Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

2015 Fantasy Fights Wrap-Up

We’ve reached the end of 2015, so let’s review the last 12 months of UFC predictions and degenerate gambling.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 5-7 (41.7%)

Picks for year: 302-165 (64.7%)

For the year, the statistical model I developed correctly predicted the outcome of about 65 percent of UFC fights. That record compares quite favorably to the record of a lot of people who make predictions (without naming any names). My previous attempts to use stats to make predictions for UFC fights ended up ranging between a 58 percent accuracy and a 63 percent accuracy, so this is a pretty good improvement.


Last event: +$56.04

Current bankroll: $345.03

Total investment: $1,945.94

Total profit: $245.03

Return on investment: 12.6%

It’s nice to end the year on a winning note, especially considering how awful my picks were for the previous week’s three UFC events of doom. My biggest bet at UFC on Fox was on Sarah Kaufman, who actually lost to Valentina Shevchenko, but I made up for that loss with three big underdog wins: Karolina Kowalkiewicz +185, Nate Marquardt +355, and Nate Diaz +375.

Here is a chart showing how my gambling picks did for the year:

degenerate gambling

As you can see, my bankroll grew at a tremendous rate in the first half of the year. That’s largely thanks to big underdog wins on guys like Frankie Saenz (+600 vs. Iuri Alcantara), Rafael Dos Anjos (+425 vs. Anthony Pettis), and Maryna Moroz (+600 vs. Joanne Calderwood).

The second half of the year was much more about ebbs and flows. Both big spikes above were immediately followed by nasty losing streaks. On the whole, I just about broke even in the second half of the year. People who gamble on fights are expected to lose money over time, so that’s still not so bad, but obviously the point is to keep growing the bankroll.

In 2016 (and going forward) I’m going to place all of my analysis on my Twitter account @dwilliamsmma. That means all of the model estimates and degenerate gambling picks will be there, starting with UFC 195 this week. You can always feel free to send me a tweet or an e-mail ( if you have any questions.

Thanks very much for reading, and here’s hoping for a happy and successful 2016!

UFC on Fox Orlando: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 6-6 (50.0%)

Year to date: 297-158 (65.3%)



Favorite % Underdog %
 Rafael Dos Anjos 68.5% Donald Cerrone 31.5%
 Junior Dos Santos 71.1% Alistair Overeem 28.9%
 Michael Johnson 67.7% Nate Diaz 32.3%
 Karolina Kowalkiewicz 51.9% Randa Markos 48.1%
 Myles Jury 60.7% Charles Oliveira 39.3%
 C.B. Dollaway 65.4% Nate Marquardt 34.6%
 Sarah Kaufman 75.4% Valentina Shevchenko 24.6%
 Josh Samman 67.5% Tamdan McCrory 32.5%
 Nik Lentz 53.2% Danny Castillo 46.8%
 Jim Alers 50.7% Cole Miller 49.3%
 Kamaru Usman 62.7% Leon Edwards 37.3%
 Vicente Luque 62.0% Hayder Hassan 38.0%
 Luiz Henrique 51.0% Francis Ngannou 49.0%

I have to give the UFC a lot of credit. This is a pay-per-view quality fight card and it’s being broadcast on FOX tomorrow. When the UFC originally struck a deal with FOX, I thought it meant getting cards like this with each FOX event. That hasn’t quite been the case but this event is a very good one.

The model is picking two underdogs to win: newcomer Karolina Kowalkiewicz and -105 underdog Luiz Henrique (who is taking on -115 favorite Francis Ngannou). There isn’t a huge discrepancy between the model and the betting lines for this event, but there are a couple underdogs the model likes more than the betting lines, particularly Nate Diaz and Nate Marquardt.



Last event: -$0.49

Current bankroll: $288.99

Total investment: $1,867.12

Total profit: $188.99

Return on investment: 10.1%

Last week was very rough as I suffered huge losses on the Thursday and Friday events and a trivial loss at UFC 194. Fortunately, wins on Court McGee, Demian Maia, and Leonardo Santos made up for losing bets on Chris Weidman and Frankie Saenz at UFC 194.

