Category Archives: UFC Betting

How I Watch Fights (UFC Betting Interview)

It’s always interesting to here what other bettors prioritise when breaking down fights. YouTube blogger and member of Bet MMA, The 30-26 Breakdown has created a series of videos where he interviews MMA Handicappers about this topic, myself included.

Link to the series as a whole

My two interview videos:
Mike Tycoon
Units Profit: 213.81, ROI: 48%

I have the opportunity to elaborate on some of the points in the videos here and also to add some more stuff.

In my video I mentioned that what I do best is “leaving bets the hell alone“. Great example this week… I spent about 6 hours scouting the Cezar Ferreira vs Elias Theodorou fight. Cezar is pretty much better at everything technically and Elias is super sloppy. I wanted so bad to pick Cezar and I even did a pick writeup for it but if I am not 100% certain on a pick, I leave the writeup and play games for an hour then read the writeup and see if I definitely want to submit. Sometimes I will do a writeup just to arrange the thoughts I have in my head and see if it all makes sense. If I can’t convince myself with a writeup, I’ll ditch it. Even though I’d spent ages and ages on that fight, I just couldn’t back Cezar because of his worse cardio, worse chin and poor fight IQ… All the important intangibles. Though my record doesn’t get any actual credit in the form of a nice big green W; not betting that fight was just as important, if not moreso, because if you are tipping fights then people remember those big fat red Ls more than the green Ws. I’m certainly just as pleased with myself for not tipping that fight as I am for actually tipping a McMann win or a Kongo win from this weekend.
I get 35-50 buys per week on my picks at the moment. I can imagine a few people who bought the picks were like “what the hell? I am paying this dude money to tell me to bet 6 units on McMann and 5 units on Kongo, two big favourites? I would have bet them anyway.” Well, actually, what you’re paying me five whole dollars for is more to watch nearly a full day’s tape on Cezar Ferreira then not get suckered into tipping it just because of all the time I spent on it.

To elaborate on what I meant by picking winners sometimes being an ego thing. Basically, sometimes I feel like people get fixated with trying to pick a winner. They’ll spend hours and hours watching tape for a super close matchup because they wanna prove to themself that they can break down the fight well or they wanna get the right pick in a pickem contest or maybe they wanna look clever to other people… They end up getting obsessed with tiny details like “x puts his foot here when he throws his right hand and I think that gives him a slight edge in the striking” or whatever… It’s OK to say you have no idea who’s going to win, even after watching loads of tape, but sometimes people feel like they HAVE to make a pick because they’ve put so much time into it. It’s much easier to say “this is a super competitive fight. I dunno who’s going to win but neither guy is really a finisher, so I’d say the over hits 80% of the time.” If that 80% represents value (and it usually will), then it’s a much, much better bet.

I had a look through the top few cappers again. Of the guys that bet props:
I’m 45-5 (90%) on overs, 3-1 (75%) on unders.
HedgeFund is 14-10 58% on over and 1-2 (33%) on unders.
Mark Habshade is 50-12 (81%) on overs and 1-2 (33%) on unders.
Iso Soprano is 62-19 (77%) on overs and 0-1 on unders.
Hades Nexus is 15-3 on overs (83%) and 2-2 (50%) on unders.

Obviously a lot of those bets are at short odds so you have to analyse the value further but you can see that at the very least, the people who make the most profit do like betting overs a lot more than unders and have a lot higher hit rate with them too.

Clinch Importance. I asked him to tag this on the end of the second video because I think a LOT of fights are won and lost in the clinch. If you are losing the striking, being better in the clinch is a great out. If you are the better striker, if you can also dominate the clinch then it’s going to put them in a really bad place where they have to land a takedown from range.

Because the clinch is so based on fundamentals (it’s pretty much just always a battle for underhooks and clinch control / positional advantage), I think you can rate people pretty well on their clinch ability if you have enough common opponents or a frame or reference. I don’t think you can rate any other aspect of the game in terms of an MMA Math “A beat B and B beat C so C will beat A”…. but in clinch, I think there’s a very strong chance that will be the case.

