Prime Picks: Biggest Betting Locks in UFC History

By: Jay Pettry
Apr 6, 2020

Editor’s note: Not all bouts could be accounted for in the data. Whenever possible, these odds came from the same sportsbook to keep the information uniform. Your numbers may vary. With this in mind, Tito Ortiz closed at -1300 prior to delivering a fresh helping of “living death” to Ken Shamrock at UFC Fight Night 6.5.

The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 249 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has promoted over 5,500 fights over the years, and the lion’s share of them throughout its modern history featured betting odds. Although some locks may be considered more historic when factoring in context or more sizeable when determining the actual amounts of bets placed on fights, these—like those of its sister article—strictly come from the magnitude of the favorite’s betting line.

Paige VanZant (-1500) def. Alex Chambers (+1000)
UFC 191
Sep. 5, 2015 | Las Vegas

Throughout UFC history, 29 fights have taken place in which one fighter closed above -1000 as a favorite against his or her opponent. All 29 of those favorites have emerged victorious, and those winners celebrate a finish rate of almost 76 percent—far above the average UFC finish rate of 53.8 percent. Five of the 10 most substantial betting favorites of all-time were women, including four on this list of six due to a three-way tie for fourth place. The underdog in two of those bouts was the same fighter, making Chambers the only competitor in UFC history to come in as a +1000 underdog more than once.

At a pay-per-view event in Nevada headlined by Demetrious Johnson-John Dodson 2, the VanZant-Chambers matchup opened the main card. At the time, VanZant was riding a four-fight winning streak with three finishes, while Chambers had bounced back from a submission loss to Aisling Daly with her own submission of Kailin Curran.

The fight did not proceed according to plan for “Astro Girl,” as VanZant overwhelmed her opponent with a dominant clinch attack. VanZant simply bullied Chambers around the cage; and to make matters worse, Chambers later claimed that she blew out her knee in a second round that resulted in 10-8 scores for VanZant from all three judges. A one-sided drubbing from VanZant concluded with a third-round tapout, which came after she mounted Chambers and snatched an armbar.

The momentum propelled “12 Gauge” into a main event against Rose Namajunas three months later. Since her victory over Chambers, VanZant has dropped three of her five fights, including two rear-naked choke defeats. VanZant has struggled with repeated injuries, competing only twice since 2018 after suffering multiple broken arms. Meanwhile, the knee injury forced Chambers out of action for two years. She has since competed twice more, losing both.

Livinha Souza (-1500) def. Alex Chambers (+1000)
UFC Fight Night 137
Sep. 22, 2018 | Sao Paulo, Brazil

During her brief five-fight UFC stay in which every bout saw her close as the underdog, Chambers was matched against three women making their Octagon debuts. She lost to all three: Souza, Aisling Daly and Nadia Kassem. Across promotional history, seven fights have seen underdogs of +1000 or higher, and Chambers is the only fighter on the list twice.

On the heels of two wins in Invicta Fighting Championships, Souza was signed by the promotion and matched with Chambers. The former Invicta strawweight queen, whose lone loss came by split verdict to Angela Hill, made a statement in her debut against a fighter on a two-bout skid. In the UFC Fight Night 137 opener, Souza raced towards her opponent, hit a takedown, snatched mount and secured a guillotine choke in 81 seconds. The outcome was never in doubt, as Chambers—a woman hailed as a pioneer in Australia—fell to 1-4 when fighting outside of her home country.

Souza competed twice in 2019, splitting a pair of decisions with Sarah Frota and Brianna Van Buren. A back injury scuttled an opportunity to fight in December, and she finds herself on the outside looking in at the strawweight rankings. Meanwhile, the quick submission loss for Chambers—the fastest defeat of her career—may or may not have spelled the end of her fighting career. She still has her own athlete page and has not otherwise been publicly removed from the roster. The 41-year-old Aussie has not competed September 2018 and continues to actively train.

Cristiane Justino (-1500) def. Leslie Smith (+1200)
UFC 198
May 14, 2016 | Curitiba, Brazil

Fresh off three successful defenses of her Invicta featherweight title, “Cyborg” made her long-awaited UFC debut at a 140-pound catchweight. Without a featherweight division at the time, the promotion forced Justino to fight at 140 pounds for two bouts before deciding it was time for her to compete for a belt. On a 16-fight unbeaten streak—the lone blemish, a no contest, resulted from a failed drug test after she demolished Hiroko Yamanaka in 16 seconds—expectations were high that “Cyborg” would run through any opponent the UFC placed in her path.

Meeting her was a hard-nosed brawler in Smith, who had competed at every weight class from 125 to 145 pounds while with Invicta and the UFC. Smith had alternated wins and losses in her four UFC bouts leading up to the “Cyborg” fight, but if she somehow found a way spring an upset, it would have immediately catapulted her to the top of some division’s pecking order. It was not meant to be. “Cyborg” needed exactly 81 seconds to dispatch her counterpart. Swarmed by Justino punches from the start, Smith wilted under the pressure of her massive opponent; and despite her protests regarding the stoppage, the Californian looked like she had been run over by an elevator.

The dominant victory served as a springboard for Justino. She needed to clobber an outsized Lina Lansberg in a UFC Fight Night headliner four months later before the promotion opted to create the women’s featherweight division. Presumably, it made the division for her, and she lorded over it until Amanda Nunes posterized her in under a minute. Smith, meanwhile, rallied after the crushing defeat and put together a three-fight winning streak. Like “Cyborg,” Smith now resides under the Bellator MMA banner. Because the women’s 145-pound division is wafer-thin, the two could potentially meet again one day. If they did, the odds would likely be just as lopsided.