For this event I have…

Sarah Kaufman -145: $27.55 to win $19.00

Karolina Kowalkiewicz +185: $14.61 to win $27.03

Vicente Luque -115: $9.36 to win $8.14

Nate Marquardt +355: $8.06 to win $28.61

Nate Diaz +375: $6.95 to win $26.06

Josh Samman -175: $4.97 to win $2.84

Rafael Dos Anjos -190: $3.96 to win $2.08

Leon Edwards +210: $3.36 to win $7.06

If both Kaufman and Kowalkiewicz win, it will be a good outcome no matter what. If either of them win then it can’t be that bad. If they both lose then it’s time to flip the table.

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!

Random Thoughts on UFC 194

With Conor McGregor and Luke Rockhold’s victories at UFC 194, my week of wrongness has hopefully come to a merciful end. Hats off to both McGregor and Rockhold for terrific performances.

I have to express extreme disappointment with the McGregor-Aldo match. I’m not disappointed that McGregor won; I actually think it’s a great thing for the featherweight division. I’m just disappointed that the fight was so short. I love nothing more than a great back-and-forth fight and thought we would get it with McGregor vs. Aldo. Unfortunately, it was not to be. All of the build-up, the international press tour, the trash talking, the promos… all for a 13 second fight.

I do wonder if McGregor’s trash talk and taunting caused Aldo to fight more emotionally than he normally would. It seemed like Aldo came out more aggressive than usual, wanting to really hurt McGregor… but that’s already a lot of speculation for such a short fight. Still, seeing Aldo lunging forward with his right hand down is unusual, since his striking defense is normally so airtight.

McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar has to be the fight to make. You can’t just give Aldo a rematch after being knocked out in 13 seconds. I mean, I suppose you could, but I really think automatic rematches should be reserved for close fights. Of course, the UFC has been very quick to grant an automatic rematch for a title fight in recent years, regardless of whether the fight itself was competitive.

I expected Chris Weidman vs. Rockhold to be a pretty even match standing, but in practice, Rockhold was a lot faster and was able to land his strikes very consistently. It seemed like he was just a step ahead of Weidman, although Weidman had some success with kicks of his own. Weidman was definitely getting the better of Rockhold in the takedown game early, but Rockhold’s constant threats to choke Weidman seemed to really make Weidman hesitate in the clinch.

Weidman lost the second round pretty badly, but seemed to be doing well in the third round… when he threw a wheel kick in an apparent attempt to duplicate Vitor Belfort’s knockout victory. That was pretty dumb, but the fact that Rockhold was able to turn that into a takedown and full mount was a display of his skill and an indicator that Weidman was really hurting. Herb Dean should have stopped that fight in round three as Rockhold landed a huge number of uninterrupted strikes towards the end of the round. Weidman may have been moving and at least trying to fight back, but when a fighter is powerless to stop the onslaught of strikes being thrown at him, that should be considered “checkmate.”

I thought Jacare beat Romero 29-28, but if Jacare had won, I would have complained (once again) about the ten-point must scoring system. I know, the system isn’t going away, but Romero really hurt Jacare in that first round, while Jacare’s performances in rounds two and three were much less convincing. Even so, I think Jacare was the rightful winner by the letter of the law. Romero is a physical specimen but it’s really hard to see him doing well against Rockhold.

And then I have to mention Kevin Lee, a favorite of mine who Leonardo Santos made look bad on the prelims today. I was prepared to talk about how the UFC needed to take off the kid gloves and let Lee fight a top 15 opponent. But Santos exposed Lee’s lack of head movement and inability to adapt. It’s easy to forget that Lee has only been training martial arts for a few years – he doesn’t have the long history of training in any one discipline that most fighters have when they go into MMA. I think Lee should consider studying T.J. Dillashaw to figure out how to attack an opponent with more effective movement. He’s still a very good prospect but it’s never good to lose a fight by TKO.

UFC 194: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 7-3 (70.0%)

Year to date: 291-152 (65.7%)


Last event: -$44.34

Current bankroll: $289.48

Total investment: $1,814.69

Total profit: $189.48

Return on investment: 10.4%

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to lose over a quarter of my degenerate gambling bankroll in the last two days. I don’t like seeing my ROI down to 10 percent but there’s no getting around that fact. I never reasonably expected to keep that ROI at 30 percent like it was earlier this year though.

