Happy New Year everyone! As we had a couple of weeks between UFC events, I decided to do an interview with one of our handicappers. If you are interested in being featured as the next MMA handicapper interview, let me know.
First up, we have UFC Moneymaker. Based in the UK, like myself (hence us talking about MMA in the UK later in the interview). Since signing up on Bet MMA, he has a record of:
Straight Fight Picks
Winning Events: 14 (67%)
Losing Events: 7 (33%)
You can find UFCMoneymaker’s profile here and his personal website at ufcmoneymaker.co.uk where you can find his long term record.
Bet MMA: What’s your real name and how long have you been handicapping MMA?
ufcmoneymaker: Matt White, and it’s been around 3 years now.
Bet MMA: What do you do in real life as a job?
ufcmoneymaker: I work in Sports betting for a large Sportsbook.
Bet MMA: How would you describe your handicapping style in general?
ufcmoneymaker: I’d say I approach from a fan perspective, I don’t charge for tips so I look for things I like not just quick profits. I’ve always been a prop man but went through a poor run and needed to change something, so I moved to Straight, Prop and Parlay; also ramped up the units.
Bet MMA: So, presumably as a fan, you have a good base knowledge but how much tape watching do you do specifically for picks? And would you say that tape watching often changes your initial gut instinct pick?
ufcmoneymaker: I watch every event and have a vast library of Pride and UFC to pick from.
I tend to go with my gut for most picks, referring to tape if I am in any doubt. I also work out what I fancy before looking at any odds, that way I don’t get swayed by the oddsmakers; given that they are so frequently wrong.
Bet MMA: When the odds are heavily one way and you think the other way, is your prediminant emotion excitement or self-doubt? 😀
ufcmoneymaker: Doubt, briefly. You always think whether you have missed something obvious. But sometimes the bookies are caught up in the sort of hype that a handicapper can’t possess. Just look at recent dog bets on Karolina Kowalkievicz (sic) Rose Namajunas and Ryan Bader. All decent dogs but should have been favs.
Bet MMA: So, it’s 23 fights since you got a straight pick wrong, including 7 underdogs. That’s pretty sweet. Have you done anything differently recently to hit that run?
ufcmoneymaker: Nothing, my mates always say Blind Squirrels and Broken Clocks. Toss a coin often enough and you’ll go on a decent run. I always get concerned about streaks as regression to the mean is a bitch.
Bet MMA: I think that runs a bit more than luck, so let’s hope the graph keeps pointing in the right direction 🙂
Anyway, going back to the underdogs thing. Do you look at specific types of fighter that might offer value? By that specifically, I mean that I personally seem to have started picking unbeaten fighters to lose their first fight. Is there a certain category of fighter that you think offers potential value?
ufcmoneymaker: I tend to fade the fighter who has been on lengthy layoff. Im also keen to look a first timers facing more established fighters. KK was a standout v Markos. Also, previous winners with a poor performance is an auto fade; mikael Lebout for example.
Bet MMA: So, you say you do this mostly on instinct. How much had you seen of Karolina Kowalkievicz previously and how much non-UFC MMA do you watch? And what ultimately made you go for that pick?
ufcmoneymaker: I’d seen precious little, but when she was signed a mate was raving about her as the best European female fighter outside the UFC. I trust his opinion on that. I do watch some non-UFC, bellator is a decent watch but mostly squash matches, as with Rizin. I’ve always looked to attend BAMMA and Cage Warriors when they are nearby, as well as judging regional fights in Stoke on Trent for Ross Pointon.
I picked KK because I felt the UFC would be desperate for JJ v KK in Poland at some stage in 2016 and their current style is to build fighters we style rather than put them up against the best in the division.
Bet MMA: Ross Pointon: He of the most grizzly head cuts, for those reading this who haven’t seen it! Have you been to any UFCs live? I’m presuming so… If so, what’s the best fight you’ve seen live?
ufcmoneymaker: That’s the one, he runs Night of the Gladiators locally. I’ve been to a few: ufc138 in Birmingham, 146 in Vegas as well as the Fight Night cards at Wembley, O2, Glasgow, Manchester and Nottingham.