Corrections:
Just to correct a few things that weren’t what I meant or were a bit off.
– In vid 2 he mentioned flyweights coming off a loss. He said it’s debuting fighters but it’s not, that’s all fighters at the weight.
– Clinch hierarcy for the women’s bantamweight. He put Eye at the top but I have her right near the bottom 🙂 Unlucky Jessica 🙂 I do this for all weights, not just one weight class.
– Saparbek Safarov. I never mentioned that going to a decision. I actually bet that Villante would win inside the distance. The point was correct though. If someone has an inflated finishing rate due to poor opposition, I’ll often consider the over or a bet on them winning by decision. Even if you have two guys with high finishing rates coming in and fighting each other, I often look at the over. When you face a dangerous guy you are more cautious, even if you are a dangerous guy yourself, so sometimes they cancel each other out. Also, if you’re getting finishes yourself and not being finished, you probably have a better chin than the people who are getting finished… So two finishers against each other is often two good chins against each other.
– Listening to commentators in general and commentators being harsh or vice versa: They were being hard on Paige Van Zant in the Rose fight, rather than the other way around. To elaborate, I can understand the concept of watching with the sound off to “avoid bais”, but I don’t really think that’s backing yourself very much as a capper, if you don’t think you can tell when a commentor is talking bullshit… For me, you certainly gain more insight from having the commentary on, than problems you might cause yourself from potentially being swayed. Whether the fighter listens to their corner, whether they listen to ref instructions, whether they’re breathing heavily or not or sounding frustrated…. Not to mention mitigating circumstances for past poor performances that you will hear in the commentary.

And finally…
One thing I think is really important that was missed off. I DO listen to plenty of other people’s opinions. Again, this is kinda like the commentary thing. Why not take in extra information? If you don’t listen to other people, you’re basically a narcissist imo. Or if you don’t listen to other people because you don’t trust yourself not to be swayed… man…. back your own intelligence! If you can’t disagree with someone, you’re probably not going to be very good at analysing in general because analysing stuff is all about weighing up information, whether that is previous fight performance or other people’s take on a fight.
What I would say though – if you don’t have a really good memory, take notes on other cappers and their opinions if it helps! Treat them like they’re a fighter that needs analysing and rating.

I’ll give you one example. The MMA Vivisection guys… I listen to their podcast (one of 3-4 I listen to) and they are good at breaking down the main card. However, they talk with equal certainty about fights they clearly have not researched at all, so you have to be super careful when it comes to their undercard analysis.

For example, the Asker against Smoliakov fight, they both agreed with each other (which they tend to do when they don’t know, rather than just saying they don’t know), that Smoliakov should be the favourite and the money coming in on Asker made no sense. They stated that Smoliakov was the more natural striker and the better grappler bla bla bla… Basically everything they said was completely and utterly wrong and I could tell they hadn’t watched any tape on it at all specifically for this fight (they probably just watched some fights ages ago and were trying to remember). I only knew this because I had watched about 6 hours of tape for the fight and was betting Asker. To listen to them talk though, you’d think they’d watched tape too because they talk with too much confidence.

Once you know that though, you can listen for little tells that really they haven’t really got much of an idea on a fight and just ignore what they’re saying when you think that’s what’s happening. It would be infinitely more helpful if they just said they have no idea and move on but they addressed that criticism in their latest podcast by basically saying “if we just said we don’t know all the time, there would be no point in the podcast.”… That totally misses the point because sometimes you do know and sometimes you don’t but whatever.

In general I would say the most important thing I look for in someone else’s opinion is if they acknowledge why they might be wrong. If somoene comes out saying “x is definitely going to win, no question, this other fighter sucks”, I’ll generally make a mental note to pay very little attention to that person’s opinion. Good bettors are analysing % chance in their head and juggling lots of thoughts in their head about potential outcomes, whether they know they are doing it or not. If someone is absolute and certain in their analysis, they’re not doing that.

Other videos in the series

As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, all the other guys in the series also track their bets on Bet MMA, so here are their videos.

Dan Levi – Half The Battle / Best Fight Picks
Units Profit: 67.53, ROI: 14%
Levi is currently on a good streak. He bets small unit amounts so he’s further down the leaderboard than he should be in 16th but if you view the adjusted table, he’s currently top if you use the default adjusted bet amounts.

 

MMA Prophet
Units Profit: 79.19 ROI: 29%
As mentioned in my last blog already, this guy’s doing a really good job and is getting the second most sales on the site each event, after myself. I would like to see him add pick writeups to the site as I’m sure they’d be well thought out (I know you’ll be reading this bud) 😉

 

Sean Carey Tattoo / Thunder Dick Picks
Units Profit: 45.27, ROI: 11%
Very different from my personal philosophy and style of betting but check out his profile and see what you think and if he matches your personal style.