But it’s just an example of negative variance. You could easily argue that I had a lot of positive variance in the first half of this year, and now I’m dealing with some negative variance. My two biggest bets of each of the last two events lost. It happens.

For this event I have…

Court McGee -172: $14.16 to win $8.23

Chris Weidman -130: $10.72 to win $8.25

Frankie Saenz +540: $8.39 to win $45.31

Demian Maia -110: $5.62 to win $5.11

Joe Proctor +325: $4.34 to win $14.11

Jeremy Stephens +450: $2.43 to win $10.94

Jose Aldo -113: $2.42 to win $2.14

Yoel Romero +130: $2.20 to win $2.86

Leonardo Santos +540: $2.15 to win $11.61

All this build-up and anticipation and my biggest bet of the event is on… Court McGee. The TUF 11 winner hasn’t competed in two years, a fact the model simply doesn’t know about. Hopefully he doesn’t suffer from a severe bout of cage rust against Marcio Alexandre Junior.

And of course, that bet is followed by one on Chris Weidman. I’m probably one of the few who is just as excited to watch Weidman vs. Rockhold as I am to watch Aldo vs. McGregor. I think both fights have the potential to be all-time classics.

The obligatory big bet on a big underdog is on Frankie Saenz, who is facing none other than Urijah Faber. This seems to me like the kind of fight where Saenz fights Faber pretty competitively for a little while, and then Faber suddenly takes his back and chokes him out late in the second round or something like that. 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!

UFC 194: Model Estimates and Commentary

I’ve decided to put out the model projections for tomorrow’s UFC 194 fights, since a lot of people like to look at them a day before the event actually takes place. I’ll post degenerate gambler selections later tonight, after the conclusion of the TUF 22 Finale.


Favorite % Underdog %
 Jose Aldo 58.5% Conor McGregor 41.5%
 Chris Weidman 72.5% Luke Rockhold 27.5%
 Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza 50.5% Yoel Romero 49.5%
 Demian Maia 63.5% Gunnar Nelson 36.5%
 Max Holloway 72.3% Jeremy Stephens 27.7%
 Urijah Faber 58.0% Frankie Saenz 42.0%
 Tecia Torres 70.5% Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger 29.5%
 Colby Covington 53.9% Warlley Alves 46.1%
 Kevin Lee 75.6% Leonardo Santos 24.4%
 Magomed Mustafaev 61.9% Joe Proctor 38.1%
 John Makdessi 64.6% Yancy Medeiros 35.4%
 Court McGee 79.2% Marcio Alexandre Junior 20.8%

Earlier this year, the model estimated that Jose Aldo had about a 75 percent chance of beating the notorious Conor McGregor. After defeating Chad Mendes, McGregor has cut that to 58 percent. I can’t sit here and say there’s no way that McGregor beats Aldo, because all indications are that this will be a very competitive fight.

I do think people routinely forget how good Aldo is though. Aldo might have the best pure striking defense I’ve ever seen in MMA. It’s just plain difficult to hit him with a clean strike, and his hands are extremely fast. While I think McGregor is definitely the better offensive striker, I think Aldo is the better defensive striker… and in a competitive fight, I usually side with the better defensive fighter.

Even so, Aldo is hardly invincible, and has been known to fade in the later rounds of championship fights before. If McGregor has the same success with body shots that he had against Mendes, perhaps we’ll see Aldo struggling again… giving McGregor the opening he needs to win the fight.

You knew I was going to favor Chris Weidman to beat Luke Rockhold, it was just a question of how lopsided the estimates would be. The betting lines consider Weidman only a narrow favorite at -130. Rockhold certainly has a lot of hype behind him after his brutal, efficient victory over Lyoto Machida earlier this year.

While I don’t think Rockhold is out-classed by Weidman in any one area, I also don’t see where Rockhold has the advantage going into the fight. Rockhold might have better knockout power than Weidman, but Weidman seems to have the much better chin. After all, both of Rockhold’s losses in MMA have come by way of knockout. Rockhold’s biggest strength is his ground game, but Weidman is also excellent on the ground, and I expect Weidman to be superior in the takedown game.

