Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 193: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 11-2 (84.6%)

Year to date: 253-132 (65.7%)

I was thinking about whether to credit the Patrick Cummins-Glover Teixeira fight as a win or loss, as the model favored Cummins but I made it clear that I felt Teixeira was the real favorite. I’ve ultimately decided to count it as a loss, since the model is really what’s being tested here.

UFC 193 – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Ronda Rousey 80.7% Holly Holm 19.3%
 Joanna Jedrzejczyk 76.9% Valerie Letourneau 23.1%
 Mark Hunt 57.5% Antonio Silva 42.5%
 Uriah Hall 70.1% Robert Whittaker 29.9%
 Jared Rosholt 62.0% Stefan Struve 38.0%
 Jake Matthews 74.3% Akbarh Arreola 25.7%
 Peter Sobotta 51.4% Kyle Noke 48.6%
 Gian Villante 65.0% Anthony Perosh 35.0%
 Richie Vaculik 68.2% Danny Martinez 31.8%
 Steve Montgomery 57.6% Daniel Kelly 42.4%
 Richard Walsh 70.0% Steven Kennedy 30.0%
 James Moontasri 52.3% Anton Zafir 47.7%
 Ben Nguyen 56.1% Ryan Benoit 43.9%

I’ve written before that Ronda Rousey is the kind of fighter who is impossible to model with statistics. That continues to be the case going into her championship fight against Holly Holm. Rousey routinely finishes her opponents in under a minute, and is now winning by knockout as well as submission. She’s faced all of the top fighters in her division and none of them have been competitive. There’s simply nobody like her in MMA.

Even so, Rousey vs. Holm is an even greater mismatch than usual, in the sense that Holm isn’t as good as most of Rousey’s past UFC opponents. Holm went to a close decision against Raquel Pennington and then won a convincing (if dull) decision against Marion Reneau. So Holm has performed decently against two mid-tier opponents while Rousey has crushed the best fighters in the division. It would be like a college football team winning two close games against Mountain West opponents and then being thrown into a game against Ohio State. What do you think is going to happen?

Now, I think the model struggles with Joanna Jedrzejczyk as well, but I also think the betting line on her title defense against Valerie Letourneau is out of control. At -1700 or higher, Jedrzejczyk is actually a bigger favorite against Letourneau than Rousey is against Holm. Letourneau is probably comparable to Holm as a title challenger; both are good but not great fighters being thrown into title fights before they’ve really proven they deserve the opportunity. And while Jedrzejczyk has certainly been very impressive in her fights, she hasn’t been dominant on Rousey’s level.

Of course, I’ll still be shocked if either Rousey or Jedrzejczyk loses.

When Mark Hunt took on Antonio Silva the first time, the model slightly favored Silva to win. This time, Hunt is the slight favorite. Hunt and Silva really are a very good match for each other; Hunt has the striking advantage and Silva has the grappling advantage. Neither fighter has a great chin at this point (Hunt’s was cracked long ago). I would say I’d be shocked to see it go the distance, but that’s what I said last time too.

All of a sudden, the model likes Uriah Hall a lot after his shocking upset win over Gegard Mousasi. I’m more skeptical of Hall than the model is. In beating Mousasi, Hall proved that he’s a very dangerous kicker capable of winning by knockout at any moment – but we knew that already. Hall still hasn’t proved that he’s a good boxer, or that he can defend takedowns against a strong wrestler. I think his fight against Robert Whittaker is probably closer to a toss-up than the model suggests.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: +$17.78

Current bankroll: $306.85

Total investment: $1,467.51

Total profit: $206.85

Return on investment: 14.1%

Having only three bets on last week’s UFC Fight Night from Sao Paulo paid off. Gleison Tibau and Jimmie Rivera were both winners while I lost a small bet on +410 underdog Patrick Cummins.