Ronaldo Souza (-1600) def. Chris Camozzi (+1050)
UFC on Fox 15
April 18, 2015 | Newark, New Jersey

If one needed an example for why a bad stylistic matchup would lead to uneven betting odds, consider the rematch between Souza and Camozzi. The Brazilian first encountered Camozzi in the UFC on FX 8 co-headliner in 2013, and Souza promptly put the “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 competitor to sleep with an arm-triangle choke. When the lines opened for the rematch a mere two years later—their initial pairing closed with Souza as the -600 favorite against Camozzi at +500—it was about as distant as two lines can get.

Both times the American was booked against Souza, it was as a replacement option. Prior to their first meeting, Souza was originally billed to face Costas Philippou, and Camozzi was elevated from his matchup with Rafael Natal. Before their second, Souza was prepared to take on Yoel Romero, but a week before the fight, an injury once again allowed Camozzi to step up and return to the promotion after two regional fights in Colorado. Unsurprisingly, Camozzi offered little resistance, and “Jacare” required less time to pull off a submission. Souza landed an early, easy takedown, pursued the position he wanted to take and snagged an armbar just beyond the halfway point of the opening round.

Taking the fight on short notice did not lower stock in Camozzi, who went on to string together three wins in a row after the one-sided submission loss. Unfortunately for the Factory X rep, a subsequent three-fight skid signaled his second release from the Las Vegas-based promotion. As for Souza, the victory over Camozzi extended his winning streak to eight fights and saw the UFC reschedule his scrap with Romero. Since beating Camozzi the second time, Souza has shown flashes of brilliance in the form of four stoppage wins, but he has also dropped five bouts in that span.

Chad Mendes (-1650) def. Yaotzin Meza (+1300)
UFC on FX 6
Dec. 15, 2012 | Queensland, Australia

All six largest betting locks in UFC history featured the favorite finishing his or her opponent, including this featherweight tilt—which bore the highest favorite among all UFC men’s divisions. Meza still holds the top spot as the largest underdog in promotional history, although he was unable to capitalize on what would have been by far the biggest upset in UFC history; that distinction still belongs to Johnny Eduardo over Eddie Wineland. Meza earned that mark by taking the bout against Mendes on short notice, as he replaced Hacran Dias a mere five days before the bout. The MMA Lab fighter made his short-notice debut across the world, and it did not go well for him.

Mendes rebounded from the first loss of his career by punching a figurative hole in Cody McKenzie’s solar plexus in about 30 seconds. Storming his way back to title contention, a bout against Dias—one of Jose Aldo’s teammates—would have gone a long way towards another crack at the champion. However, Mendes had to make the best of what he was offered. “Money” opened with power leg kicks, which allowed for power right hands to follow. A thunderous right put down Meza, and a few follow-up punches made his toes curl as his body frighteningly stiffened as if stricken with rigor mortis.

While on a dominant run that later saw Mendes knock out Darren Elkins in just over a minute, the eventual three-time title challenger became the first featherweight to ever secure three consecutive first-round knockouts. A five-fight winning streak, including his starching of Meza, finally earned Mendes another shot at Aldo. He lost yet again. Although Meza made his sophomore effort a success by dropping a weight class and tapping John Albert, he never fully established himself in the organization, and consecutive defeats led to his 2016 release. He returned to MMA one final time at a Combate Americas card in 2018 and won by submission before retiring in front of a local crowd.

Ronda Rousey (-1700) def. Bethe Correia (+1100)
UFC 190
Aug. 1, 2015 | Rio de Janeiro

No fighter in UFC history ever closed as large of a betting favorite as Rousey did when she met Correia in 2015. The result of the match was seen as a foregone conclusion, as Rousey was in the midst of a historic streak in which she had racked up 12 consecutive wins, all by stoppage. Rousey had only left the first round once, and few offered much resistance while she recorded seven sub-minute stoppages prior to facing Correia.

Correia earned a title shot in an unusual way: She beat some of the champion’s training partners. After making her promotional debut by taking a split verdict over Julie Kedzie, Correia went on to defeat Jessamyn Duke and knock out Shayna Baszler—the latter two being members of Rousey’s fabled “Four Horsewomen” stable. Although Correia had won three UFC bouts before earning a title shot, none of her opponents were ranked before she fought them. Meanwhile, the undefeated Rousey repeatedly defended her bantamweight title as the only woman to hold the job since the UFC created the weight class.

Closing odds for the matchup were so lopsided that a traditionally narrow prop bet of Rousey Wins by Submission closed at a favored -190; this did not hit, of course. The correct option of Rousey by TKO/KO came in at +255, while Rousey Wins Inside the Distance was an incredible -863. In comparison, less than 70 bouts throughout UFC history have featured one fighter as a favorite of that magnitude or greater, while that line was for “Rowdy” to finish the fight. Luckily for fearless bettors, she did so in devastating, faceplanting fashion. A wild, sloppy brawl ensued between the two for a grand total of 34 seconds. Rousey landed a quick combination that sent Correia reeling against the cage, and one perfect right hand behind the ear from the champ shut out the lights out and added the last notch on her belt.

The crushing knockout of Correia was the final hoorah for the once-great Rousey, who still holds the record as the most significant betting favorite in UFC history. She was on top of the world, scoring movie deals in “Entourage” and “The Expendables 3,” but her MMA career would never be the same. In fact, she never won again. Subsequent appearances against Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes ended her time in the sport violently, and she has since crossed over into professional wrestling. Although Correia came into her Rousey matchup unbeaten, the loss exposed the Brazilian’s vulnerabilities. Correia has gone on to uncertain times, with a record of 2-3-1 since 2015.

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