UFC Fighters To Watch In 2017 (Part 2)

I asked anyone on the site if they wanted to contribute their own thoughts in terms of fighters to watch this year. Response was thoroughly underwhelming but never mind! 🙂 One person who put a lot of effort into their list was MMA Prophet, so here is his full email. At the end I’ll also include one other good reply I got.

It’s no surprise that MMA Prophet is currently 2nd top in terms of sales on the site. When you put effort in like this into a writeup, people appreciate that. Follow him and buy his picks! 🙂

Note: he sent me this on 8th January.


MMA Prophet
79.19 units profit, 29% ROI

Ranked fighters who will push on to the top of the division:

Flyweight

Ray Borg: Young/Talented Grappler who made the transition to Jackson Wink MMA. The sky is the limit for him and he has all the time in the world to get there at only 23 years of age. He also just thrashed Smolka. Once he gets his striking to that next level he will be a feared top-level contender.

Featherweight

Mirsad Bektic: He’s a killer with great wrestling, KO power and the skills to submit his opponents. He is undefeated and that’s for a reason. He also trains with American Top Team and the sky is truly the limit for him. Can’t wait to see what he can do.

Welterweight

Jorge Masvidal: One of the most undervalued ranked fighters to ever grace the octagon. He doesn’t really get finished and when he loses it’s a really competitive match up and arguable the fight could go either way. The guy is super well rounded and trains with killers at American Top Team. One of his main training partners is Colby Covington as well and if that wrestling knowledge and grit rubs off in any way on Jorge it makes him an even more lethal threat. I predict he beats Cerrone pretty decisively and steals Cowboys thunder. Cerrone doesn’t respond well to pressure and I’m sure Masvidal will bring the heat. He will be top 5 at the very least.

2nd picks

Lorenz Larkin: Phenomenal striker, I hope he stays in the UFC but a match up like him vs Gunnar Nelson could be interesting to see who is more deserving to ascend. Grappler vs striker, will Gunnar be able to out power Larkin and take him to the mat? I would love to see this matchup

Gunnar Nelson: Great grappler, improving striking, if he can get opponents to the mat it’s over (Besides Maia 😉 ).

Light Heavyweight

Misha Circunov: Amazing grappler with ever improving takedowns and striking. His performances have been extremely dominant and in 2 fights I think we could see him easily ranked #3. He has a good fight IQ, is measured and finds ways to win. *Also* He picked Grab and Nunes to win their last match ups, this may be irrelevant but he understands what people bring to the table and I like that.

Heavyweight: 

Francis Ngannou: He’s not human. He’s at a level where his sheer power can overcome skills his opponent poses. He has great stand up, he has shown he can submit people and he’s just an all round finisher. Next year he should break top 5 and maybe even fight for the belt. This is the kind of guy that could become a huge draw because of his physical attributes (like an Arnold Schwarzenegger) and UFC matchmaking should give him some good match ups to get to the top.

Women’s Strawweight

Jessica Andrade: A powerful tank of a girl with lethal standup. When she hits girls they don’t know what to do, much like an Amanda Nunes. Since moving down to strawweight it seems as though the sky is the limit for her. With her power as well it makes it easy for her to outwrestle opponents and make them pay with vicious ground and pound.

Michelle Waterson: Waterson is an extremely skilled striker and grappler who trains with an amazing team at Jackson Wink MMA. I feel like Waterson can make a big run for the strawweight belt but if she’s paired up with Andrade it would be a tough matchup for her. Waterson may out skill Andrade in kicks and BJJ but when it comes to boxing and wrestling I’m giving the edge to Andrade and that could be the difference. I see them both being top 5 or top 3 in the near future.

Just outside the rankings who will push into the rankings:

Heavyweight

Curtis Blaydes: Great wrestling, improving striking, and a big powerful heavyweight. His only loss is to Francis Ngannou who’s one of my favourite ranked fighters to break into the top 5 for the HW division.