For this event I have…

Richie Vaculik +100: $8.65 to win $8.65

Anton Zafir +290: $6.38 to win $18.50

Uriah Hall -140: $5.95 to win $4.25

Jared Rosholt +100: $4.77 to win $4.77

Antonio Silva +245: $3.56 to win $8.72

Daniel Kelly +240: $3.41 to win $8.18

Anthony Perosh +365: $3.14 to win $11.46

Valerie Letourneau +1100: $2.90 to win $31.90

Akbarh Arreola +750: $2.84 to win $21.30

Kyle Noke +150: $2.53 to win $3.80

Holly Holm +1200: $2.18 to win $26.16

Boom. One week after having only three bets, I’m coming back with 11 bets for UFC 193. I’ve placed 11 bets on an event once before, at UFC Fight Night in San Diego earlier this year. That ended up being a losing event, so hopefully this one will be different.

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 Sao Paulo: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 5-4 (55.6%)

Year to date: 242-130 (65.1%)

UFC FIGHT NIGHT SAO PAULO – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Vitor Belfort 72.1% Dan Henderson 27.9%
 Patrick Cummins 51.6% Glover Teixeira 48.4%
 Thomas Almeida 62.3% Anthony Birchak 37.7%
 Alex Oliveira 50.1% Piotr Hallmann 49.9%
 Rashid Magomedov 66.5% Gilbert Burns 33.5%
 Corey Anderson 84.6% Fabio Maldonado 15.4%
 Gleison Tibau 90.2% Abel Trujillo 9.8%
 Johnny Case 67.0% Yan Cabral 33.0%
 Clay Guida 65.1% Thiago Tavares 34.9%
 Chas Skelly 52.9% Kevin Souza 47.1%
 Viscardi Andrade 53.3% Gasan Umalatov 46.7%
 Jimmie Rivera 72.0% Pedro Munhoz 28.0%
 Matheus Nicolau Pereira 54.1% Bruno Korea 45.9%

I’ll be honest with you, if somebody told me that I would get a million dollars if I picked the fight between Patrick Cummins and Glover Teixeira correctly, I would pick Teixeira. Teixeira is the more accomplished fighter but the model thinks Cummins will have a massive takedown advantage, which is why he’s slightly favored. I happen to think Teixeira is the far superior striker and has an overall skill set that will carry him to victory here. Cummins is not Phil Davis…

I said before Dan Henderson’s fight against Tim Boetsch that his big right hand is his only way to win fights at a high level now. Sure enough, Henderson knocked Boetsch out with that right hand. It’s possible that Henderson can knock out Vitor Belfort as well, but I think a Belfort knockout win is much more likely.

The other fight I need to mention is Gleison Tibau vs. Abel Trujillo, a fight that is evenly matched according to the betting lines. Once again, takedowns are the reason why the model estimates are so different. Tibau lands a lot of takedowns on a consistent basis while Trujillo has been taken down a lot, most notably against Khabib Nurmagomedov. I think the truth is probably somewhere between the model and the betting lines.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$37.86

Current bankroll: $289.07

Total investment: $1,444.61

Total profit: $189.07

Return on investment: 13.1%

It turns out the model wasn’t justified to love Cathal Pendred so much. Pendred got knocked out in the first round by Tom Breese, making my biggest bet for UFC Fight Night Dublin a loser. I’m now on a three-event losing streak, but hopefully that will end now.

For this event I have…

Gleison Tibau -115: $15.45 to win $13.43

Jimmie Rivera +150: $4.72 to win $7.08

Patrick Cummins +410: $2.73 to win $11.19

That’s it, just three bets this time. I only need Gleison Tibau to win to break the losing streak. If Tibau loses, I’ll need upsets from both Jimmie Rivera and Patrick Cummins. 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 Fight Night Dublin: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

Apologies for this post being a little later than usual; I’ve been in Reno for Jason Somerville’s Run it UP! event. (Where I’ve been through a workout coached by T.J. Dillashaw… I know, sick brag.)

