False Alarms

MA Betting: False Alarms

By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

When we bet on MMA, we look through all the information and try to find advantages for one fighter over another. In the process, we look for certain things, parts of a fighter’s profile we can use against him. The problem is when we use blanket standards and attempt to apply them to every fighter equally. Some of these elements require a closer look.

One measuring stick is a fighter’s record. It is always there. When a fighter’s name is listed, his record is usually the first thing you see. It’s like his calling card. Obviously, a surface reading of a fighter’s record can be very misleading. Usually, there is a lot behind a fighter’s won-loss mark. And trying to gauge a fighter’s chances by merely noting that “his record is worse than his opponent’s” is not going to get us anywhere in the world of MMA wagering.

The same applies to a fighter’s ratio of finished fights. We tend to give more credit to a fighter who finishes a lot of fights. After all, he can win fights in a variety of ways, as opposed to a fighter with mostly decision wins–who usually has to grind out wins in one form of another. While there is some credence that betting on fighters who finish is a good move, that doesn’t necessarily make the opposite true. As we bet on fights, we will often find ourselves betting on fighters with low ratios of submission and knockout wins. It comes with the territory.

Age can be another ding on a fighter. We can make a lot of assumptions on guys based on their age. If we see a guy in his thirties with only a few fights, we assume there’s something wrong with him. Not only do we make rash judgments on fighters based on the expectations that a certain age carries, we also get carried away with a fighter’s chronological age.

In sports like MMA, an athlete has two ages–the one his birth certificate indicates and his ring age. Those could be two totally different things, so we mustn’t make generalizations based simply on a fighter’s chronological age. MMA fighters get started at all different times in life. Sure, you’d like to see a young guy brought up in the tradition of fighting who turns pro at 18, hits his stride at about 22, and has a long prime. That’s not always the way it works out.

There are plenty of worthwhile fighters who took divergent paths to high-profile positions as MMA fighters. Fighters from 18-45 can have success in this biz. It’s different for everybody. Some fighters age well, others don’t. Some start getting into MMA in their late-twenties, others are into it in their teens. The point is that a fighter’s age alone shouldn’t be a guiding light when we are trying to pick winners.

A major part of handicapping is to look at a fighter’s resume, at all the different fights he had. We look for similar situations and any number of clues that can help us make a sound wager. And that’s good–we should be doing that. Where we sometimes run into problems is when we favor one fighter’s resume over his opponent’s when the opponent simply hasn’t had the same chances. Sure, it makes sense to lean toward a fighter who has faced the tougher guys and been in the bigger fights. That’s normal handicapping.


Where we let it get away from us is when we hold something against a fighter and dock him points for stuff out of his control. When a fighter is at a certain level in his career, there are certain things he can’t help. He is still in the stages of trying to break into the big-time. So when we handicap a fight, how much can you really discredit a fighter for having not done something when he never had his chance?

In other words, we might tend to think a fighter is going to win simply because of what his opponent has not done. That might work and it’s actually sound analysis if that fighter has in fact had opportunities to deliver and just came up short. It’s OK to think a fighter will do something based on things he’s actually accomplished in the past. But we shouldn’t rule out a fighter who has simply never had the opportunity.

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