MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas today released the opening betting odds for the upcoming UFC lightweight title bout at UFC 164 between champion Benson Henderson and challenger Anthony Pettis, who will take the fight on short notice after TJ Grant was forced to pull out of the bout with a concussion suffered during BJJ training. Kalikas opened Henderson as a -160 betting favorite (bet $160 to win $100) with the comeback on Pettis +120 (bet $100 to win $120) at Several Bookmakers. Here’s what Kalikas had to say about how he decided on the opening line: “It’s disappointing that TJ Grant couldn’t get his title shot due to ‘injury,’ but like many fans I’m really looking forward to the rematch between Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis. “As far as the line goes, I’m expecting another ultra-competitive battle just like their first match. Both fighters have improved tremendously since their first fight and both have more confidence, and this rematch has all the makings of another ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. “I think the fight comes down to gameplanning and the judges. Benson has been involved in several close title matches and this should be no different, but the fight being in Pettis’ hometown means the judges should give him more of a fair shake. So if it does go the scorecards Pettis’ hometown edge shouldn’t hurt his cause, although the judges seem to like Benson’s grinding style.” The fight between Henderson and Pettis is a rematch of the pair’s “Fight of the Year” classic back in 2010, a fight which Pettis won via unanimous decision to become the last-ever WEC lightweight champion at the promotion’s final event, WEC 53. During the fifth round of that bout, Pettis jumped off the cage and kicked Henderson in the face, a strike that has since become known as the “Showtime Kick.” The fight was razor-close up to that point and most believed that the kick was the reason Pettis got the judges’ nod, the judges in Glendale, AZ, that night scoring it 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 in his favor. For this rematch, I expect another razor-close fight and it’s possible we may even see a bad decision. Henderson has been known to be a judges’ favorite (watch his fights with Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez and tell me who you think actually won) and if this fight against Pettis goes to the scorecards then Henderson will likely have the advantage unless it was clear throughout the fight that Pettis should be the winner. In my opinion, even though Pettis will be fighting in his hometown of Milwaukee, WI, he needs to get a finish in this fight to ensure that the judges don’t screw him over like they did to Edgar and Melendez. And that’s definitely possible as Pettis is one of the best strikers in the UFC and Henderson does tend to get hit quite a bit. This is a very close fight to call and when the announcement came out last night I was actually favoring Pettis to win. But thinking about it more, the fact that he’s taking the bout on short notice and coming off an injury is scary, so I don’t know if I can actually lay money on Pettis in this fight, even though it would be nice to see him get the W and shake up the UFC lightweight division.