As a poker player I follow the advice to always have a plan. Planning ahead works during a poker hand, and it works in MMA betting too. Before the start of every month, I look at the upcoming month’s UFC cards and I determine which fights are within my circle of competence. Once I limit the fights to only those that I am familiar with, I then think about those fights and try to determine if there will be any likely betting opportunities.
The way that I breakdown MMA fights is a very time consuming process. I watch recent fights, scan the Internet for news, make my decision regarding a possible bet, and if I have a betting opportunity I write down my thoughts in betting reports that are usually three to five pages long. Since the process of breaking down and betting on fights is so time consuming, it is very important that I narrow my focus down to only the fights that are most likely to have a profitable betting opportunity.
A good way to narrow down the number of fights that I need to review is to ask questions. After reviewing January’s UFC cards and the UFC 156 card on February 2nd, I have decided to focus on seven fights. These are the fights that I will be looking closely at for betting opportunities. The following are some questions and initial thoughts that I have on each of them.
UFC on FX 7: Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping
The odds for this fight are going for about even money for each guy. Vitor looked good in his last two middleweight fights against Anthony Johnson and Yoshihiro Akiyama. But at the same time, I question whether he has gotten old yet. Besides his fight with Jones, Vitor has not seen the second round of a fight, win or lose, since 2008. I question his cardio and I am wondering how he will perform late in the second and third rounds against Bisping. For Bisping, I question how he can win this fight. Is there any way for him to win this fight besides by decision? Does that even matter if his decision path is very likely? Is it likely? The key to this fight from a betting perspective is whether or not either guy is at least a 70% favorite. If either guy is a 70% favorite or better, then we would have our requirement of having at least a 20% margin of safety.
UFC on FOX 6: Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira
Quinton Jackson is an old and unmotivated former star who I most definitely won’t be betting on. The question is whether or not the odds allow for a bet on Teixeira. The market is aware that Jackson is not the fighter he once was, and their informed opinion is baked into the odds with Teixeira being a -280 or 74% favorite to win. At those pricey odds I won’t be betting on Glover to win straight up. There is no value in them. But Glover winning inside the distance is going for +140 and Glover by decision is at +170. There might be some value in these lines. I need to watch the tape and do my research, but if the tape makes it seem that Glover is very likely to only either finish or win by decision, then there might be a betting opportunity on one of Glover’s prop odds.
One final thing to keep in mind about this fight is the hype around Jackson. I have heard some reports from the MMA media that Jackson is taking this fight seriously and training hard. I don’t think it really matters and I don’t believe that hype anyway. But some MMA fans will start to have faith in Jackson once again if lots of stories come out about how Jackson is “training hard” and that “he’s in great shape.” This hype around Jackson may move the odds and the odds may get more attractive on a Teixeira bet.
UFC on FOX 6: Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
The odds for this fight are going at about even for each guy. I need to re-familiarize myself with each guy and watch their recent fights, and I believe Pettis is coming off of an injury, but my initial reaction to these odds is that we might have a betting opportunity in Pettis. I have never been impressed with Cerrone. I can’t shake the image of him just standing in front of Diaz and taking Diaz’s punches. He did not try to enact any sort of gameplan against Diaz. He just took Diaz’s punches and seemed to be more interested with getting a Fight of the Night bonus than with winning. I was not impressed. Cerrone is tough to tap and he has never been stopped from strikes so if we bet Pettis it will probably be on a straight to-win bet. I need to watch the tape and research Pettis’s injury, but my initial reaction to the moneyline odds is that we might have a betting opportunity in Pettis.
UFC on FOX 6: Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
My question on this fight is why was it made? I’m half joking. Bader is coming off of a knockout loss and this is an easy fight that was made for him to come back with. Bader is the obvious favorite, but the question is how much of a favorite? The odds are not out yet, but if somehow Bader isn’t a huge moneyline favorite, then there might be a betting opportunity on him.
UFC 156: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Aldo is the big favorite to win this fight. The odds for him to get the finish sometime inside the five rounds is going for about even money. That seems like a potential bet. I want to review how Edgar takes leg kicks. Does he check them? And as for questions about Aldo, his massive weight cut to 145 pounds always gives me pause, and he will be coming off of a year long layoff.
UFC 156: Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva
Overeem did not fight once in 2012 so there might be some layoff issues, but I am not very concerned. I expect Overeem to land strikes on the feet and get a first or second round knockout. Overeem is a -350 favorite to win so there won’t be any betting opportunity there. But I will be looking closely when the prop odds come out to see what his to win inside the distance odds are. I think that Overeem will probably knockout or maybe even submit Silva, so there might be a betting opportunity on Overeem to win inside the distance. Overeem has 36 wins in MMA, and only two of those wins are by decision.
UFC 156: Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia
This is a classic Jon Fitch matchup. He is fighting an opponent with finishing skills, submissions in this case, and the question is whether or not Fitch can dodge the submissions and grind out a three round decision. Erick Silva had a rear naked choke all but finished against Jon Fitch. If Maia gets in that position against Fitch he will certainly be able to seal the deal and get the win. But Silva was able to get to that position on Fitch because he was threatening Fitch on the feet with strikes. Maia does not have the threatening stand up that Erick Silva did and this might be an easier fight for Fitch. I will be looking closely at the Fitch to win a decision prop odds when they come out. There might be some opportunity there.
I hope that this January preview helped get you ready for the fights this month. Have a great start to the year and check back soon for some extended breakdowns, predictions, and bet recommendations on these fights.