Luke Rockhold Opens as Betting Favorite over Vitor Belfort

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2013

July 14, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Luke Rockhold celebrates his win over Tim Kennedy in the middleweight championship fight at MMA Strikeforce at the Rose Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about odd, Vitor Belfort, who recently demolished Michael Bisping, and who has not lost to anyone not named Anderson Silva or Jon Jones since 2006, opened as an underdog against a guy making his UFC debut.

Belfort and Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold will square off this May 18 as part of the UFC's eighth FX installment in what has the look of a middleweight title eliminator.

A veteran of the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion, the 28-year-old Rockhold made a name for himself by claiming victories over Ronaldo Souza and Tim Kennedy en route to becoming the consensus top 185-pounder in what was Zuffa's smaller show.

When he takes on Belfort this May, it will mark his first action inside the famed Octagon. But apparently, his pre-UFC credentials were enough to make him the opening favorite against "The Phenom." (H/T MMA Mania for pointing out the odds)

Rockhold's status will likely come as a surprise to most fans. He is neither a household name nor a popular fighter, his biggest wins have come over fringe top 10 opponents (and those five round decisions) and he's never fought in the world's premiere fight promotion. 

Adding to the surprise, Belfort is a near-consensus top 3 middleweight and is coming off an impressive performance. 

All in all, I'd be shocked if the line doesn't change as the fight draws nearer, so if you're backing Belfort and want to put some money down on him, there probably won't be a better time to do it than now.