Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC Fight Night Saskatoon – Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 10-3 (76.9%)

Year to date: 208-111 (65.2%)

UFC FIGHT NIGHT SASKATOON – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Max Holloway 53.9% Charles Oliveira 46.1%
 Neil Magny 83.1% Erick Silva 16.9%
 Josh Burkman 68.5% Patrick Cote 31.5%
 Chad Laprise 58.4% Francisco Trinaldo 41.6%
 Olivier Aubin-Mercier 60.1% Tony Sims 39.9%
 Maryna Moroz 62.3% Valerie Letourneau 37.7%
 Sam Stout 58.7% Frankie Perez 41.3%
 Felipe Arantes 56.6% Yves Jabouin 43.4%
 Marcos Rogerio de Lima 52.6% Nikita Krylov 47.4%
 Chris Beal 55.8% Chris Kelades 44.2%
 Elias Silverio 72.2% Shane Campbell 27.8%
 Misha Cirkunov 85.0% Daniel Jolly 15.0%

There is no way that Neil Magny actually has an 83% chance of beating Erick Silva. Perhaps that would be the case if the fight goes to decision, but Silva is a dangerous finisher in such a way that the model isn’t really equipped to grasp. I’m not even going to try justifying that much of a disparity between the model estimates and the betting odds (which have Silva a -175 favorite).

The model does love Misha Cirkunov’s chances, mostly because it doesn’t think much of his short-notice opponent, Daniel Jolly. Cirkunov is a 5-1 favorite according to the betting lines, so that’s actually very close to what the model says.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$7.07

Current bankroll: $276.67

Total investment: $1078.24

Total profit: $176.67

Return on investment: 16.4%

My biggest bet two weeks ago was on Chris Dempsey, a +150 underdog who ended up getting finished by Jonathan Wilson in the first round. I did win bets on Frankie Saenz, Amanda Nunes, and Chris Camozzi, but those weren’t enough to offset losses by Chris Dempsey and Anthony Christodoulou on a long-shot bet.

For this event I have…

Neil Magny +165: $29.21 to win $48.20

Josh Burkman -125: $4.47 to win $3.58

Sam Stout +120: $3.49 to win $4.19

Francisco Trinaldo +310: $3.21 to win $9.95

Charles Oliveira +205: $2.69 to win $5.51

Yves Jabouin +185: $1.60 to win $2.96

The bets are all strictly based on the model estimates (and the Kelly criterion), so that means a huge bet on Neil Magny and some smaller bets on a few other fighters. If I lose the Magny bet and win all other bets I still lose, so it’s ride or die with Magny on this one.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

UFC Fight Night Saskatoon Quick Picks

Max Holloway vs. Charles Oliveira

Holloway enters with a clear striking advantage but Oliveira’s aggressive grappling should make this a more competitive fight than people expect. The thing about Holloway is that he’s still relatively untested on the ground despite 12 UFC fights. Of his 12 opponents, only Cole Miller could be described as a submission guy, but Miller doesn’t really go for takedowns. Oliveira will test Holloway in ways he hasn’t been tested yet in the UFC. Even so, I have to pick Holloway to win due to his high-paced striking attack and Oliveira’s history of being stopped in sudden and bizarre ways.

Pick: Max Holloway by TKO

Neil Magny vs. Erick Silva

Silva’s fights are very binary: either he wins by spectacular first-round finish or he takes a sustained beating after gassing out. For that reason, Silva’s statistics are badly skewed against him and the model thinks Magny wins in a landslide. I know Silva’s a much more dangerous fighter than the model gives him credit for, and Magny is taking this fight on short notice after being engulfed by Demian Maia three weeks ago. While I’m much less confident than the model, I’m still picking Magny for the win as I think he’s better equipped to survive Silva’s early storm than some of Silva’s recent opponents.

Pick: Neil Magny by TKO

Josh Burkman vs. Patrick Cote

Burkman says he’s “pissed” about his second stint in the UFC but the reality is that he’s been over-matched. He’s simply not at Hector Lombard or Dong Hyun Kim’s level. Patrick Cote is a much more appropriate opponent, even if this seems like a fight straight out of 2007. Cote is known for being a tough out but Burkman really is the more well-rounded fighter and better wrestler. In the best of times, I see a relatively even striking match, but if Burkman gets his takedown game going, I think he can win by clear decision. I see Burkman as a value at -135 odds.

Pick: Josh Burkman by decision

Chad Laprise vs. Francisco Trinaldo

I’m not sure what Chad Laprise has done to earn his status as a -360 favorite against Trinaldo. Laprise last fought Bryan Barberena and actually got out-scored in that fight, with Barberena landing 94 significant strikes to Laprise’s 84. While Trinaldo’s window to become a lightweight contender has come and gone, and he is now 36 years old, I still think he can be very competitive in this fight. Both guys are above average strikers but Trinaldo packs a bit more power. Laprise’s seven year youth advantage is enough for me to pick him but Trinaldo should not be a 3-1 underdog here.

