettes, who seems to have developed a technical striking game to go with his grappling background. Hettes turned doubters into believers by dismantling veteran Nam Phan nine months ago and nearly finishing the durable opponent multiple times.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Hettes

Brewer: Hettes

Okamoto: Brimage

Simeon Thoresen

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 17-2-1
  • Out of: Oslo, Norway
  • Betting line: +120

Seth Baczynski

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 171
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 16-6
  • Out of: Apache Junction, Ariz.
  • Betting line: -140

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Submitted Besam Yousef in the second round at UFC on FUEL TV 2.

Punch list: The UFC’s first Norwegian fighter looks to move from novelty to prospect in Toronto. His last five wins have come by rear-naked choke, but he does have a tendency to get hit. “The Grin” has 15 wins by submission.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Baczynski

Cofield: Baczynski

Last fight: Beat Lance Benoist by split decision at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: Everything has gone Baczynski’s way upon his return to the UFC in late 2011. He’s fought often and successfully, notching three victories in nine months. The drop from middleweight to welterweight seems to have suited him well, as a natural strength advantage is evident against 170-pound fighters.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Baczynski

Brewer: Thoresen

Okamoto: Baczynski

Mitch Gagnon

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 10-2
  • Out of: Sudbury, Ontario
  • Betting line: +175

Walel Watson

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 9-4
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: -200

Bantamweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Third-round submission loss to Bryan Caraway at UFC 149.

Punch list: The bout with Caraway wasn’t a bad way to start Gagnon’s UFC career, as he earned a $65,000 Fight of the Night bonus. The newcomer caught Caraway off guard with his striking early but faded as the fight went on. Gagnon will likely look to take Watson to the ground and win with his grappling.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Gagnon

Cofield: Watson

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC on FUEL TV 1.

Punch list: Watson looks fluid and at ease on his feet. By contrast, he appears lost and uncomfortable on the ground. He fought on the last Toronto card, UFC 140, and lost a controversial split decision to Yves Jabouin that he still hasn’t gotten over. To avoid a similar fate in the future, “The Gazelle” needs to fight more aggressively.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Gagnon

Brewer: Watson

Okamoto: Watson

Charlie Brenneman

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 4-3
  • MMA record 15-4
  • Out of:Pittsburgh
  • Betting line: -220

Kyle Noke

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 3-2
  • MMA record 19-6-1
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: +180

Welterweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First-round submission loss to Erick Silva at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: A trend has emerged in the last two years worth of fights involving Brenneman. “The Spaniard” beats other wrestlers, but loses to opponents whose best skills rest elsewhere. None of Brenneman’s wins in the UFC have come by stoppage and none of his losses have gotten to the judges’ scorecards.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Brenneman

Cofield: Brenneman

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Andrew Craig at UFC on FX 2.

Punch list: This fight marks the first of 11 UFC 152 bouts to be relocated elsewhere. Noke has dropped two straight after a stretch of five wins. The Greg Jackson-trained Australian worked as “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s bodyguard before getting into mixed martial arts. He’s the one that needs to chomp down for his livelihood in Toronto.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Noke

Brewer: Brenneman

Okamoto: Noke

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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