Light Heavyweight

Jarrod Cannonier: Since his move from heavyweight to light heavyweight he has looked really sharp and has defeated top a prospect in Ion Cutelaba who’s only loss was to my top prospect Misha Circunov. At Heavyweight he gave Cyril Asker his first loss by KO and that dudes head is ginormous, which is usually indicative of a grant chin. His chin is good but that shot Cannonier delivered was something else. Cannonier has crisp powerful strikes, decent wrestling and positional control and above all he doesn’t like to take damage. He’s got a big test ahead of him taking on Glover Teixeira who is ranked #3, if Cannonier finds a way to beat his relatively chinny opponent he will find himself ranked just like that. Not to mention the light heavyweight division is pretty shallow so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Welterweight

Santiago Ponzinibbio: Lethal striker with great accuracy and takedown defense. To tell you the truth I’m shocked that he isn’t ranked yet. He is on a 3 fight win streak and needs to dispatch of Nordine Taleb to prove he’s a real contender in that stacked division of killers. Nordine is a much stiffer striker, has fought worse competition and has had some close calls where Santiago has lost to great people and beat some killers as well. We will definitely see him ranked soon.

Flyweight

Ben Nguyen: Lethal striker with pinpoint accuracy, he was on a tear until Smolka derailed him with outstanding grappling and ground and pound in the scrambles. That was a mistake from a young fighter but since then he has hired a mental coach and had a dominant victory over Geane Herrera who had fought the better competition out of the teo. If he fights Smolka again I would easily pick Ben to win and he should keep the fight standing or scramble to his feet. If that fight does happen they basically swap ranks and my prophecy comes into fruition.

Lightweight

Will Brooks: He’s a dominant wrestler with solid striking and he trains with the killers at American Top Team. He suffered his first loss in 3 years recently to Alex Oliveira who missed weight by 10 lbs and cracked Brooks’ rib during the fight. Will was arguably winning the grappling exchanges, even with a 10 lb deficit but the pain from his rib injury proved to be too much. All that aside he was a dominant champion in balloter and I see him busting into the rankings in the UFC real soon.

Newbies who looks like prospects:

 Flyweight

Jenel Lausa: Excellent technical Muay Thai striker with a decent enough ground game to defend and even maintain top pressure. He has some serious KO power for the weight class and he’s also shown he can be measured and do what it takes to win a 3 rounder against someone who stricktly wants to take him down.

Featherweight

Shane Burgos: He trains with the likes of Jimmie Rivera and has showed he can hang with UFC fighters as well. Solid submission and smart technical stand up. Room for improvement but I see him climbing the ranks and becoming a contender.

Lightweight

Alex Volkanovski: Talented all round fighter who is a proven finisher. He was a dominant champion in another organization and his debut in the Octagon was long overdue.

Marc Diakese: He has looked great in his last two performances. What he lacks in striking he makes up for in powerful grappling capabilities. He shows everything a coach would want in a fighter to be able to mold them into an even more lethal weapon.

Drakkar Klose: His octagon debut is coming up at UFC Phoenix and it should be a dominant performance from the footage I’ve seen. He’s composed, sharp and has some serious power.

Welterweight

Abdul Razak Alhassan: KO wizard. None of his fights have made it past the 2-minute mark and he’s in it to win it. Looks like a physical specimen so with the right team and coaching the sky is the limit for young Abdul.

Middleweight

Andrew Sanchez: He’s shown he is a great grappler and does what’s necessary to control and win the fight. In his last fight he showed off a bit of his striking and beat a legit UFC vet in Trevor Smith who was on a 2 fight win streak. With the right training the sky is the limit.

Gerald Meerschaert: Another long overdue arrival into the UFC with a record of 25 and 8 (only 2 of those wins going the distance) and with past victories over the likes of Sam Alvey and Joe Gigliotti. He’s on a 6 fight win streak and has never been knocked out. He showed great grappling and submission skills against Gigliotti and should have a decent future in the UFC with some bumps along the way.

Heavyweight

Justin Ledet: He’s shown great work in the Octagon so far, utilizing his jab and even showing of some of his underrated BJJ. The guy is small for the heavy weight division but he still packs a punch and makes up for it with agility and slick boxing technique. Even if he loses or makes the drop to light heavyweight I see a cool career ahead of him. Very entertaining fighter.

People I think will fade away and we should bet against:

Michael Bisping: (If he ever fights a top 4 Middleweight again lol) he’s getting old and taken a lot of damage. He has children and other career opportunities as well. When Michael loses again he will most likely retire or only come back for super fights if the money is right.

Johnny Hendricks: Severe decline/USADA.

Anthony Pettis: Severe decline and head seems to be elsewhere.

