UFC 197 Picks: Sharps Are Shooting For Value With Underdog Ovince St. Preux vs. Jon Jones

Jason Lake

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 7:30 PM GMT

Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2016 7:30 PM GMT

Once again, fight fans are being treated to a makeshift main event. And it looks like the sharps have already taken advantage of the UFC picks for Saturday's UFC 197 card.

These are not the best of times for the UFC. Their top attractions have been taken down a peg or two, and they can't seem to put together a main event without someone getting injured in training. We'll see those two dynamics collide this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where Jon Jones and Ovince Saint Preux will meet for the Interim Light Heavyweight title at UFC 197.

On the surface, this looks like an easy matchup for Jones. The former champ was supposed to fight Daniel Cormier for the belt, but Cormier pulled out three weeks ago with an injured foot, leaving Saint Preux to fill in on Saturday. The UFC odds at press time have Jones favored at around –550 to win the Interim title. However, judging by the betting patterns, it appears the sharps are shooting for value with the underdog.

***Visit Our Props Page For Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux***

Sharp Elbows
Let's travel back in time to the night of April 4, when the first odds for this match started coming in at locations like Heritage, who had Jones favored at –870. By the afternoon of April 5, Jones had fallen all the way to –405, after some heavy and repeated action that forced Heritage to adjust its lines downward every few minutes. Then the market yo-yoed for a while before stabilizing last week at around Jones –445.

Now the ex-champ is gaining steam. Slowly but surely, Jones has crept all the way back up to –535 at Heritage. And we expect Jones to keep steaming as we get closer to bell time. This betting pattern looks like a classic case of the sharps getting their money in early at a bargain price on the underdog, while the “square” public is arriving late with money on the still-heavy favorite.

Candy Bar!
So will we be putting Saint Preux (19-7 lifetime, 7-2 UFC) in our UFC picks here at the home office? Maybe we would have when he was available at +570, but at +380, not so much. He wasn't even the first choice to replace Cormier; Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was unavailable after undergoing oral surgery. Saint Preux is no tomato can, but he doesn't have nearly the same bona fides in the Octagon as Jones.

Meanwhile, Jones (21-1 lifetime, 15-1 UFC) still has just the 2009 DQ loss to Matt Hamill on his record – his MMA record, that is. His police record is another matter. Over the past four years, Jones has gotten himself into more and more trouble, getting stripped of his Light Heavyweight title last April and losing countless dollars in sponsorship money. It's enough concern for us to recommend only a very small bet on Jones, but we're not quite ready to fade him at these prices.

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Free UFC  Pick: Jones –502
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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