Dillashaw Opens as UFC Favorite vs Cruz

Though TJ Dillashaw’s reign as UFC bantamweight champion has been fairly short, just two title defenses, he has looked like one of the best finishers the weight class has seen in years.

Dillashaw’s recent domination of Renan Barao, twice over, has the Team Alpha Male member Sportsbook as a -160 fave for his title defense in January against Dominick Cruz, according to Sportsbook.

"I'll admit, I expected Dillashaw to open closer to -190 or -200, given his recent performances against elite competition and given the fact that Dominick Cruz has been forced into inactivity for the better part of four years,” says UFC commentator Jon Anik, who is also a member of Team OddsShark in the Sportsbook Super Contest.

Over the past several years, Cruz has torn his ACL in both of his knees and has only had one fight since a five-round decision victory over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. However, that one fight was a complete dismantling of Takeya Mizugaki that saw Cruz end the fight at one minute and one second.

“I know Dom quite well and he is one of the most impressive MMA minds and athletes I have ever come across,” Anik says. “He seems to have actually gained confidence and been buoyed by the rehab, as opposed to getting discouraged by it, which is a huge testament to his mental resolve.”

Dillashaw has looked like an absolute monster since jumping into the championship scene. Despite being a late fill-in to challenge for the belt, Dillashaw stifled Renan Barao who had not lost a fight in nearly a decade. The newly crowned UFC bantamweight champion then dismantled Joe Soto and dominated Barao again in his last fight.

“Dillashaw's current form is just outstanding and I believe him to be the more proven finisher, so I suppose I see some value on him in that -150 range. Just don't tell Cruz I said so,” Anik says.

The bantamweight title will be on the line when Dillashaw and Cruz meet in Boston on January 17 at UFC Fight Night 81.

UFC Fight Night 81 - Bantamweight 5 Rounds
  • Dominick Cruz +130
  • TJ Dillashaw -160
  • Over 4.5 Rounds -175
  • Under 4.5 Rounds +135
Odds as of September 18 at Sportsbook