Best fight though? You’ll have to give me a couple of minutes on that one 🙂
I don’t think I have a best fight, I’ve got a most uncomfortable (Sexton v Andrade) and UFC 146 was by far the best event.
Bet MMA: I can empathise with the uncomfortable thing. The first fight I saw live was a one sided beatdown in a near empty O2 arena. When it finished me and my friends turned to each other and said “urgh…. I’m not sure I enjoyed watching that.”
Thankfully when it filled out, it didn’t feel as weird.
ufcmoneymaker: The Sexton fight should have been stopped, it was a beat down.
Bet MMA: So, you mention your wife; what’s she make of MMA in general? You also mentioned your friends – it sounds like you’re lucky enough to have mates who are also into MMA.
ufcmoneymaker: She tolerates it. Absolutely despises football and knows I love sport so she picks the lesser evil. I’ve got a couple of mates into MMA, only one that’s as into it as I am, that’s my event buddy 🙂
To be honest just being able to shoot the shit with someone about MMA in general is a nice bonus.
Bet MMA: So, back to handicapping, what would you say was your best pick to date?
ufcmoneymaker: That’s easy, starting out I got Ross Pearson over George Sotiropoulis in the 3rd round at 22/1
Bet MMA: What made you go for that?
ufcmoneymaker: I don’t know, I fancied inside the distance but uk books were not offering it so I rolled the dice on a gut feeling.
But, I’ll always remember Condit v Kampmann II – I went through the main card, props, straights, cumulative odds of just over 1000/1
Bet MMA: Do you remember what you went for in that 1000/1?
Yeah I do, actually:
Brad Tavares by decision at 5/4
Court McGee by decision (over Robert Whittaker) 7/4
Tavares over McDaniel
Mizugaki over Erik Perez
Gastelum over melancon by sub 7/1
RDA over Cerrone by decision 11/5
Condit over Kampmann by ko 13/8
My finest hour. Nearly repeated it the following week but the main event broke me.
Bet MMA: Yup, that’ll do nicely! Wanna share how much you had on that and what you did with the winnings?
ufcmoneymaker: You know what sucks? I didn’t have a penny on it. It was part of an article I wrote for Fighters Only. Nobody has ever let me forget it.
Bet MMA: argh…. ballbags!
ufcmoneymaker: I said…..similar. I don’t bet all my tips. Some I do, but mainly only when the line is really wrong.
Bet MMA: How did you get that gig with Fighters Only?
ufcmoneymaker: At UFC Nottingham.
There was a UFC fight club party, I invited them along as a promo piece, got talking to the online editor and put a proposal up to him, he went for it and I’ve been doing it since.
They did a video story, interviewed a few of the members, gave away some tickets and hosted a hand wrapping competition with Stitch. I won with a friend of mine, I had to wrap her hands in toilet paper like Stitch showed us with the proper stuff. We had Leon Roberts, Mark Goddard, Alex Gustafson there.
Bet MMA: Have you met many fighters in real life? If so, who’s been the nicest?
ufcmoneymaker: Yeah a fair few. Met Cain Velasquez while walking down the Las Vegas Strip, Johny Hendricks at UFC 146, Edson Barboza in the mgm ice cream parlour, he posed for a pic after Jamie Varner had ko’d him. Gustafson a few times, Ross Pearson a few times,Luke Rockhold was pretty cool too as was Brittany Palmer. Nicest was Randy Couture though, met him at a BAMMA event and took the time to say hi despite security trying to push us all away
Oh I forgot about Stefan Struve ( he towered over me and I’m 6’2″) but Pat Barry was pretty cool too, despite the fact he should have finished over an hour earlier.
Bet MMA: Yeah. that’s really cool of him.
ufcmoneymaker: Most of the fighters are top guys. They recognise the fan involvement in the sport.
Bet MMA: I’d like to give a shout out to the late Shawn Tompkins at this point actually. He climbed up the side of the bleachers to take a pic with me after a weighins once.
Bet MMA: Looking forward, what do you reckon to the general landscape of MMA at the moment? Any fighters you particularly look forward to watching? Do you think we’re at a stage where the sport itself is fully developed or do you think we’ve still got a way to go before it reaches its potential?
ufcmoneymaker: Long way to go yet. People are conditioned to boxing, MMA by comparison is viewed as barbaric due to violence, even though the skillset is far higher.