Pick: Chad Laprise by decision

Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Tony Sims

Aubin-Mercier is generally a bit overhyped; for a while he was drawing comparisons to Georges St-Pierre, which I can only imagine was just because he’s a talented guy fighting out of Quebec. He’s not that kind of talent, but he does have an excellent ground game and is fighting a short-notice opponent in Tony Sims. Sims is something of a knockout artist and should be dangerous at standing distance, but I doubt Aubin-Mercier will give him much room to work with. As long as Aubin-Mercier makes this a grappling match he should have a distinct advantage.

Pick: Olivier Aubin-Mercier by submission

Valerie Letourneau vs. Maryna Moroz

Moroz is coming off a surprising submission victory over Joanne Calderwood in Germany earlier this year. Now she’s a favorite to beat Valerie Letourneau, a fighter who has shown a fairly well-rounded game, but hasn’t yet faced a high level of competition in the UFC. The model likes Moroz for the win primarily due to her youth advantage; she enters at 23 years old while Letourneau is 32. Even though the model is in agreement with the betting odds, I can’t shake the feeling that perhaps Moroz being a -190 favorite is an overreaction to the Calderwood win. Even so…

Pick: Maryna Moroz by submission

PRELIM PICKS

  • Frankie Perez had a dismal debut against Johnny Case. Sam Stout isn’t as good as Case but he at least can land a lot of strikes. Stout by decision.
  • Yves Jabouin is basically a low-level gatekeeper at this point; fighters good enough for the UFC should be able to beat him. Felipe Arantes should have the talent. Arantes by TKO.
  • Nikita Krylov has a more well-rounded arsenal but Marcos Rogerio de Lima packs some serious knockout power. I don’t see this one going the distance. Rogerio de Lima by TKO.
  • Chris Kelades is tough and good at surviving but Chris Beal really is the better talent. Beal by decision.
  • Elias Silverio is a very good prospect while Shane Campbell had a dismal debut against John Makdessi. I think Silverio cruises here. Silverio by decision.
  • Misha Cirkunov and Daniel Jolly are both making their debut, but Jolly is taking this fight on short notice and doesn’t have many quality wins on his record. Cirkunov by TKO.

UFC Fight Night Nashville: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

This is a pretty strong card for a Fight Night event and features a very competitive light-heavyweight main event. Let’s get to it.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 9-4 (69.2%)

Year to date: 198-108 (64.7%)

UFC FIGHT NIGHT NASHVILLE – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Glover Teixeira 50.5% Ovince St-Preux 49.5%
 Michael Johnson 62.5% Beneil Dariush 37.5%
 Derek Brunson 59.2% Sam Alvey 40.8%
 Jared Rosholt 59.8% Timothy Johnson 40.2%
 Sara McMann 50.9% Amanda Nunes 49.1%
 Ray Borg 69.4% Geane Herrera 30.6%
 Uriah Hall 72.6% Oluwale Bamgbose 27.4%
 Chris Camozzi 70.0% Tom Watson 30.0%
 Dustin Ortiz 63.1% Willie Gates 36.9%
 Frankie Saenz 64.1% Sirwan Kakai 35.9%
 Chris Dempsey 68.1% Jonathan Wilson 31.9%
 Marlon Vera 58.0% Roman Salazar 42.0%
 Scott Holtzman 62.4% Anthony Christodoulou 37.6%

The betting public has Glover Teixeira vs. Ovince St-Preux as a pick ’em fight and the model agrees. Teixiera should have the advantage in takedowns but St-Preux should have the advantage in strikes, as Teixeira gets hit at an above-average rate. Both fighters hit reasonably hard and both have a sturdy chin. I see the fight going the five-round distance, but if it does the decision really could go either way.

Fast-rising Beneil Dariush is set to face top ten opponent Michael Johnson. If Dariush can get Johnson to the ground, he should have a massive advantage in submissions. But Johnson is tough to take down and has developed into one of the better pressure strikers in the division. Johnson has plenty of knockout power and Dariush has been rocked by strikes before. The overall edge goes to Johnson but Dariush can make him look bad if he can land the takedown.

The model likes Uriah Hall as the most likely fighter to win on the card, which I wasn’t expecting. Whenever I see Hall as a 4-1 favorite in the UFC I immediately assume I’ll be betting on his opponent. But Oluwale Bamgbose lacks the quality wins necessary to get a lot of respect from the model. From watching Bamgbose on video, it seems like he’s the kind of violent striker who can match Hall’s skill standing. Of course, things become different very quickly at a higher level of competition.

The biggest disparity between the betting lines and the model comes with Chris Dempsey, a 68% favorite to win according to the model but a +150 underdog according to the sportsbooks. Opponent Jonathan Wilson seems like the more fluid and talented striker, but Dempsey is a hard-nosed wrestler who could push him into deep waters. The model’s record on prelim fights like this is strong but we’ll see what happens.

Then there’s Anthony Christodoulou, who looked atrocious in his UFC debut against Mairbek Taisumov and is now a +660 underdog against Scott Holtzman. On one hand I’m skeptical of such drastic odds with fighters who don’t have much UFC experience. On the other, Christodoulou was just such an inferior athlete and fighter against Taisumov. I think the truth is probably somewhere between the odds and the model estimates.

