The Danger in Having Expectations

MMA Betting: The Danger in Having Expectations

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

A man without expectations is bound to not be disappointed. That can really ring true if you are wagering on MMA. An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen. The word “expect” means you’re banking on it. It’s not a very flexible term. It’s one thing for an employer to expect things from his workers or for a father to expect something from his kids. Obviously, having that outlook on MMA fighters is a recipe for a letdown.

We shouldn’t expect anything. The way to look at it that we make calculations–not just on the fight itself, but in the whole equation. We break down the odds just as much as the fight. When we make wagers, they should be based on the combination of a fight prediction and an appraisal on the odds being offered. If we believe a big enough gap exists, we will pounce on a good-value proposition.

Expectations are based largely on the past. To varying degrees, the importance of the past can be overrated. And it always seems more recent than it really is. It’s like in regular life and someone talks about a vacation you all took. You’ll always think it was further in the past than it really was. We always catch ourselves asking things like “That was twelve years ago?”

In MMA fighting, you’ll notice the top of the sport is a constantly-rotating rotisserie of names. Go check the pound-for-pound ratings from five years ago. How many of those guys are still at the top? At one time, we had expectations of those fighters that were eventually not realistic. By the time a fighter is good enough to warrant you having positive expectations of him, he is that much closer to his expiration date.

We take this outlook from other sports. In football, star quarterbacks can be at the top for 15 years. So it’s not really out-of-line to count on Tom Brady having a big year. To lock in such a long-term set of expectations for an MMA fighter, however, strikes at the very core of the sport. This is one of the things that the bookies depend on year after year to stay ahead.

All of us who wager on MMA have it pounded into our heads who the top dogs in the sport are. On TV, internet, radio, and print, we see the same names plastered all over the place and it all contributes to a false sense of permanency. Teen pop idols have longer shelf-life than these guys. You see a few guys buck the trend, like an Anderson Silva for example, but time is the major enemy for most fighters and no one is immune to it.

What this means for the MMA betting man is that we should keep our judgments flexible. We don’t etch them in concrete, but rather on a dry-erase board. Things we realize and notice about a fighter that can help our wagering can occur on a fight-to-fight basis. Therefore, we don’t see a fighter just a few times, lock in a perspective, and then try to sail with that for the next 5 years. That does not work.


There really is no lazy way to go about this. More than any other betting sport, MMA requires you pay attention. And also more than any other sport, it costs money to do it with the sport so steeped in PPV. Things really do change on a dime in this business. You’re simply not able to see a fighter twice and two years later, think you still have a solid handle on what he’s all about. Scanning the results doesn’t tell the betting man the detailed story he needs to know.

Even when bettors have expectations, they are sometimes not entirely tied to reality. And that’s not even mentioning how ridiculous it is to expect anything in the first place. MMA is not the wild west free-for-all people make it out to be, but it’s not exactly something you can read with a roadmap either. Just like any avenue in life, we will find with MMA wagering that the forming of expectations is usually accompanied with disappointment.

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