I am very keen on Aljamain Sterling, he’s got a huge future ahead of him.
The sport needs more mainstream icons. McGregor and Rousey have been great for the public profile of the sport. Those who don’t get MMA know who they are, that’s a great thing as it legitimises the sport.
Bet MMA: It’s funny isn’t it. Some people don’t like MMA cos they think it’s boring, then some don’t like it cos they think it’s too violent.
ufcmoneymaker: Yeah people I know confuse it with wwe which irritates me. Others refer to it as oiled up men cuddling on the floor. We need to get some mainstream celebs at the events, people that can be identified with. Whatshisface from One Direction and Noel Clarke don’t quite cut it yet.
Bet MMA: I think we need a regular set of events, every couple of months in europe. When all the events are late at night, i dont think there’s any reason for media to cover it.
ufcmoneymaker: Yeah, although Anderson Silva is going to bring huge attention next month. Terrestrial tv in the uk will also help.
Bet MMA: For sure… it’s just that there won’t be another event in the UK for probably 6 months, so there’s never any momentum. It probably needs Sky to buy the rights and put it on Sky Sports News.
ufcmoneymaker: Tell me about it. Best year was when we had two, London and Manchester. Downside is that ticket prices will rocket and events will be harder to attend; guess we can’t win.
Bet MMA: Yeah, im not sure im too bothered about going live anymore. first UFC we went to was £25 for the front row of the top bowl at hte O2, just behind the exec boxes. Would probably be £150 now. That was only 7 years ago.
ufcmoneymaker: I just paid £166 for l1, square on the octagon for Feb.
Bet MMA: Yeah, I’m not sure I can justify that sort of price, even if I can write it off. Might make the trip to Stockholm for one or something like that and make a holiday of it with some mates.
ufcmoneymaker: I’m aiming for Berlin or Poland.
Bet MMA: So… Proper questions…. In terms of your own website, how long have you had that set up? I know you give away your picks for free, so have any of your followers ever sent you any pennies as a thanks for winning them some money?
ufcmoneymaker: I set it up when I started with Fighters Only; it was more for recording all my picks. Nobody ever sent me a single penny, I should put up a tip jar. When I get around to my new site maybe I’ll put one up.
Bet MMA: Any aspirations of making any money out of it all?
ufcmoneymaker: Long term maybe, I don’t have the userbase yet.
Bet MMA: Do you have any fighters that you keep going back to bet on again and again? And conversely, anyone who’s burned you mutiple times?
ufcmoneymaker: Repeat bets are Lawler & Rockhold, the burner is Overeem. He’s done me too many times. I’ll bet Rockhold against pretty much anyone, huge fan. I’d bet Mighty Mouse over Overeem, he’s done me that many times.
Bet MMA: Yeah, heavyweights are a tricky pospect. I tend to steer clear. Looking at your stats though, you seem to spread your picks across all weight classes. Mostly lower main card guys. Is that deliberate or just happenstance?
ufcmoneymaker: Coincidence I’d say. For FO I cover all on the main card, so I’ll always get a decent mix. Occasionally I’ll not get a chance to do a write up so I’ll end up putting my instinct picks out; eg TUF cards.
Bet MMA: Do you tend to look at stats much? Have the BetMMA stats pages provided any helpful insight?
ufcmoneymaker: I rarely look at stats unless it’s for an individual fighter, the past doesn’t predict the future. Or, at least I try not too.
Bet MMA: Well I’ll have to see if the Bet Bot can prove you wrong on that one 😀
ufcmoneymaker: Ha ha, bring it on.
Bet MMA: Does it bug you that you use a 1-5 unit scale and others use at 1-11 scale, which if you used, you’d be higher up the leaderboard? *N.B. I will be trying to do an adjusted table at some point to help with that.
ufcmoneymaker: It used to. Before April this year I was a strictly 1 unit man, if I’d been more proactive my lifetime stats would probably be double what they are at least.