Thiago Santos: Incredibly chinny with bad fight IQ.

Mike Pyle: Incredibly chinny and old.

Gian Villante: Terrible fight IQ and cardio, he doesn’t seem like he want this as much as his opponents.

Raphael Natal: Terrible fight IQ, old, and regressing.

Cole Miller: Head is no longer in the game.

Mid-level career resurgence:

Tim Elliot: We saw his performance against Mighty Mouse, giving him one of his most difficult tests to date. Tim Elliot may never become champ but he does have all the tools and skills to become a top contender.

Demian Maia: For obvious reasons, he’s already going through it technically.

Junior Dos Santos: They have put a really easy fight in front of him with Stephan Struve and Junior is deadly to anyone in the Heavyweight division.

Eddie Wineland: This is a maybe and it really is dependent on the match ups they give him. He has the potential to win his next 2 but I don’t see him gunning for that belt again given his poor defensive striking style. All that said I think he can win one or two more depending on the matchup.


The following is from Jonathan Murray
9.52 units profit, 22% ROI.

To Follow:
Jessica Andrade: I believe she’s going to have a breakthrough year this year. I would go as far as to say that she will be the first fighter to defeat Joanna champion should she get the opportunity.

Excellent boxing mixed with strong grappling. Having been a relatively competitive undersized 135lb’er. She’s moved on in leaps and bounds since comfortably getting to 115lbs. We know she’s durable as hell and willing to take some contact to improve her position.

I think she may be a slightly more polished version of Claudia Gadelha in the offensive grappling area. She also packs enough power and volume to potentially disrupt JJ’s rhythm.

I think she’s a great prospect at 25 and has many good years ahead of her.

To Fade:
James Gallagher
John Kavanagh’s second coming of Conor. He’s not. Not even close. I believe there’s much more hype than substance to Gallagher and personally can see him evaporating into lower level MMA shows than Bellator.

He’s a long way from the finished article and for all the bravado and talk about his ground game, he struggles to apply it against low-mid tier opposition. He’s not a great striker and has almost a one dimensional game.

He might have McGregor’s swagger and self confidence, but it’s as misplaced as claims that Cathal Pendred could be a great striker because he trained in the same gym as McGregor.

Gallagher seems to have concentrated more on marketing than the thing that will actually matter. Performance. For that reason I’m waiting on him to get some proper opposition so I can bet against him. This one is all about timing I think.

UFC Fighters to Watch in 2017

I was a little unsure whether to post this blog because it kinda pisses on itself… If I go telling people who I think are good fighters (and particularly underrated fighters), then the lines probably aren’t going to be as good. In the end I thought there are enough people doing this that this will get lost in the fog and really, I’m not that important 😛

Breaking through level 1
People already in the top 15 UFC fighter rankings, who I expect to make a push for the top of the division.

Jessica Andrade USADA is the only thing that bothers me about this pick. That aside, I think she’ll get a title shot this year and I would not be the least bit surprised if Andrade absolutely demolishes Joanna Jedrzejczyk. I think she would have smashed Moroz, so hopefully they make that matchup again.
Ranked at #5 in the official UFC rankings. MMA Junkie only have her at #11 which is fucking ridiculous considering they have Alexa Grasso at #6.
Big power, impressive wrestling, a really solid gas tank and a good chin. She doesn’t really look any different to how she looked at 135lbs and she was contending with the top of the tree there. Much, much bigger girls like Pennington, who is a very good clinch fighter and an absolute grinder, who has had her breakout year this year.
Joanna has been rocked by people with a LOT less power than Andrade. Given her good gas tank, I find it hard to envisage JJ not getting smacked around at some point and JJ does not have power to deter the Andrade attacks. So that’s basically given away what I presume will be one of my picks at some point late in the year.
I just finished listening to The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani giving out his end of year awards and predicting his end of year award winners for 2017 – Both he and his co-host predicted JJ as female fighter of 2017. I’m going with Andrade for mine (assuming she doesn’t get popped), so we shall see.
Misha Cirkunov A bit of a tricky one because it depends who he is matched up against. However, in an aging division, he’s someone I see making continued improvements and picking off a couple of the guys above him. If he gets matched up against Bader then possibly he gets wrestle-fucked but I don’t think that’s a bad matchup due to Bader’s chin. Gus looked poor in his last fight, OSP I think is a poor and massively overrated fighter, Manuwa would certainly test his chin but I’d favour Misha, Rua is pretty much done, Rumble would be an interesting fight but basically you get through the first round and a half and Rumble is there for the taking. I don’t think we’re looking at a title shot for Misha this year but a couple of competitive but impressive wins seems most likely.
This writeup could be written for Corey Anderson. The reason I haven’t gone for him is because he does look like he has a duff chin. Cirkunov looks like he has a good chin to me. His weakness is possibly his cardio, so I would want to see him perform well in a R3 before I get really confident but skills wise I think he’s legit.

