Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

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.


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.


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!


11 responses to “UFC Fight Night San Diego – Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

  1. Stoyan July 14, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Hey man, I follow you from few months or year maybe but I forgot if I have seen an explanation about your “model”.
    Can you tell me how does it work? What are the percentages based on?

    • David Williams July 15, 2015 at 12:07 am

      I wrote a little about the model when I debuted it, but here’s the short version. It’s a logistic regression model based on the following statistical inputs: significant strikes, knockdowns, takedowns, age, and Fight Matrix rating. The model works by first applying regression to the three Fight Metric statistics, then multiplying each fighter’s offensive statistics with his opponent’s defensive statistics. The estimated winning percentages are based on those multiplied statistics, along with the age difference and Fight Matrix rating difference.

  2. Nick July 15, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Hardest fights to predict for me are Yahya +100 vs. Kanehara -110 and Casey -105 vs. Alcantara -105.

  3. Howard Morton July 15, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Craziest comeback ever was when Mike Russow KO’d Todd Duffee after he (Russow) was getting tagged with just about everything Duffee threw at him for 2 rounds. Hopefully for Duffee backers the same thing does not happen tonight.

    • David Williams July 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      That’s one of my favorite fights ever. This hulking behemoth carved out of marble beating up this fat guy from Chicago for two rounds… and then, out of nowhere, one punch from the fat guy ends it. I can’t get enough of that fight.

  4. r.mattioli July 15, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    like gamburyan…Jorgensen seems to be consistently regressing…..might even take a tumble with manny itd at +250(jorg has had a tendency to get tapped of late)

    played a par.. mir/duddee doesn`t start rd 4/jouban-dwyer doesn`t go the distance and rousey itd laying 1 to get back roughly .7…..

    I think both reneau and josh thomson at roughly +205 each are worth a look…still,holm represents a considerable investment to the ufc and Thomson always seems to get the shaft in close fights,so I`m not sure whether I`ll bother pulling the trigger on either…

    curious to see whether lyman good`s strong, slow deliberate style translates well to the ufc vs a higher level of competition….

    • David Williams July 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      It surprises me that Jorgensen is still in the UFC, to be honest. He must be on a nice, cheap contract, because going 2-6 in eight fights is usually a great way to get cut. You’re right, Jorgensen seems to be looking worse all the time, and his recent move to flyweight clearly didn’t help him.

  5. Nick July 17, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Hi David, You putting one up for Bisping vs Leites today?

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