Bet MMA: What have we got left to talk about?
ufcmoneymaker: I don’t know, least favourite event live? Wembley, worst event I’ve ever seen, either on TV or in person.
Bet MMA: What was that event?
ufcmoneymaker: It was Barao v McDonald, it stunk.
Bet MMA: Moving on then. What do you think of MMA judging at the moment and does it impact your picks in any way?
ufcmoneymaker: As a judge myself I feel for some judges, but many don’t help themselves. Judging has no impact on my picks, unless it’s Benson Henderson 🙂
Bet MMA: Why him in particular?
ufcmoneymaker: He’s a point fighter, he seems to know what they are scoring on. Others are not so lucky.
Bet MMA: What did you reckon to the scoring this weekend at UFC 195?
ufcmoneymaker: I’ve not seen the whole thing yet due to work. I had some contentious views on the title fight though, not everyone agrees with me.
Bet MMA: Oh yeah?
I gave Condit, round 1
Lawler Round 2
Narrowly went with Lawler in the 3rd
Condit in the 4th
The fifth, while universally scored for Lawler I gave to Condit by virtue of winning 4/5 mins of the round. The flurry from Lawler was impressive but it was a final roll of the dice, based on scoring criteria it had to go to Condit.
Bet MMA: Well, whilst I think you’re off your rocker for scoring R3 for Lawler and think you’d probably change your mind if you watched it again, I don’t disagree on R5. Lawler lost 4 minutes of R5. I think people only think it’s clearly Lawler because they thought the epic comeback win might have been on. If that was R1, they might have had a different view.
ufcmoneymaker: Didn’t help that I knew the result before watching the fight, but I thought I’d score it anyway. Maybe I’ll rewatch the 3rd, but Twitter was completely against me for the 5th.
Bet MMA: I stayed up to watch it live. First time I’ve done that in about 5 years.
ufcmoneymaker: See, I did that for 194; it was the bigger event.
Bet MMA: One point I’ve tried making on the Condit fight. This magical sixth sense that some people think they have for deciding how damaging a shot is…. Lawler throws massive punches with his teeth showing. That doesn’t mean they hurt more. If Conor hadn’t knocked out Aldo with that punch, people would have thought that was a sort of 4/10 power punch.
Condit caught Lawler plenty of times with good solid shots; they’re just more efficient and less obviously aggressive.
ufcmoneymaker: Agree, completely. The big question was do you score for a guy who throws less and lands more or a guy who throws more and lands less.
Bet MMA: Or in this instance, a guy who throws more and lands more 🙂
ufcmoneymaker: Percentage wise Lawler landed more didn’t he?
Bet MMA: Not sure. I think condit landed more shots than Lawler threw. From recollection, I think Condit’s land % was probably about 35%. I personally thought Condit, Ansaroff, Noke and Soto all won. I picked them all in a pickem contest, so I was pissed off 🙂
ufcmoneymaker: According to http://UFC.com Lawler landed 53% total strikes and 52% significant strikes. Condit was 35% on both.
Bet MMA: Oooh, good guess. Right, let’s wrap things up with a couple of quick general questions.
Bet MMA: What would be your general advice to anyone who wanted to bet on MMA, in terms of making good picks? Both straight fight picks and what to look for in a prop. And as a nice finishing post, how about putting together a semi realistic fantasy card with like 5 fights, which would suit a main / co-main / rest of the card.
ufcmoneymaker: For general advice, I’d say don’t rush into it. People look at betting as easy; it isn’t. Making money at MMA is a slog and it’s getting harder. Bookmakers are smartening up and it won’t be too long till the odds are unbettable, like most boxing matches. Start with props, get to know how they work and use them for fun, particularly in the big favourites. It’s the only time you’ll get value from someone like Rousey.
For a fantasy card? I’d opt for a 5 fight main card.
To get the show underway I’d pick
Carlos Condit v Matt Brown
McGregor v Cerrone
Fedor v Randy Couture
co-main is GSP v Anderson Silva
and headlined by Jon Jones v Cain Velasquez.
Call it UFC: Awesome Violence
Thanks to Matt for his time and insight. Please follow Matt and anyone else who’s doing a good job in our MMA Handicapper Directory of the best MMA Handicappers on the net!