Underdog picks for this event include: Frankie Saenz and Chris Dempsey, and I’m quite surprised to see Saenz as an underdog here.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: +$4.26

Current bankroll: $283.74

Total investment: $1,039.50

Total profit: $183.74

Return on investment: 17.7%

I had very little at risk for UFC 190 last week, but my top two bets were winners thanks to Patrick Cummins and Bigfoot. The result is a small win and, more importantly for my psyche, a snapped losing streak.

For this event I have…

Chris Dempsey +150: $10.33 to win $15.50

Frankie Saenz +105: $5.00 to win $5.25

Anthony Christodoulou +660: $4.59 to win $30.29

Amanda Nunes +230: $4.33 to win $9.96

Chris Camozzi -145: $4.22 to win $2.91

Sam Alvey +355: $3.73 to win $13.24

Willie Gates +375: $2.94 to win $11.03

Geane Herrera +423: $1.94 to win $8.21

Timothy Johnson +215: $1.66 to win $3.57

I should also mention Amanda Nunes, an underdog against Sara McMann. I’m a little more skeptical than the model here – McMann is certainly a flawed fighter but Nunes has such a history of being done after one round. With McMann having an obvious takedown advantage, will Nunes have the ground skill to submit or reverse position? We’ll find out…

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

UFC 190: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 8-4 (66.7%)

Year to date: 189-104 (64.5%)

When there are a lot of upsets, my pick percentage goes down, but my degenerate gambling bankroll goes up. When there aren’t so many upsets, the opposite happens. So I suppose the silver lining to the losing streak I’ve been on is that my pick percentage has been steadily increasing.

UFC 190 – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Ronda Rousey 78.8% Bethe Correia 21.2%
 Mauricio Rua 56.0% Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 44.0%
 Fernando Bruno 61.9% Glaico Franca 38.1%
 Dileno Lopes 55.2% Reginaldo Vieira 44.8%
 Stefan Struve 57.1% Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 42.9%
 Antonio Silva 61.8% Soa Palelei 38.2%
 Claudia Gadelha 63.1% Jessica Aguilar 36.9%
 Demian Maia 53.7% Neil Magny 46.3%
 Patrick Cummins 85.6% Rafael Cavalcante 14.4%
 Warlley Alves 53.6% Nordine Taleb 46.4%
 Leandro Issa 52.2% Iuri Alcantara 47.8%
 Clint Hester 74.6% Vitor Miranda 25.4%
 Hugo Viana 68.9% Guido Cannetti 31.1%

The estimate for Ronda Rousey – 78.8% – can be safely ignored in my opinion. Generally speaking, statistical models have difficulty forecasting events on the extreme ends of the spectrum – outliers. Rousey is a perfect example of an outlier in the MMA world. There just haven’t been enough fighters like Rousey to model. She finishes fights so quickly that the model just doesn’t have the data it needs to really understand how good she is. I think the betting lines, which have Rousey in the -1500 to -1900 range, are a better indicator in this situation.

The number that jumps off the page is Patrick Cummins at 85.6%. The model hates this matchup for Rafael “Feijao,” who was taken down seven times by Ryan Bader, and now faces another strong wrestler in Cummins. Significant strike and takedown data leans heavily towards Cummins, and Feijao doesn’t have the recent quality wins necessary to overcome that. The result is the expectation of a lopsided fight, even if Feijao still has the potential to knock Cummins out with one punch.

The model is also contrarian with Warlley Alves and Nordine Taleb. I’ve seen people saying that Alves is a good betting value, but the model thinks the opposite. Taleb has put up some good numbers as a wrestle-boxer type while Alves deserved to lose against Alan Jouban. The model still likes Alves but not for betting value.

Underdog picks for this event include: Fernando Bruno, Antonio Silva, and Leandro Issa.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$1.38

Current bankroll: $279.48

Total investment: $1026.83

Total profit: $179.48

Return on investment: 17.5%

Sadly, my losing streak extended to five events with last week’s UFC on Fox. Tom Lawlor came through with a second-round knockout of Gian Villante, but Ramsey Nijem lost by decision to Andrew Holbrook… in a decision that everybody thought should have gone to Nijem. Poor judging is nothing new, and I’ve been the beneficiary of it before, but it still stings when it goes against me.

For this event I have…

Patrick Cummins -165: $6.19 to win $3.75

Antonio Silva +175: $2.54 to win $4.45

Fernando Bruno +155: $2.27 to win $3.52

Leandro Issa +220: $1.67 to win $3.67

That’s it, just four bets for this event. There are other bets I could make, but I’ve decided to only place the bets that risk at least 0.5 percent of bankroll, as smaller bets are inconsequential in the long run.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

UFC 190 Prediction: Bethe Correia vs. Ronda Rousey

The selection of Bethe Correia as a challenger to face Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight championship is a sign that the UFC is running out of contenders in the division.