The bad news for this weekend’s UFC event from Dublin is that there is no main event. Sure, they’re calling Paddy Holohan vs. Louis Smolka the main event, but that’s not really a main event, it’s just the last fight on the card. And poor Ben Rothwell showed up in Ireland even though he didn’t have an opponent after Stipe Miocic’s withdrawal.

The good news is that there are still some compelling and well-matched fights. It’s an event for more hardcore fans, to be sure, but there should at least be some good fights on the card.

I don’t have a full stats update for this card, but know that UFC 192 went very poorly (-$44.46) and I’m working with a bankroll of $326.93 coming into this one.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT DUBLIN – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Paddy Holohan 55.2% Louis Smolka 44.8%
 Norman Parke 59.4% Reza Madadi 40.6%
 Nicolas Dalby 53.2% Darren Till 46.8%
 Jon Delos Reyes 52.0% Neil Seery 48.0%
 Steven Ray 70.7% Mickael Lebout 29.3%
 Aisling Daly 66.9% Ericka Almeida 33.1%
 Krzysztof Jotko 52.7% Scott Askham 47.3%
 Cathal Pendred 65.2% Tom Breese 34.8%
 Darren Elkins 64.8% Rob Whiteford 35.2%
 Bubba Bush 70.9% Garreth McLellan 29.1%

Holohan and Smolka are both tall, lanky flyweights. Smolka is the more active striker but Holohan should have a pretty large edge in takedowns. If Holohan starts having trouble getting Smolka down, I would favor Smolka in a striking match.

Madadi was fairly successful in his pre-jail UFC stint, but opponent Norman Parke has been very tough to take down. Madadi will want this fight on the ground if he wants to win, but that’s easier said than done.

Nicolas Dalby is more established than Darren Till, but Till enters with an 8-year youth advantage. I expect Dalby to have the advantage in takedowns and Till to have the advantage in strikes. Both fighters are undefeated with Dalby at 14-0 and Till at 13-0.

Neil Seery is the better technical striker, but Jon Delos Reyes is the better and younger athlete and has a lot more knockout power. The model gives the slight edge to Reyes but his overall game is still very rough around the edges.

And then, of course, I have to mention Cathal Pendred, who the model really likes despite looking terrible in all of his fights. Pendred’s current total UFC statistics: 177 to 197 in significant strikes, 12 to 1 in takedowns. That, combined with Pendred’s decent record, is enough for the model to favor him against Tom Breese.

For this event I have…

Cathal Pendred +230: $34.93 to win $80.34

Aisling Daly -125: $11.94 to win $9.55

Jon Delos Reyes +140: $7.50 to win $10.50

Darren Elkins -140: $6.40 to win $4.57

Reza Madadi +220: $5.48 to win $12.06

Mickael Lebout +450: $5.48 to win $24.66

Krzysztof Jotko +120: $5.33 to win $6.40

Paddy Holohan +105: $4.99 to win $5.24

Pendred 30-27 incoming… I hope!

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 192: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

The main event of this show features a light-heavyweight title match between Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson. I hate that Gustafsson is getting a title fight coming off a knockout loss to Anthony Johnson, but I know exactly what the UFC is doing. If Cormier wins, the UFC can promote a rematch between him and Jon Jones and play up the rivalry angle. If Gustafsson wins, the UFC can promote a rematch by highlighting how competitive his first fight against Jones was.

If the more deserving Ryan Bader had received the title shot and found a way to beat Cormier, it would have been a lot harder to sell a Jones-Bader rematch, because Jones just shut Bader down in their fight (and because Bader just isn’t as much of a star as Gustafsson).