The model sees Jacare-Romero as a 50-50 fight. Romero’s takedown defense was once a liability, but recently he’s looked every bit the part of the world-class wrestler he was supposed to be. If it goes to the ground, it will obviously be a huge advantage for Jacare, who is one of the best ground fighters in the sport. At standing distance, I favor Romero but only by a narrow margin.

Again, I’ll post my gambling selections later tonight, but you can easily look at the model estimates and the betting lines and probably figure out who I’ll be betting on.


TUF 22 Finale: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

It’s a three-event UFC week and the first event was an unmitigated disaster for the model and my degenerate gambling bankroll. So let’s pretend it never happened. On to event #2!


2015 PICKS

Last event: 7-4 (63.6%)

Year to date: 284-149 (65.6%)



Favorite % Underdog %
 Frankie Edgar 60.1% Chad Mendes 39.9%
 Artem Lobov 75.5% Ryan Hall 24.5%
 Tony Ferguson 59.9% Edson Barboza 40.1%
 Evan Dunham 75.9% Joe Lauzon 24.1%
 Jason Knight 62.8% Tatsuya Kawajiri 37.2%
 Julian Erosa 56.3% Marcin Wrzosek 43.7%
 Gabriel Gonzaga 58.4% Konstantin Erokhin 41.6%
 Ryan LaFlare 52.8% Mike Pierce 47.2%
 Joby Sanchez 56.2% Geane Herrera 43.8%
 Chris Gruetzemacher 66.7% Abner Lloveras 33.3%

The model favors Frankie Edgar to defeat Chad Mendes in the main event. Both fighters are known as wrestlers, but Edgar’s game is much more about striking volume, while Mendes has much better knockout power. Edgar gets the overall edge due to a superior boxing game, and I expect him to have a pretty significant edge in cardio as well. It’s possible that Mendes could knock Edgar out, but I think it’s more likely that Edgar will take this fight into the later rounds, where he should get stronger as Mendes gets fatigued.

I have watched exactly zero seconds of TUF this season, but Ryan Hall is a very high level competitor in sport Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and is particularly known for the 50-50 guard and leglocks. Unfortunately for Hall, this is MMA, not sport BJJ. I would expect Artem Lobov to get the better of Hall in MMA as long as he can keep his legs out of danger.

Tony Ferguson vs. Edson Barboza is a fight I can really get behind. Ferguson has been on fire and his pressure striking could give Barboza trouble, but Barboza is a terrific athlete with very fast kicks. I can’t imagine that fight being boring.

Joe Lauzon has statistical edges over Evan Dunham in every category except striking… but Dunham’s edge there is so huge that the model considers him a 3-1 favorite anyway. Dunham lands a ton of significant strikes and Lauzon absorbs a ton of significant strikes. Dunham is also tough to take down, so this appears to be a pretty tough stylistic matchup for “Creepy Joe.”

I’m a little nervous about the model’s estimate that the debuting Jason Knight is a favorite against longtime veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri. Knight has an excellent record for a fighter making his UFC debut (15-1 against pretty good competition) but he also appears to be a submission specialist, a style that often fails to translate to high-level fighting. Kawajiri has fought 45 times but has only been submitted in three of them (one against Shinya Aoki, one against Takanori Gomi, and the other in his professional debut).

I also have to mention the return of Mike Pierce. It’s nice to see him back – his lengthy absence was caused by Rousimar Palhares mangling his leg. Ryan LaFlare is listed as a -225 favorite against Pierce, which is surprising to me because Pierce is the kind of fighter who makes opponents look bad, win or lose.



Last event: -$59.21

Current bankroll: $333.82

Total investment: $1,734.67

Total profit: $233.82

Return on investment: 13.5%

I bet on Paige VanZant and against Sage Northcutt. As my friend Jason Somerville would say… “RONG.”

For this event I have…

Jason Knight +220: $28.28 to win $62.22

Artem Lobov -175: $16.14 to win $9.22

Evan Dunham -200: $12.77 to win $6.39

Mike Pierce +205: $9.10 to win $18.66

Gabriel Gonzaga -105: $5.75 to win $5.48

Frankie Edgar -130: $2.99 to win $2.30

Joby Sanchez -110: $2.91 to win $2.65

Edson Barboza +175: $2.08 to win $3.64

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, enjoy the fights, and stay tuned for analysis of UFC 194, which should be up tomorrow!