In two and a half years since debuting in the UFC, Rousey has already defeated Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate, Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano. Rousey defeated McMann, Davis, and Zingano in a combined 96 seconds. Only once has Rousey been out of the first round, but her eventual third-round submission victory over Tate was still a very one-sided fight.

Next up is Correia, whose UFC resume includes three victories: a split decision win over Julie Kedzie, a unanimous decision win over Jessamyn Duke, and a TKO win against Shayna Baszler in her last fight. The wins over Duke and Baszler were part of a campaign by Correia to take out the “four horsewomen”: Duke, Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Rousey.

I always found the idea of defeating the four horsewomen to be a silly angle. Duke is clearly towards the bottom of the UFC women’s bantamweight division; she’s 1-3 in the UFC and just lost to Elizabeth Phillips. Baszler has been cut from the roster after one-sided losses to Correia and Amanda Nunes. Shafir is 1-2 in MMA after consecutive 37-second TKO losses and might not ever make it into the UFC. Comparing these fighters to Rousey is laughable.

And that’s the problem. The best argument Correia can make for deserving a title shot is that she’s defeated two of Rousey’s friends. Those wins are only enough to place Correia in the middle tier of the division, and now she’s fighting Rousey, who has run through the top tier of the division like a hot knife through butter.

Generally speaking, the best chance a fighter like Correia can have of beating Rousey is to win by sudden knockout, but Correia hasn’t shown the ability to win fights that way. Seven of her nine wins have gone the distance, and her TKO win over Baszler was due to an accumulation of strikes. It’s safe to say that Correia won’t be landing the same volume of strikes on Rousey.

In the end, I would say that Correia’s best chance of winning this fight is if Rousey injures herself while throwing Correia to the ground. If that doesn’t illustrate how lopsided this fight is, then I don’t know what would. Of course, I could mention the current betting lines: Rousey the favorite at -1700, Correia the underdog at +1100.

Pick: Ronda Rousey by submission

OTHER PICKS

  • Nothing says “PRIDE NEVER DIE” like having Mauricio “Shogun” Rua battle Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-main event of a UFC pay-per-view in 2015. There’s almost no chance this rematch can live up to the quality of their amazing fight from ten years ago. Both fighters are fragile at this point but Shogun still has better knockout power. Shogun by TKO.
  • Fernando Bruno over Glaico Franca.
  • Dileno Lopes over Reginaldo Vieira.
  • Speaking of fragile, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is on this fight card as well, and is taking on Stefan Struve. Nogueira once won fights with an incredible chin and a tricky submission game. At this point, Nogueira’s chin is completely gone and his submission game has mostly been figured out. This pick would have been unthinkable years ago, but… Struve by TKO.
  • I did a double-take when I saw that Soa Palelei was the favorite against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. I understand it: after knockout losses to Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir, Silva is very hard to trust. Palelei has knockout power for sure, but Silva really is the more skilled fighter, both standing and on the ground. I see this as a “buy low” opportunity. Bigfoot by TKO.
  • WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar claims that she’s the true champion of the women’s strawweight division. The UFC is giving her the opportunity to prove it by having her face Claudia Gadelha in her UFC debut. It’s nothing against Aguilar, but I see Gadelha as the fighter to eventually beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk… so I’m not going to pick her to lose now. Gadelha by decision.
  • Neil Magny’s finally getting the step up in competition I’ve been calling for as he’s set to face Demian Maia. Maia is likely in the twilight of his career but he’s still an exceptional grappler. Magny should have a huge advantage standing, but his takedown defense is questionable, and he did get submitted by Sergio Moraes a couple years ago. It’s close, but… Maia by submission.
  • My statistical model hates Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, a slugger who has consistently been out-struck and out-wrestled in his recent career. Feijao got dominated by Ryan Bader, who took him down with relative ease last year. Patrick Cummins isn’t Bader, but he’s still a capable wrestler who I expect to ground and pound Feijao for three rounds. Cummins by decision.
  • Warlley Alves over Nordine Taleb.
  • Leandro Issa over Iuri Alcantara, who never did figure out how to defend takedowns.
  • Clint Hester over Vitor Miranda.
  • Hugo Viana over Guido Cannetti.

UFC on Fox Chicago: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

Apologies for getting this post out somewhat late. I’ve been VERY busy focused on other things so I can only provide the bare minimum of coverage for this fight card.

Good thing I have a model that tells me who to pick and who to bet on… although it’s on its worst losing streak since I debuted it at the beginning of the year. Let’s snap that streak with this UFC on Fox event.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 9-3 (75.0%)

Year to date: 181-100 (64.4%)

UFC ON FOX CHICAGO – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 T.J. Dillashaw 71.6% Renan Barao 28.4%
 Miesha Tate 50.1% Jessica Eye 49.9%
 Edson Barboza 67.7% Paul Felder 32.3%
 Joe Lauzon 51.7% Takanori Gomi 48.3%
 Tom Lawlor 71.0% Gian Villante 29.0%
 Danny Castillo 51.4% Jim Miller 48.6%
 Kenny Robertson 57.6% Ben Saunders 42.4%
 Bryan Caraway 53.7% Eddie Wineland 46.3%
 Daron Cruickshank 59.5% James Krause 40.5%
 Ramsey Nijem 80.4% Andrew Holbrook 19.6%
 Jessamyn Duke 59.2% Elizabeth Phillips 40.8%
 Zak Cummings 50.8% Dominique Steele 49.2%