2015 PICKS

Last event: 7-2 (77.8%)

Year to date: 228-123 (65.0%)

UFC 192 – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Daniel Cormier 77.5% Alexander Gustafsson 22.5%
 Johny Hendricks 69.1% Tyron Woodley 30.9%
 Ryan Bader 57.0% Rashad Evans 43.0%
 Shawn Jordan 51.8% Ruslan Magomedov 48.2%
 Julianna Pena 71.6% Jessica Eye 28.4%
 Yair Rodriguez 59.6% Daniel Hooker 40.4%
 Joseph Benavidez 75.8% Ali Bagautinov 24.2%
 Albert Tumenov 66.4% Alan Jouban 33.6%
 Rose Namajunas 56.8% Angela Hill 43.2%
 Islam Makhachev 52.8% Adriano Martins 47.2%
 Sage Northcutt 62.5% Frank Trevino 37.5%
 Sergio Pettis 64.6% Chris Cariaso 35.4%
 Viktor Pesta 70.6% Derrick Lewis 29.4%

I’m including the Hendricks-Woodley estimate even though that fight is off, because I know people would be curious about it. This latest weight cutting mishap just further fuels my opinion that fighters should be erring on the side of cutting less weight, rather than the side of cutting more weight.

In the main event, the model sees Cormier as a 7-2 favorite to successfully defend his title against Gustafsson. The biggest reason for this is the fact that Gustafsson is coming off a knockout loss; his ranking has diminished and it’s worth questioning how prepared he is to fight for the title after getting clobbered by Anthony Johnson earlier this year. While I think Gustafsson’s takedown defense remains badly underrated, he’s very hittable at distance and hasn’t had to face a wrestler quite like Cormier before. I have to think Cormier grinds him out and wins by decision, and perhaps TKO.

The model likes underdog Bader to beat the returning Rashad Evans. It doesn’t seem to me that Evans should be favored after multiple major knee injuries, but he’s -130 at the moment.

The sudden promotional push the UFC has been giving Sage Northcutt is bizarre to me. For one, Northcutt shouldn’t be in the UFC yet. He’s 19 years old and has one year of professional MMA experience. He hasn’t defeated any UFC-caliber opposition. I think Northcutt could really use another year and at least three more fights before stepping up to the UFC.

And sure enough, Northcutt’s betting price has jumped from -230 to -420 on the strength of that promotion. In other words, it’s gone from being reasonable to being unreasonable. The model still likes Northcutt’s chances because of his youth advantage (and the fact that Frank Trevino isn’t very good). But this is a tougher fight than is being advertised, and could easily be a spot where Northcutt gets tripped up.

Underdog picks for this card include: Bader and Shawn Jordan, both of whom are below 60 percent.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: -$30.85

Current bankroll: $371.39

Total investment: $1,272.19

Total profit: $271.39

Return on investment: 21.3%

UFC Fight Night Japan was a bust. It actually would have been a winning night if Teruto Ishihara got one judge to score one more round for him. But in the end, Keita Nakamura +235 was my only winning bet. Gegard Mousasi’s shocking loss to Uriah Hall didn’t help matters.

For this event I have…

Viktor Pesta -150: $16.61 to win $11.07

Shawn Jordan +175: $14.75 to win $25.81

Daniel Cormier -245: $13.28 to win $5.42

Ryan Bader +120: $12.37 to win $14.84

Frank Trevino +375: $12.13 to win $45.49

Daniel Hooker +255: $9.46 to win $24.12

Angela Hill +210: $8.87 to win $18.63

Alan Jouban +240: $2.90 to win $6.96

For some reason Cormier’s betting price dipped from -350 to -245 today. Does somebody know something I don’t?