Breaking through level 2
The following fighters are ranked outside the top 15 in their division but I believe will have a good year and stand a good chance of moving into that top 15.

Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman These two could be pretty interchangeable in terms of a writeup.  They would both merk a lot of guys in the top 15 and it’s a bit ridiculous that they’re not ranked already. I wouldn’t bet anyone outside of Woodley against either of them. I would definitely back them both to beat several of the top 15, though I’m not gunna say who in case those matchups get made 🙂
The knock on Covington was his standup. I actually think his standup has been pretty decent for a while (back as far as the Pyle fight) and people started to realise that a bit more in his last fight. My main problem with him is the stuff he says… he says a lot of dumb shit and that doesn’t fill me with much confidence in terms of decision making at the highest level.
Usman seems more level headed but perhaps a little less of a threat to be a finisher more long term. Again, the opportunity for prop betting the decision is there, particularly for Usman.
Justin Scoggins He lost his last fight against Munhoz but the guy is legit and that was a terrible matchup. His main problem is his lack of power but that also opens up opportunities for prop betting – Scoggins by unanimous decision.
Kevin Lee Dude is just good at stuff…. He’s good at taking you down and beating you up and he’s good enough at striking to hang with most people.
Rustam Khabilov …. by decision. Will probably wrestle-hump his way into the bottom of the top 15 where he’ll find his natural level but he’s just there to bet on by decision every time.
Santiago Ponzinibbio I’d kinda forgotten this guy existed till I had a look through the fightmatrix rankings site to see if I’d missed anyone. He’s older than I thought he was but still just about young enough to be making improvements as a semi-prospect. I would take him to beat at least 1/3 of the current top 15 at welterweight, which I think is probably the most inaccurate list in terms of actual talent at the weight.
Nordine Taleb He got a surprise KO in his last fight and if he’s added power to his game, that’s a massive bonus. A grinder in the mould of Covington but with a lower tempo… However, as very much an under the radar guy, it’s not so much I think he’s going to end up being a top 15 guy, I just think he’s going to offer value depending on the matchup.
Vicente Luque It’s possible that the impressive KOs will negate any value here. However, adding that power is something that has piqued my interest. At 25 he’s an interesting age. He’s showed poor defensive wrestling on TUF and in his loss to Michael Graves but I think that’s a hole he can fill in. I wouldn’t bet him against any dominant wrestler until we see for sure though.

Newbies
Could easily end up top 15 but more likely will just make a decent impression. Less fights and more question marks than the fighters above.

Tatiana Suarez She absolutely carved up the (decent level of) competition on TUF and in the finale. Impressive offensive grappling should be enough to pick off a lot of competition in this division. I’d have to remind myself of her standup, so that’s a possible hole.
Justin Ledet Another who could have gone in the breakthrough category. In a weak division we could easily see him zoom into the top 15 in one or two more fights. Very good striking and very good jiu jitsu but we’re yet to see his wrestling. There are a lot of big lumps at heavyweight so he could get wrestle-humped to a decision loss. He also doesn’t appear to have massive power. If he can make 205 then I’d say that was a better fit and he could be kind of like an upgraded Magnus Cedenblad. At 265lb I think the options are probably limited by his size but he’s someone I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Tyson Pedro Very little to go off but what he have seen looked impressive. A dominant grappler with power.
Matthew Lopez At this weight you kinda hit a brick wall in the top 5-8 fighters but this guy has a good all round game. He’s got nice scrambles and generally just a good, scrappy, fighter’s instinct.
Shane Burgos a Lando Vanatta-ish style perhaps in his debut (from recollection). Not the sort of fighter I like betting on because he’s a risk taker but he looked way ahead of the curve in terms of a debut fighter.