It’s amazing how much the public opinion of T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao has flipped. When they first fought, Dillashaw was a 7-1 underdog and considered a long shot to win (not by me, but by most people). After Dillashaw’s one-sided beatdown of Barao at UFC 173, Barao’s fainting and injury prior to weighing in at UFC 177, and Barao struggling in a win over Mitch Gagnon, Dillashaw is now the solid favorite to win the rematch at -225. The model agrees: Dillashaw is likely to defend his title successfully.

It sees Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye as a coin flip. It’s an interesting fight because Eye should be the better striker, but she’s only fought fellow strikers in the UFC (Leslie Smith, Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman). This will be Eye’s first UFC fight against a wrestler. If she can defend Tate’s takedowns, I like her chances, but that’s easier said than done.

I’m hyped for Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder. Felder looked terrific in a knockout win over Danny Castillo in his last fight, so he has some hype behind him right now. Barboza looked less good in a loss to Michael Johnson, and could be considered a “post-hype” fighter, somebody whose hype has cooled off considerably. The model has Barboza a 2-1 favorite in what should be a striking battle.

It also gives Takanori Gomi a much better chance of winning than the odds would suggest. Gomi has been around forever; he was once the #1 lightweight in the world but now I’ve seen very little excitement for this match against Joe Lauzon, even from a nostalgic standpoint. Gomi’s striking defense and ground game are a mess, so it’s most likely that Lauzon will find a way to submit him at some point. But Gomi should be the better striker, even as far past his prime as he is.

The model deviates wildly from the betting lines on Tom Lawlor, Ramsey Nijem, and Dominique Steele. Lawlor has been on the shelf for a long time now, but has strong Fight Metric statistics, as does Nijem. Nijem makes me really nervous because it seems like he falls apart so easily when he fights. Steele is making his UFC debut, but I can’t figure out what Cummings has done to earn his status as a 3-1 favorite.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$12.59

Current bankroll: $280.86

Total investment: $1004.07

Total profit: $180.86

Return on investment: 18.0%

The model had a few wins at last week’s event from Glasgow, but the biggest bets were on losers Ivan Jorge and Chris De La Rocha, neither of whom lasted long in their respective fights.

For this event I have…

Tom Lawlor +185: $6.39 to win $11.82

Ramsey Nijem -135: $6.04 to win $4.47

Dominique Steele +290: $2.39 to win $6.93

Jessamyn Duke +145: $2.33 to win $3.38

Takanori Gomi +295: $2.30 to win $6.79

Edson Barboza -130: $1.79 to win $1.38

Jessica Eye +185: $1.52 to win $2.81

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

UFC Fight Night Glasgow – Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

I won’t be providing a lot of commentary for this event, the fourth in eight days for the UFC.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 9-3 (75.0%)

Year to date: 172-96 (64.2%)

UFC FIGHT NIGHT GLASGOW – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Thales Leites 53.2% Michael Bisping 46.8%
 Ross Pearson 55.2% Evan Dunham 44.8%
 Joseph Duffy 56.0% Ivan Jorge 44.0%
 Joanne Calderwood 64.4% Cortney Casey 35.6%
 Leon Edwards 63.3% Pawel Pawlak 36.7%
 Steven Ray 66.6% Leonardo Mafra 33.4%
 Patrick Holohan 59.1% Vaughan Lee 40.9%
 Ilir Latifi 50.7% Hans Stringer 49.3%
 Mickael Lebout 52.1% Teemu Packalen 47.9%
 Robert Whiteford 67.4% Paul Redmond 32.6%
 Jimmie Rivera 68.2% Marcus Brimage 31.8%
 Chris De La Rocha 60.4% Daniel Omielanczuk 39.6%

The one thing I do want to talk about is the Joe Duffy-Ivan Jorge fight. Duffy is a massive favorite, currently listed at -800 odds to beat Jorge. As far as I can tell, there are two main reasons for this. One is that Duffy looks to have very clean, crisp technique, which he displayed in a quick win over Jake Lindsey in his UFC debut. The other is that Duffy has a win over the notorious one, Conor McGregor.

I find this to be, at best, reckless on the part of the betting public. As skilled as Duffy may be, he still enters this fight at 1-0 in the UFC, with the win coming against Jake Lindsey. Before that, he scored a number of wins against quality competition in Cage Warriors, but also lost a fight to Ivan Musardo by guillotine choke. Yes, Duffy was beating Musardo handily before being submitted, but it’s a loss nonetheless. My point is that Duffy hasn’t exactly been beating the top guys in the world.

…Except McGregor, who Duffy beat by submission in the first minute. But that was back when McGregor didn’t know the ground game at all. You know who else submitted Conor McGregor? Artemij Sitenkov, a Lithuanian fighter currently competing in the flyweight division with a professional record of 15-13.