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 Japan: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 8-3 (72.7%)

Year to date: 221-121 (64.6%)

UFC FIGHT NIGHT JAPAN – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Josh Barnett 72.4% Roy Nelson 27.6%
 Gegard Mousasi 87.7% Uriah Hall 12.3%
 Kyoji Horiguchi 65.5% Chico Camus 34.5%
 Takeya Mizugaki 63.6% George Roop 36.4%
 Diego Brandao 62.2% Katsunori Kikuno 37.8%
 Teruto Ishihara 52.5% Mizuto Hirota 47.5%
 Li Jingliang 54.0% Keita Nakamura 46.0%
 Nick Hein 50.2% Yusuke Kasuya 49.8%
 Kajan Johnson 67.8% Naoyuki Kotani 32.2%
 Roger Zapata 62.9% Shinsho Anzai 37.1%

For the most part, the model is in alignment with the betting lines, but there is some disparity on the prelims. The one underdog being favored by the model is Teruto Ishihara, who is taking on featherweight grinder Mizuto Hirota. I have to say that Ishihara is a small bantamweight who’s moving up to 145 to battle Hirota, so I don’t know if I really think Ishihara is a favorite to win. The model also has Nick Hein vs. Yusuke Kasuya as a coin flip despite fairly lopsided odds.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: +$79.67

Current bankroll: $402.24

Total investment: $1170.56

Total profit: $302.24

Return on investment: 25.8%

It turns out that I wasn’t crazy and Ross Pearson was badly undervalued against Paul Felder at UFC 191. That win accounts for most of the 80 dollars in profit I made, and I also got wins from Andrei Arlovski, Joe Riggs (by DQ), Corey Anderson, and John Lineker.

For this event I have…

Teruto Ishihara +245: $23.41 to win $57.35

Yusuke Kasuya +290: $22.76 to win $66.00

Keita Nakamura +235: $14.14 to win $33.23

Roger Zapata -110: $13.40 to win $12.18

Gegard Mousasi -550: $11.86 to win $2.16

Chico Camus +310: $7.30 to win $22.63

Katsunori Kikuno +200: $3.40 to win $6.80

Naoyuki Kotani +260: $3.08 to win $8.01

George Roop +200: $2.28 to win $4.56

With the bankroll crossing the $400 mark for the first time, there are bigger bets on this event than I’m accustomed to. As long as one of the two big underdog bets wins, this event can’t end too badly.

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!

Bellator Main Card Statistical Model Estimates

I’ve been asked to share what the model has to say about some fights outside the UFC. The reason I don’t normally post estimates for non-UFC fights is because Fight Metric only collects data for UFC these days. I do use a backup model for fighters with no Fight Metric data, but I haven’t tested the model and can’t speak to its accuracy, especially as a comparison for the betting lines.

I’m not going to promise making this a regular thing, but tomorrow’s card has some good fighters, so how bad can it be?

Favorite % Underdog %
Liam McGeary 61.6% Tito Ortiz 38.4%
Josh Thomson 70.9% Mike Bronzoulis 29.1%
Muhammed Lawal 78.5% Linton Vassell 21.5%
Phil Davis 86.9% Emanuel Newton 13.1%

The model has a lot more faith in Tito Ortiz than the betting lines, but I’m skeptical. Ortiz looked really bad against Stephan Bonnar, but found a way to win because Bonnar looked even worse. I don’t see him getting away with that kind of performance against Liam McGeary.

The model’s biggest favorite of the night is Phil Davis, even though he’s set to face Emanuel Newton. I think it’s safe to say that Newton simply hasn’t ever had to face a fighter quite like Davis, who is a far superior athlete to Newton. Sure, I’d give Newton the striking edge, but I have my doubts that he’ll be able to fend off the takedowns and grappling of Davis.

My Plans When The Year is Done

I’ve had quite a few people send me tweets, emails, and comments asking me to find a way to relay my statistical model estimates and some analysis after I’m done blogging.

I want to make it very clear to everybody that I’m not disappearing after I’m done writing at the end of the year. My current plan is to start putting model estimates, degenerate gambler picks, and analysis on Twitter at the beginning of 2016. So for those of you who have been offering to send me money… I REALLY appreciate the offer but it’s very much not necessary. My stuff will be on Twitter!

My Twitter handle is @dwilliamsmma so give me a follow. And yes, I fully acknowledge that I haven’t been very active on Twitter, but that will change when the new year hits, believe me.