UFC Fight Night Las Vegas: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

With the highly anticipated UFC 194 taking place this Saturday, the UFC has apparently decided that the best way to take advantage of mainstream interest in Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor is to actually hold events on three consecutive days. It seems to me that tomorrow’s UFC Fight Night and Friday’s TUF Finale would be overwhelmed by the attention given to UFC 194, but the UFC has found success doing stuff like this in the past.

As for me… there is a zero percent chance I’ll be watching every fight this week. I’ll probably DVR tomorrow’s main card, watch Edgar vs. Mendes on Friday, and then watch all of UFC 194. But three fight cards means three Degenerate Gambler’s Corners, so let’s get to it.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 9-2 (81.8%)

Year to date: 277-145 (65.6%)




Favorite % Underdog %
 Paige VanZant 73.0% Rose Namajunas 27.0%
 Michael Chiesa 62.4% Jim Miller 37.6%
 Sage Northcutt 60.2% Cody Pfister 39.8%
 Elias Theodorou 71.6% Thiago Santos 28.4%
 Tim Means 62.1% John Howard 37.9%
 Omari Akhmedov 60.5% Sergio Moraes 39.5%
 Antonio Carlos Junior 62.2% Kevin Casey 37.8%
 Aljamain Sterling 81.2% Johnny Eduardo 18.8%
 Santiago Ponzinibbio 56.4% Andreas Stahl 43.6%
 Nathan Coy 53.5% Danny Roberts 46.5%
 Zubaira Tukhugov 74.3% Phillipe Nover 25.7%
 Kailin Curran 73.5% Emily Kagan 26.5%

I’m surprised to see the model favoring VanZant over Namajunas by this margin. If I hadn’t looked at the model I probably would have considered it close to a 50-50 fight. The model expects VanZant to have a significant advantage in both strikes and takedowns, although Namajunas has had the stronger competition.

Michael Chiesa and Jim Miller are similar in that they’re both average strikers who are good on the ground. Miller is probably the better pure submission fighter but the model gives Chiesa the edge in takedowns.

Sage Northcutt being -1100 is just stupid. As far as I can tell, Northcutt reached that betting price because he’s very young, a great athlete, and has some serious promotional muscle behind him. This is where I point out that he’s 1-0 in the UFC with a win over Frank Trevino. No, I don’t expect Cody Pfister to beat Northcutt, but the hype machine has really gone out of control here.



Last event: +$58.67

Current bankroll: $393.03

Total investment: $1,646.19

Total profit: $293.03

Return on investment: 17.8%

My huge bet on Alberto Mina came through, as he won by split decision against Yoshihiro Akiyama. Additional wins on Marco Beltran and Seo Hee Ham helped produce one of my biggest winning events of the year.

For this event I have…

Cody Pfister +900: $20.46 to win $184.14

Paige VanZant -160: $17.55 to win $10.97

Michael Chiesa -110: $11.02 to win $10.02

John Howard +365: $10.91 to win $39.82

Nathan Coy +135: $9.73 to win $13.14

Kevin Casey +275: $7.40 to win $20.35

Andreas Stahl +185: $6.24 to win $11.54

Omari Akhmedov -135: $3.20 to win $2.37

Johnny Eduardo +570: $1.97 to win $11.23

If there’s one thing I haven’t been afraid to do, it’s put a big bet on a big underdog. Let’s go Cody Pfister!

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.

I’ll have the degenerate gambler’s corner for tomorrow’s event up as soon as possible after tomorrow’s fights are over, and then do the same thing for UFC 194 on Friday night.

UFC Fight Night Seoul: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

Apologies for this post being so close to the start of UFC Fight Night Seoul. I’ve been quite busy today so I’m going to just post the model estimates and bets without commentary. However, I must point out three things:

1: There’s been some very suspicious betting line movement in the Tae Hyun Bang vs. Leo Kuntz fight. Somehow Bang has gone from being a -200 favorite to a +350 underdog in a very short period of time. I think the best course of action here is to stay away from betting on the fight entirely.