Quick Mentions & Turnarounds
Zak Cummings I think he’ll run the table on this vets season of TUF. I’m not sure he’ll do much beyond that but a season of TUF is worth a mention.
Lauren Murphy In a threadbare division, she’s been on the wrong end of some iffy decision and as such will be under-valued.
Nina Ansaroff It will be very interesting to see how she gets on this next event. Competitive fights against two good fighters in Lima and Kish but ultimately she showed tactical weakness in staying on bottom too long. She’s had a long layoff now and if she can display better takedown defense and a more urgent desire to scramble and escape, she could pick off 2 or 3 top 20 fighters.

Does betting parlays in MMA make sense?

I was prompted to write the blog after I saw two good level handicappers saying that betting parlays was a bad idea and that ultimately you end up losing money when compared to just betting the sections of the parlay individually. That seemed counter to my own experience, so I wanted to analyse it properly.

From anecdotal evidence of my personal betting, I’ve found parlays to be really successful. However, it’s possible that I was remembering all the wins and discarding losses from my memory banks. I’ve got a whole database of bets to look through though, on Bet MMA, so those stats won’t lie… let’s have a look.

I ran a script that imagined every parlay bet was for 1 unit. I then split those parlays into bits and also calculated what the total winnings / losses would have been if, instead of betting 1 unit on the whole parlay, we bet 1 unit on each of the individual sections.

Now, first of all, it certainly doesn’t look to me like you net lose by betting on parlays. For everyone in the database, here are the stats.

Number of Parlays: 1263
Won: 540 (43%), Lost: 723 (57%)
Winnings: 208 (ROI: 17%)
Average Odds: 2.32

Number of Parlay Sections: 3047
Won: 2032 (67%), Lost: 1015 (33%)
Winnings: -35 (ROI: -1%)
Average Odds: 1.46

As you can see, my initial gut instinct appears to be correct. Whilst most parlays lose, it’s more profitable to bet parlays than the individual sections of the parlays. Handicappers in our directory were risking 41% of the bank balance they’d risk betting all the individual sections, whilst actually ending up with a profit compared to what would have been a loss.

What’s also very interesting, is that people appear to have bet the wrong amounts on each parlay. Whilst betting 1 unit on every parlay in our database would have returned the above profit, the actual profit was only 16.79 units from  3,574.8 units bet.

That’s very interesting and something I’ll look into more further down the article. In terms of a few more basic stats:

For the top 10 of the MMA handicapper directory.
Number of Parlays: 218
Won: 115 (53%), Lost: 103 (47%)
Winnings: 67 (ROI: 31%)
Average Odds: 2.20

Number of Parlay Sections: 512
Won: 377 (74%), Lost: 135 (26%)
Winnings: 53 (ROI: 10%)
Average Odds: 1.43

My own public tip stats
Number of Parlays: 28
Won: 15 (54%), Lost: 13 (46%)
Winnings: 48 (ROI: 170%)
Average Odds: 3.79

Number of Parlay Sections: 95
Won: 77 (81%), Lost: 18 (19%)
Winnings: 43 (ROI: 46%)
Average Odds: 1.52

Again, from both of these two sets of stats, you can see that betting parlays is more profitable. Obviously the better handicappers at the top of the leaderboard have a higher percentage of correct overall parlays and individual picks within those parlays. We would still be making money betting the individual sections but we’d be risking a lot more and not getting as good returns.

I’m going to break it down into the profit by the number of legs in the parlay and see if that makes any difference, to see if less legs = more profit or vice versa.

Parlays with 2 legs
Number of Parlays: 892
Won: 427 (48%), Lost: 465 (52%)
Winnings: 31 (ROI: 3%)
Average Odds: 2.08

Number of Parlay Sections: 1780
Won: 1191 (67%), Lost: 589 (33%)
Winnings: -42 (ROI: -2%)
Average Odds: 1.45

Parlays with 3 legs
Number of Parlays: 266
Won: 93 (35%), Lost: 173 (65%)
Winnings: 55 (ROI: 21%)
Average Odds: 2.79

Number of Parlay Sections: 792
Won: 542 (68%), Lost: 250 (32%)
Winnings: 10 (ROI: 1%)
Average Odds: 1.44

Parlays with >3 legs
Number of Parlays: 105
Won: 20 (19%), Lost: 85 (81%)
Winnings: 123 (ROI: 117%)
Average Odds: 4.87

Number of Parlay Sections: 475
Won: 299 (63%), Lost: 176 (37%)
Winnings: -3 (ROI: -1%)
Average Odds: 1.54

Another interesting breakdown is the bet amount, so let’s look at over or under 1 unit bet on a parlay.