Hopefully this will be seen as good news for those of you who have worried that I was going to disappear into the ether.

UFC 191: Degenerate Gambler’s Corner

2015 PICKS

Last event: 5-7 (41.7%)

Year to date: 213-118 (64.4%)

UFC 191 – STATISTICAL MODEL ESTIMATES

Favorite % Underdog %
 Demetrious Johnson 82.9% John Dodson 17.1%
 Andrei Arlovski 77.2% Frank Mir 22.8%
 Anthony Johnson 90.8% Jimi Manuwa 9.2%
 Corey Anderson 57.5% Jan Blachowicz 42.5%
 Paige VanZant 86.8% Alex Chambers 13.2%
 Ross Pearson 54.5% Paul Felder 45.5%
 John Lineker 62.9% Francisco Rivera 37.1%
 Jessica Andrade 63.0% Raquel Pennington 37.0%
 Clay Collard 62.3% Tiago Trator 37.7%
 Joe Riggs 57.7% Ron Stallings 42.3%
 Nazareno Malegarie 54.2% Joaquim Silva 45.8%

The model likes three underdogs to win tomorrow: Corey Anderson, Ross Pearson, and Joe Riggs. All have under 60 percent win estimates, so the model isn’t TOO confident about any of them.

What the three of them have in common: they’re all coming off losses. I don’t doubt that there is some negative impact for a fighter who lost his last fight, but I feel like betting markets probably overrate that impact.

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER – SEASON TWO

Last event: +$45.90

Current bankroll: $322.57

Total investment: $1,122.91

Total profit: $222.57

Return on investment: 19.8%

That big plus number above is thanks to Neil Magny, who cruised to victory against Erick Silva. I was skeptical of the model’s assertion that Magny was a 4-1 favorite in that fight, but Magny sure looked like one… despite one judge somehow scoring the fight 29-28 in Silva’s favor.

For this event I have…

Andrei Arlovski -150: $14.12 to win $9.41

Ross Pearson +380: $13.85 to win $52.63

Joe Riggs +150: $7.83 to win $11.75

Corey Anderson +125: $5.75 to win $7.19

Clay Collard -125: $3.35 to win $2.68

John Lineker -135: $2.75 to win $2.04

I’m still not sure what Paul Felder has done to become such a favorite to beat a guy like Ross Pearson. Yes, I know Felder looked great against Danny Castillo. It seems like his loss to Edson Barboza actually boosted his stock for some reason. Sure, Felder didn’t get blown out by Barboza, but he did lose that fight… and Ross Pearson came closer to beating Barboza when they fought in 2011. You can argue that Felder deserves to be favored against Pearson, but over -400 odds on him? That can’t be right.

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 191 Statistical Preview

Just to let you know ahead of time… my plan is to stop writing on this blog at the end of this year. That would make it five years of me writing on this blog and I think that’s enough. I’m at the point where I would rather focus on doing other things… but I do want to finish out this year, just to see how a full year of making bets using my statistical model looks.

It doesn’t mean I’ll be dropping off the face of the earth. I’ll still be on Twitter so if you’re ever curious about my thoughts on a fight, you can always send me a tweet or email.

Now, the one thing I have zero desire to do anymore is to write actual fight previews. Instead, for this weekend’s UFC 191 event, I’m going to share what the model thinks about each main card fight and give some commentary about that.

I’ll also be sharing some stats: Strike Score, Knockdown Score, and Takedown Score.

Strike Score is based on the number of significant strikes a fighter lands, and the number of significant strikes his opponent absorbs. A score of 100 is average; anything above 100 suggests above-average significant strike potential. The same thing is true of Takedown Score.