I don’t say this to suggest that Duffy is going to lose to Jorge, because I don’t think that will happen. I’m simply arguing that Duffy doesn’t deserve to be an 8-1 favorite to win… not even close.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$20.72

Current bankroll: $293.45

Total investment: $944.57

Total profit: $193.45

Return on investment: 20.5%

It’s a rare three-event losing streak for the statistical model, in which time my overall ROI has declined from 33% to 20.5%. The worst thing to do in this situation is overreact – downswings happen and the overall record of the model is still very good.

For this event I have…

Ivan Jorge +550: $11.89 to win $65.40

Chris De La Rocha +130: $9.94 to win $12.92

Jimmie Rivera -125: $9.25 to win $7.40

Hans Stringer +200: $7.33 to win $14.66

Robert Whiteford -145: $5.87 to win $4.05

Evan Dunham +200: $4.83 to win $9.66

Pawel Pawlak +290: $4.07 to win $11.80

Cortney Casey +290: $3.60 to win $10.44

Mickael Lebout +115: $2.72 to win $3.13

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets in any way. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

UFC Fight Night San Diego – Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

If the UFC is going to have three events in a five-day span, I guess this is the time of year to do it. With baseball in an All-Star break, there just isn’t anything around to get a sports fix… except the fights. And this Fight Night card is actually pretty good, so let’s take a look.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 9-2 (81.8%)

Year to date: 163-93 (63.7%)

Degenerate gambling didn’t go great for the TUF Finale on Sunday but my straight-up picks sure did. Of the five underdogs I picked to win out-right, four of them ended up getting their hand raised.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT SAN DIEGO – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Todd Duffee 51.5% Frank Mir 48.5%
 Tony Ferguson 59.4% Josh Thomson 40.6%
 Marion Reneau 50.3% Holly Holm 49.7%
 Manny Gamburyan 63.8% Scott Jorgensen 36.2%
 Kevin Lee 78.3% James Moontasri 21.7%
 Alan Jouban 52.9% Matt Dwyer 47.1%
 Sam Sicilia 67.9% Yaotzin Meza 32.1%
 Jessica Andrade 63.9% Sarah Moras 36.1%
 Rani Yahya 54.3% Masanori Kanehara 45.7%
 Sean Strickland 69.6% Igor Araujo 30.4%
 Ildemar Alcantara 55.2% Kevin Casey 44.8%
 Lyman Good 62.9% Andrew Craig 37.1%

The model sees the heavyweight main event between Todd Duffee and Frank Mir as a virtual coin flip. Duffee is considered the favorite to win due to massive punching power, top-notch athleticism, and Mir’s very questionable durability. However, I expect Mir to be a very dangerous opponent, as he hits hard himself, Duffee’s chin is pretty bad too, and Mir should be far superior to Duffee on the ground. I’m fully on board with the model’s depiction of this being a fight that could go either way.

Another fight the model sees as a toss-up is the women’s bantamweight match between Holly Holm and Marion Reneau, with the slightest of edges going to Reneau. Holm entered the UFC with a huge amount of hype, due to her background as a champion in boxing, her training with Greg Jackson, and a series of highlight-reel kicks in promotions like Legacy FC. However, Holm’s debut against Raquel Pennington left a lot to be desired. By contrast, Reneau entered the UFC with zero hype but has looked very impressive in wins over Alexis Dufresne and Jessica Andrade. Reneau’s performances were just strong enough for the model to give her the nod over the favorite in Holm.

There’s also Kevin Lee, a fighter I’ve been hyping as a potential lightweight contender since his debut loss to Al Iaquinta. Lee was a very raw prospect then, but his young age and strong record indicated a great talent with huge room for improvement. Lee has done just that – improving to the point where he’s become a formidable wrestle-boxer. Opponent James Moontasri has punching power and submission skills, but I think Lee will be too much for him to handle.

Underdog picks on this event include: Reneau and Rani Yahya, who is at virtually even odds against Masanori Kanehara. The model doesn’t feel like being very adventurous today.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$4.82

Current bankroll: $314.17

Total investment: $874.99

Total profit: $214.17

Return on investment: 24.5%

On one hand, I placed bets on eight underdogs at the TUF Finale, and four of them won. On the other hand, my biggest bet by far was on Jake Ellenberger, who got smoked by Stephen Thompson. Ellenberger looks a lot like a nine-year rule victim right now. He’s only 30 years old, but is 1-4 in his last five fights, and 1-3 since becoming a nine-year veteran of the sport. It’s possible that Ellenberger is just a shot fighter despite his relatively young age.

It’s also my second losing event in a row, so let’s get a winning event in before it can be called a streak.

