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 Lesnar–Frank 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.
Last event: 6-5 (54.5%)
Year to date: 154-91 (62.9%)
TUF 21 FINALE – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES
| Jake Ellenberger
| Kamaru Usman
| Michael Graves
| Jorge Masvidal
| Michelle Waterson
| Maximo Blanco
||Mike De La Torre
| Josh Samman
| Russell Doane
| Trevor Smith
| George Sullivan
| Willie Gates
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.