Knockdown Score represents the ability of each fighter to land a knockdown on a per-strike basis. 100 represents an average score. A knockdown score of 200 means a fighter has double the average chance to score a knockdown on any given significant strikes. A knockdown score of 50 represents half the average chance of scoring a knockdown on a significant strike. Expect the Knockdown Scores to vary more wildly than the Strike Scores or Takedown Scores.

Keep in mind that these scores are not adjusted for strength of competition. It’s possible that one fighter will have higher scores across the board but still be the underdog according to the statistical model, because of the level each fighter has been competing at.

Main event: John Dodson vs. Demetrious Johnson

Fighter Win Pct. Estimate Strike Score Knockdown Score Takedown Score
John Dodson 17.1% 70.5 177.7 69.7
Demetrious Johnson 82.9% 123.3 20.8 150.5

Dodson is a flyweight who hits like a heavyweight. He has freakish one-punch knockout power for the 125 pound division. That’s also the only thing he really has going for him in this match. Johnson is the superior striker and wrestler, and should win any fight that goes the distance against Dodson. Dodson really has just a “puncher’s chance,” but his puncher’s chance is better than that of most fighters.

Co-main event: Andrei Arlovski vs. Frank Mir

Fighter Win Pct. Estimate Strike Score Knockdown Score Takedown Score
Andrei Arlovski 77.2% 127.8 393.9 19.1
Frank Mir 22.8% 64.3 475.4 69.4

Arlovski and Mir both have big punching power AND a fragile chin. That’s why each fighter’s knockdown score is so ridiculously high. This fight is almost certain to end in a knockout one way or the other. But the model doesn’t see this as a coin flip fight. Instead, it gives a sizable edge to Arlovski, whose striking statistics are far better than Mir’s. If Arlovski can land a lot more strikes than Mir in the fight, then his chances of winning by KO should be much higher as well.

Anthony Johnson vs. Jimi Manuwa

Fighter Win Pct. Estimate Strike Score Knockdown Score Takedown Score
Anthony Johnson 90.8% 101.2 443.8 103.9
Jimi Manuwa 9.2% 75.2 49.5 54.0

This looks like a “stay busy” fight for Rumble Johnson. He hits like a ton of bricks; you didn’t need me to tell you that. But Johnson’s striking and takedown statistics are also superior to Manuwa’s and that doesn’t even account for Johnson’s higher level of competition. It will be a huge upset if Manuwa wins this one.

Corey Anderson vs. Jan Blachowicz

Fighter Win Pct. Estimate Strike Score Knockdown Score Takedown Score
Corey Anderson 57.5% 134.8 39.2 119.6
Jan Blachowicz 42.5% 106.9 48.0 41.3

Anderson is coming off a knockout loss to Gian Villante, but he still rates as above average in both strikes and takedowns. However, Jan Blachowicz has faced a higher level of competition, so that makes this fight a little closer – which is why Anderson is only a small favorite at 57.5 percent. With relatively low knockdown scores on both sides, this could be a light-heavyweight fight that goes the distance.

Alex Chambers vs. Paige VanZant

Fighter Win Pct. Estimate Strike Score Knockdown Score Takedown Score
Alex Chambers 13.2% 85.2 57.4 146.5
Paige VanZant 86.8% 151.8 37.2 146.0

Not shown here is VanZant’s 15 year youth advantage or the fact that VanZant looks to be the far superior overall athlete. VanZant’s betting price of -1500 does seem a bit high but make no mistake about it, this is a squash match.

Bonus: Paul Felder vs. Ross Pearson

Fighter Win Pct. Estimate Strike Score Knockdown Score Takedown Score
Paul Felder 45.5% 104.3 165.6 58.7
Ross Pearson 54.5% 118.5 170.2 78.6

Felder’s betting price of -440 is just absurd. I like the guy, but is Felder REALLY that good? He looked great against Danny Castillo and then dropped a decision to Edson Barboza… and now he’s expected to dominate Ross Pearson? Pearson actually has the slightly better striking statistics, and that makes him a slight favorite to win according to the model.

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!