For this event I have…

Matt Dwyer +380: $15.92 to win $60.50

Kevin Lee -245: $10.76 to win $4.39

Marion Reneau +185: $9.81 to win $18.15

Frank Mir +175: $7.55 to win $13.21

Sarah Moras +300: $5.57 to win $16.71

Andrew Craig +245: $4.13 to win $10.12

Manny Gamburyan -145: $4.09 to win $2.82

Rani Yahya +100: $3.02 to win $3.02

Josh Thomson +185: $2.98 to win $5.51

Igor Araujo +315: $2.90 to win $9.14

Ildemar Alcantara -105: $2.85 to win $2.71

Perhaps the most unique thing about my betting strategy has been the willingness to place a big bet on a big underdog. While that’s led to some embarrassing defeats, it’s also led to victories with fighters like Frankie Saenz, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Andrei Arlovski. It’s a contrarian approach, which is probably why it’s been so successful on the whole. Or perhaps I’ve been the beneficiary of some major positive variance?

Either way, the biggest bet of this event is on another big underdog in Matt Dwyer, who is taking on a tough opponent in Alan Jouban. The model doesn’t see what the big deal is about Jouban, who’s been great offensively but very vulnerable defensively. At the same time, Dwyer’s chin is VERY suspect, so a quick Jouban KO wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

TUF 21 Finale: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

Before I get into tomorrow’s TUF Finale event, some quick thoughts on UFC 189:

-There were two questions a lot of people had about Conor McGregor going into his fight against Chad Mendes. One, would McGregor be capable of defeating a truly top-tier opponent? Two, how would McGregor handle a good, old-fashioned American wrestler?

The answers to the questions: yes, McGregor can beat top-tier opponents, and no, he doesn’t handle a tough wrestler particularly well. Fortunately for McGregor, he has a gift for genuine punching power in both hands, accuracy, and the ability to win a fight at a moment’s notice.

With that said, McGregor also got hit hard quite a few times standing against Mendes, largely due to his aggression and wide-open stance. I still believe that Jose Aldo would get the better of McGregor standing if they fought. Aldo has lightning-fast hands and much tighter and technical defense. But credit where it’s due: there’s no denying that McGregor has earned his title shot now.

-As somebody who had bet on Mendes, I was dismayed to see him fatigued near the end of the first round, and again towards the end of the second (where Mendes was ultimately stopped). I’m guessing he was the victim of a massive adrenaline dump; by all accounts, Mendes was in good shape for the fight and had been training before getting the call to fight McGregor on short notice. Mendes has slowed down in fights before but generally not in the first two rounds.

-If you told me that Rory MacDonald would fail to land a takedown against Robbie Lawler, then I would have picked Lawler to win the fight. With that said, MacDonald seemed to have Lawler in trouble near the end of the third round, but couldn’t seal the deal… and then suddenly fell apart in the fifth round when Lawler smashed his nose. I had MacDonald up three rounds to one at that point, but I’m biased. As for Lawler, all he does is prove me wrong, but he delivers incredible entertainment in each and every fight, so I’m not bitter.

Brandon Thatch is clearly deficient on the ground, and it seems to have had a negative impact on his striking. When Gunnar Nelson knocked Thatch down, Thatch’s hands were low and to the side – and his head was wide open. It was clear that Thatch’s primary focus was on making sure Nelson didn’t take him down, because he wasn’t confident that he could survive Nelson’s ground game (rightly so). It was a great adjustment by Nelson to blast Thatch in the face. Often a fighter needs to earn his opponent’s respect standing to open up opportunites for takedowns – as Rafael Dos Anjos did against Anthony Pettis. Of course, Nelson didn’t need a takedown after his big right hand.

-The whole main card was tremendous… and now there’s another UFC event on Sunday night. Is anybody motivated to watch the TUF Finale? I have interest in the main event between Jake Ellenberger and Stephen Thompson, but that’s about it. It reminds me of UFC 100, where Jon Fitch and Paulo Thiago were used as the “flex fight,” meaning that it would only be broadcast on the main card if there was enough time. Sure enough, the fight ended up happening after the Brock LesnarFrank Mir main event. For those in the crowd, I’m sure the feeling was “well, we paid to watch the fights, so I’ll stick around for this one, I guess?” I have a similar feeling for the TUF Finale event.

Speaking of which… let’s get to the degenerate gambling.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 6-5 (54.5%)

Year to date: 154-91 (62.9%)

TUF 21 FINALE – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Jake Ellenberger 61.6% Stephen Thompson 38.4%
 Kamaru Usman 56.7% Hayder Hassan 43.3%
 Michael Graves 57.3% Vicente Luque 42.7%
 Jorge Masvidal 72.4% Cezar Ferreira 27.6%
 Michelle Waterson 76.3% Angela Magana 23.7%
 Maximo Blanco 55.4% Mike De La Torre 44.6%
 Josh Samman 55.0% Caio Magalhaes 45.0%
 Russell Doane 77.4% Jerrod Sanders 22.6%
 Trevor Smith 57.6% Dan Miller 42.4%
 George Sullivan 51.4% Dom Waters 48.6%
 Willie Gates 56.4% Darrell Montague 43.6%

The model likes Jake Ellenberger as a moderate favorite over Stephen Thompson, but the betting markets have it the exact opposite. It’s not hard to see why. Ellenberger had lost a series of fights before rebounding with a win over Josh Koscheck in February – but even in that win, Ellenberger didn’t exactly look great, and that’s with a shot Koscheck as his opponent.