2: The model actually wants me to bet more on Alberto Mina than I ended up doing, but I think it’s probably not a good idea to go above 10 percent of bankroll for any one bet.

3: There are actually two Dong Hyun Kims on this card. One is the “Stun Gun” we’ve all watched for a long time now. The other is a debuting fighter in the lightweight division.

2015 PICKS

Last event: 7-6 (53.8%)

Year to date: 268-143 (65.2%)




Favorite % Underdog %
 Benson Henderson 60.3% Jorge Masvidal 39.7%
 Dong Hyun Kim (WW) 86.3% Dom Waters 13.7%
 Alberto Mina 74.0% Yoshihiro Akiyama 26.0%
 Dominique Steele 52.1% Dong Hyun Kim (LW) 47.9%
 Doo Ho Choi 59.0% Sam Sicilia 41.0%
 Yui Chul Nam 50.5% Mike De La Torre 49.5%
 Tae Hyun Bang 54.5% Leo Kuntz 45.5%
 Dongi Yang 51.2% Jake Collier 48.8%
 Seo Hee Ham 53.6% Cortney Casey 46.4%
 Yao Zhikui 53.7% Freddy Serrano 46.3%
 Marco Beltran 51.3% Ning Guangyou 48.7%



Last event: +$18.02

Current bankroll: $334.36

Total investment: $1,577.01

Total profit: $234.36

Return on investment: 14.9%


For this event I have…

Alberto Mina +145: $33.44 to win $48.49

Yao Zhikui +145: $8.80 to win $12.76

Marco Beltran +160: $8.34 to win $13.34

Seo Hee Ham +135: $7.53 to win $10.17

Sam Sicilia +210: $4.69 to win $9.85

Jorge Masvidal +200: $3.34 to win $6.68

Dongi Yang +115: $3.04 to win $3.50


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 hate sleep or live somewhere far away from the Pacific time zone where I am.)

UFC Fight Night Monterrey: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 8-5 (61.5%)

Year to date: 261-137 (65.6%)



Favorite % Underdog %
 Kelvin Gastelum 54.0% Neil Magny 46.0%
 Ricardo Lamas 61.8% Diego Sanchez 38.2%
 Henry Cejudo 59.7% Jussier Formiga 40.3%
 Enrique Marin 63.5% Erick Montano 36.5%
 Enrique Barzola 59.6% Horacio Gutierrez 40.4%
 Efrain Escudero 58.8% Leandro Silva 41.2%
 Erik Perez 56.5% Taylor Lapilus 43.5%
 Bartosz Fabinski 72.1% Hector Urbina 27.9%
 Alejandro Perez 53.7% Scott Jorgensen 46.3%
 Andre Fili 60.5% Gabriel Benitez 39.5%
 Vernon Ramos 61.0% Alvaro Herrera 39.0%
 Cesar Arzamendia 64.5% Polo Reyes 35.5%
 Valmir Lazaro 63.0% Michel Prazeres 37.0%

As usual, the model favors many of the same fighters who are favored by the betting lines, but suggests the fights are closer than expected. Kelvin Gastelum is a -295 favorite to beat Neil Magny but the model says his chances of winning are barely better than a coin flip. Ricardo Lamas is listed as a -475 favorite to beat Diego Sanchez, but the model says his chances are just 61.8%. Henry Cejudo is a -525 favorite to beat Jussier Formiga, but the model says he’s just a 59.7% favorite.

My guess is that the truth is somewhere between the betting lines and the model estimates. I can see why a fighter like Lamas is so heavily favored; Lamas has been consistently competitive at a high level while Diego Sanchez hasn’t won a fight convincingly since he fought Paulo Thiago at UFC 121. Meanwhile, Henry Cejudo is a world-class wrestler and athlete who is unlikely to allow Jussier Formiga to drag him to the ground.

But as we saw with Ronda Rousey last week, it can be hard to envision a big upset happening until it actually does.

Underdog picks for this event include: Enrique Barzola, Efrain Escudero, and Alejandro Perez.



