Junior Dos Santos (12-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has opened a slight favorite over fellow UFC heavyweight contender Brock Lesnar (5-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC).
Noted MMA oddsmaker and frequent radio guest Joey Oddessa (@MMAOdds) today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) he's set the initial line at -155 in favor of Dos Santos, which gives him an approximately 61 percent chance of defeating Lesnar (+125).
UFC president Dana White recently named Dos Santos and Lesnar as "The Ultimate Fighter 13" coaches, and they're expected to fight in a No. 1 contender's bout at UFC 131.
As MMAjunkie.com first reported earlier this week, UFC 131 is expected to take place June 11 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, though officials still are finalizing the date and venue.
News of the bout of the fight and the fighters' appointments as "TUF 13" coaches came as a big surprise on Tuesday. Officials closely guarded the identity of the coaches, who each will lead a team of welterweight prospects on the reality series. The season debut is set for March 30 on Spike TV, and the live finale takes place June 4, a week before the expected Dos Santos vs. Lesnar bout.
The opening line likely will be picked up by the major sportsbooks and will fluctuate as money comes in on each fighter. UFC 131, though, marks the first time that Lesnar has opened as an underdog in an MMA fight.
Lesnar is a former NCAA Division I national wrestling champion and UFC titleholder who lost his belt to current champ Cain Velasquez in October. The former WWE star has emerged as the UFC's top pay-per-view draw, and his inclusion in "TUF" should translate to big ratings.
Dos Santos, meanwhile, recently claimed top-contender status by posting a 6-0 record in the UFC. Recent wins have come over Mirko "Cro Cop"
Filipovic, Gilbert Yvel, Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson.
Officials put together the fight and coaching gigs after current champ Cain Velasquez required shoulder surgery (and a long recovery period) due a shoulder injury he suffered in an October title win over then-champ Lesnar. The UFC 131 winner gets a guaranteed title shot with Velasquez.