Even so, this is a big step up in competition for Thompson, who hasn’t had to face many wrestlers in the UFC. We’ll see how he handles this one. Part of me is rooting for Thompson as he’s a lot of fun to watch when he’s on point.

Underdog picks for this event include: Ellenberger, Michael Graves, Josh Samman, Trevor Smith, and Willie Gates. Graves, Samman, Smith, and Gates are only very slight underdogs.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$21.97

Current bankroll: $318.99

Total investment: $800.24

Total profit: $218.99

Return on investment: 27.4%

Betting on Cathal Pendred finally caught up to me, although the judges somehow almost scored the fight for him again! Maybe my model has hidden mind-reading powers that can tell what judges are thinking.

Pendred and Mendes were my two biggest bets, but fortunately I got wins from Gunnar Nelson and Cody Pfister to avoid a result that was too negative.

For this event I have…

Jake Ellenberger +175: $23.89 to win $41.81

Dom Waters +185: $9.56 to win $17.69

Michael Graves +115: $9.18 to win $10.56

Trevor Smith +110: $8.56 to win $9.42

Josh Samman +125: $8.53 to win $10.66

Willie Gates +105: $6.35 to win $6.67

Hayder Hassan +185: $5.27 to win $9.75

Angela Magana +505: $3.41 to win $17.22

Yes, that’s a long-shot bet on Angela Magana, who is taking on the debuting Michelle Waterson. I do think “The Karate Hottie” is quite a bit overhyped, but… Magana is just not very good. We’ll see what happens.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights! …Assuming you’re not a hungover Irishman in Las Vegas, in which case there’s a zero percent chance you’ll be watching this event.

UFC 189: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

I know you’ve been waiting for it… and now it’s here. Better late than never, here’s the degenerate gambler’s corner for UFC 189:

2015 PICKS

Last event: 6-3 (66.7%)

Year to date: 148-87 (63.0%)

UFC 189 – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Chad Mendes 57.2% Conor McGregor 42.8%
 Rory MacDonald 71.8% Robbie Lawler 28.2%
 Dennis Bermudez 69.2% Jeremy Stephens 30.8%
 Gunnar Nelson 55.4% Brandon Thatch 44.6%
 Thomas Almeida 83.6% Brad Pickett 16.4%
 Matt Brown 61.2% Tim Means 38.8%
 Alex Garcia 69.4% Mike Swick 30.6%
 Cathal Pendred 78.2% John Howard 21.8%
 Cody Garbrandt 76.6% Henry Briones 23.4%
 Louis Smolka 53.7% Neil Seery 46.3%
 Cody Pfister 51.4% Yosdenis Cedeno 48.6%

Chad Mendes opened at -130 on the sportsbooks and the statistical model agrees with that line. Of course, since then there have been a tremendous number of bets on Conor McGregor, shifting the line on Mendes all the way to +168. It’s possible that the legions of Irish fans will give McGregor a home advantage of sorts in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, making him less of an underdog than the model anticipates.

The model also sees Rory MacDonald as a solid favorite over Robbie Lawler despite losing their first fight. That’s a very intriguing co-main event that’s flying under the radar.

Underdog picks for this event include: Mendes and Gunnar Nelson. The model also likes Cody Pfister by a very narrow margin, but my official pick is Cedeno due to the relatively strong betting line of -200.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: +$4.93

Current bankroll: $340.96

Total investment: $734.87

Total profit: $240.96

Return on investment: 32.8%

The last event was a strange one, in which my biggest bet was on the unheralded Sirwan Kakai. Fortunately, Kakai was able to out-point Danny Martinez and help me win a small amount for the event two weeks ago.

For this event I have…

Cathal Pendred -110: $26.43 to win $24.03

Chad Mendes +168: $10.37 to win $17.42

Gunnar Nelson +160: $8.48 to win $13.57

Rory MacDonald -165: $7.55 to win $4.58

Cody Pfister +185: $7.49 to win $13.86

Mike Swick +355: $2.78 to win $9.87

Henry Briones +540: $2.27 to win $12.26

Cathal Pendred… here we go again. The model loved Cathal Pendred when he fought Sean Spencer, and Pendred got away with a terrible decision. The model loved Pendred again against Augusto Montano, and Pendred was able to grind out another decision victory. Now the model loves Pendred for a third time this year. Hopefully the Irish fans can help propel him to victory against John Howard.

Gunnar Nelson makes me nervous, since he got lit up by Rick Story and now faces terrifying striker Brandon Thatch. I’m hoping that Nelson will only need a single takedown to then eventually finish by submission. If Nelson can’t get the takedown then it’s hard to see this fight going his way.

I don’t actually like the bets on Swick or Briones, but the model says to do it, and it’s the same model that’s grown a $100 bankroll into $340 in half a year. So I’m placing the bets and fully expecting both fighters to lose.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a betting professional and I do NOT recommend you follow my bets in any serious way. Any bets you make are done at your own risk.

Best of luck and enjoy the fights!

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