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Tyron Woodley's underdog status doesn't mean much in 2016

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Main event underdogs have found surprising success this year, especially in championship fights.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

At UFC 201 this weekend, Robbie Lawler will be defending his UFC Welterweight Championship against the sizable underdog Tyron Woodley. It will be the first time that Lawler will be defending his title as the clear favorite. In his two previous title defenses, Lawler was considered to be at even odds with Carlos Condit and a slight underdog against Rory MacDonald.

If 2016 has told us anything, it's that main event fighters, especially champions, should not take their underdog opponents lightly. The UFC has held 21 events in 2016: 6 PPV cards, 3 Fox cards, 1 TUF Finale and 11 Fight Night cards.

Out of those 21 events, 17 main event fights had a clear favorite and clear underdog. The table below lays out those main events fights, with the green blocks indicating the winner of the fight.

2016 Main Event Odds/Michael Hutchinson Michael Hutchinson

**Winner not clear Favorite/Underdog

Out of the 17 fights with a clear favorite, 10 underdogs defied the odds to win the fight. In 7 of those fights, the underdog finished the favorite, with 6 of those finishes coming in the first round.

The biggest underdog in a main event fight, Michael Bisping, defeated Luke Rockhold for the UFC Middleweight Championship at UFC 199. He was a +525 underdog going into the fight, giving him a 16% chance of winning.

In comparison, Tyron Woodley will be going into his fight against Robbie Lawler as the +175 underdog, giving him a 36.5% chance at winning. Those are similar odds to the Thomas Almeida/Cody Garbrandt fight. Garbrandt finished Almeida with a knockout in the first round of that fight.

While the recent string of underdog victories have been bad for champions, those who gamble on underdogs have been scoring big-time. A $100 on each of the 17 clear underdog fighters (a $1700 bet) would have resulted in a hefty profit of $1785.

This Saturday we'll get to find out if Woodley can continue the success of main event underdogs, or if Robbie Lawler will continue his dominance of the Welterweight division.

Latest odds for UFC 201: Lawler vs. Woodly via OddsShark