1 unit & over parlays
Number of Parlays: 2187
Won: 996 (46%), Lost: 1191 (54%)
Winnings: -31 (ROI: -1%)
Average Odds: 2.15

Number of Parlay Sections: 3714
Won: 2316 (62%), Lost: 1398 (38%)
Winnings: -80 (ROI: -2%)
Average Odds: 1.56

Under 1 unit parlays
Number of Parlays: 306
Won: 77 (25%), Lost: 229 (75%)
Winnings: 227 (ROI: 74%)
Average Odds: 4.41

Number of Parlay Sections: 563
Won: 249 (44%), Lost: 314 (56%)
Winnings: 30 (ROI: 5%)
Average Odds: 2.31

SO now we’ve started to hit some more meaningful numbers. We can see that when it comes to the entire directory, the larger unit bet parlays are indeed losing money although very, very marginally. On the other hand, the bets you’d probably consider a bit of a punt (where people are going big odds at a much lower stake, on more legs), are paying off pretty handsomely.

There is one huge outlier bet amongst this lot, from MMA Bets UK. massive odds mma bet

That is contributing 136 units of the 227. Even without it, you’re still looking at a good profit. However, really we shouldn’t remove it because that’s kind of the point – with big parlays, you only need to hit one every so often to have a massive impact on your profitability.

That bet also goes a little way to highlighting one of the type of bets I personally think are good value; x wins by decision. I hit these up quite regularly with my personal betting and whilst there won’t be many times when you can call 5 of them correctly all on the same event, I think they’re great value.

What I personally like to do is find one bet I think is a bit of a punt but massively over-valued, then add one some “sure thing” bets, which I think have an 85%+ chance of coming off. Below are a couple of my bets along these lines; one which came off and one which didn’t.

MMA betting, Bet MMA

As you can see, I’ve gone for one underdog pick and then a load of favourites. If the dog bit comes off and one of the favourite parts doesn’t, you end up looking like a bit of a plonker. However, for me personally, as you can see from the stats above, parlaying things together is still net paying off with higher returns.

You can also see that I was inadvertently doing what the above breakdown suggests is a good plan; betting more than you might think is a good idea on these big parlays. Had I pussed out and only put 0.5 units, that’s ~20 units I’d have missed out on.

A perfect example of which can be found in my picks from this weekend’s card. I was about 70% sure that Luis Henrique was going to get a stoppage and the odds were 3.5 (aka a 28.57% chance). That’s an enormous difference. I parlayed 2 units in there with a couple of other bits for a probable 8 unit profit (if Namajunas wins) but I’ve regretted only doing 2 units on inside the distance, not just with my tips but with my personal betting. 8U of profit off a 2U bet is nice… but if you’re confident enough that the odds are sooooooooo far off, there’s no harm in doubling that in my opinion. Especially if you have access to in-play betting, recouping a potential 4 unit loss should be no bother at all. If 4 units profit does seem like a bit of a struggle to make up… well I’d suggest following someone else’s picks from the top of our directory!

Obviously you have to hit SOME of your parlays and if you have a run of 10 misses in a row at 2 units, that’s a big problem… So, well… don’t miss that many in a row! Research a LOT, be generally cautious, but bet the big value relatively big.

In terms of poor research and the example above, I added that Over 0.5 rounds pick as a bit of a throwaway add-on, having watched plenty of Leslie Smith in the past but not having watched any tape at all for this specific matchup. I watched some tape about a week after making this bet and immediately regretted it. DO NOT rely on gut instinct!

What I’d also say is that it’s a bad idea to try and aim for a certain combined odds and bump up your parlay to those odds… e.g. “I reckon I’ll try and do a 10/1 parlay this weekend; let’s see what looks good”. Just take things as they go. Sometimes I don’t think there’s any value at all in a parlay. Sometimes I just bet a really short odds prop and be happy to take a 20% profit. However, if you’ve had an event where you’ve done a lot of research and watched several fights, parlay away, I say.

Finally, as with everything, keep a note of whether you’re actually making a profit doing it. Some people will be good at this and some won’t. There’s no shame in not being that great at parlays because it takes a lot of effort, time and research. If you don’t have that time, stick to the props!