Last event: +$9.49

Current bankroll: $316.34

Total investment: $1,513.82

Total profit: $216.34

Return on investment: 14.3%

So Holly Holm at +1200 was a winner, and it allowed me to walk away with a small gain after losing bets on Richie Vaculik, Anton Zafir, and Uriah Hall. That result shows why I’m generally skeptical any time the betting lines suggest that one fighter is over a 10-1 underdog.

For this event I have…

Enrique Barzola +150: $11.93 to win $17.90

Jussier Formiga +450: $9.11 to win $41.00

Neil Magny +265: $8.47 to win $22.45

Efrain Escudero +120: $7.96 to win $9.55

Diego Sanchez +420: $7.55 to win $31.71


Valmir Lazaro -110: $7.05 to win $6.41

Bartosz Fabinski -205: $4.31 to win $2.10

Alejandro Perez +115: $3.82 to win $4.39

Erik Perez -105: $2.99 to win $2.85

My biggest bet is on TUF: Latin America 2 finalist Enrique Barzola. I have not watched a single minute of this version of TUF so I have no idea if I should feel good about this bet or not.

Then there’s Neil Magny, who has been very good to me when it comes to degenerate gambling over the year. I’m honestly quite surprised to see him listed at a +265 price against Kelvin Gastelum, who will attempt to cut to 170 pounds again later today. I know Magny took the fight on short notice, but he already showed he can handle a short notice fight well when he beat Erick Silva earlier this year.

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!

Reaction – Holly Holm Knocks Out Ronda Rousey

It’s late and I’m sleepy, so I’m going to keep this short. But I can’t NOT write about what I saw earlier tonight…

Ronda Rousey opened as a -1450 favorite to beat Holly Holm, who was a +950 underdog. Rousey made it all the way to -2000 but late betting action took the line on Rousey all the way down to -750. So as long as we’re looking at closing lines, Holm’s win is not the biggest upset in UFC history. But if you’re looking at the fact that Holm was priced at +1250 at one point, then it IS the biggest upset.

I’ve watched enough Rousey fights to know that she tends to move forward very aggressively, she almost always gets hit a couple times coming in, and she fights at a frenetic pace. I always wanted to see what would happen if an opponent was able to circle out consistently and take Rousey into deeper waters, but it always seemed like Rousey would be able to get the clinch, get the fight to the ground, and finish by armbar. For a fighter like Holm, who had never been tested against a grappling based opponent, I figured the fight would end the same way it usually does.

As it turns out, Holm had the skills and the game plan necessary to take advantage of the flaws in Rousey’s game. Early on, I thought Rousey was standing and boxing with Holm to try to prove a point – to show that Rousey could box with Holm. When it became clear that Rousey could not box with Holm, I expected Rousey to change gears and go to her “bread and butter” – the judo/grappling game. There was one ground scramble and one clinch, but for the most part, Holm was able to use her straight punches and footwork to keep Rousey at distance.

As Rousey’s demeanor changed from “terminator” to having doubts, Holm started to really take over. Her distance control and punching accuracy were outstanding, and it was amazing to watch Holm side-step Rousey and see Rousey stumbling in desperate attempts to attack. The head kick knockout was the perfect finisher to an amazing performance.

So here’s the question: who would I favor in a rematch? On one hand, this performance by Holm was not a fluke. It was a one-sided beatdown. Holm made Rousey look bad. On the other hand, Holm is the same fighter who went to split decision against Raquel Pennington in her UFC debut. Without doing a thorough analysis (or consulting the statistical model) I would probably pick Rousey to win a rematch… if I was assured that Rousey would use this as an opportunity to evolve and grow as a fighter. But if you told me that Rousey would attack Holm exactly the same way in a rematch, I would have to pick Holm to win it.

And speaking candidly, I’m glad that Holm won this fight. Rousey’s act has really been wearing thin with me. I don’t blame her for using her celebrity status as an opportunity to build her brand, but a lot of what she’s said has been tabloid fodder – which the media has been all too eager to report. I would be happy to go a couple months without hearing about Rousey vs. Mayweather, or Rousey beating up random guys in her past, or who Rousey thinks should be the next president, etc.

As for Holm, her performance was thrilling to watch, and it’s injected life into a division that sorely needed it.