The Importance of Won-Loss Records

MMA Betting: The Importance of Won-Loss Records

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

In any fighting sport, a fighter’s record is always right there by his name–a marker of either success or failure. There are not too many professions or positions in athletics where a numerical representation of one’s productivity is always looming. You will see that record when you read about a fighter or when he is introduced in the ring. But what is the true significance of won-loss-records?

Boxing vs. MMA

Look at the records of some of the best boxers of all-time: Great fighters from today and yesterday like Joe Louis (69-3) and Floyd Mayweather (49-0) have records that are befitting their status–great won-loss records that suggest utter dominance.

Now look at the records of some hallmark MMA legends. Take a look at fighters like BJ Penn (16-8-2), Randy Couture (19-11), Chuck Liddell (21-8), Tito Ortiz (16-10-1), Ken Shamrock (28-15-2), Brock Lesnar (5-3), and Alistair Overeem (36-11), it’s obvious that records are a little different in MMA.

Some of these are extreme examples. Many MMA fighters actually have good records, but many championship-level fighters have won-loss records that in boxing would mean they are of journeyman status. Why is this the case and what does it mean to the prospective MMA bettor?

Behind the Records

One major reason MMA fighters have worse records than top boxers is the organization of the sport. A professional boxer can choose opponents from the entire worldwide pool of all professional boxers. It’s much easier to build a record that way, with a bottomless pool of easy fights available. An MMA fighter, conversely, can only fight those who are within the organization of which he fights.

Often times, after a handful of fights, a fighter will be signed to an organization. At that point, he will usually only fight others who were good enough to be signed by that same organization. When you get to the higher reaches of MMA, the competition level rises dramatically. That’s why being 12-0 fighting scrubs on low-level shows is not even light years within being able to go 6-6 in the UFC.

Fighters in the top organizations have very few, if any, easy fights. One must be a good fighter to even be in the UFC. Consider that for every UFC fighter, there are 1000 other guys trying to take his spot. It’s not like boxing, where a top fighter can carefully choose opponents in an effort to cultivate a championship try. It becomes less difficult to see why MMA fighters would have less-glistening records. It’s important to take a close look. Is it more impressive for you as a bettor for a fighter to be 15-1 against low-level competition or is it more impressive to be 10-6 against the best fighters in the sport? If the latter was your answer, you’re already on the right track. Numbers count for very little in this sport.


Sport of Upsets

The frequency of upsets is another reason why it is difficult for a MMA fighter to have a spotless record. Think about all the different possible ways a MMA fight can end. In boxing, a fighter needs to win by his fists. In MMA, any number of moves can lead to defeat. Therefore, upsets are more commonplace. You rarely see a champion reign for a long time. Facing top fighters with a variety of widely-divergent fighting styles catches up with everybody. No fighter, regardless of how good they are, is safe from this dynamic.

You see modern favorites like BJ Penn (16-8-2) and Brock Lesnar (5-3) and it occurs to you that you could have made money just blindly betting against them in every fight. While that technique is a dangerous one, it shows that no fighter is safe in this sport. The long strings of dominance you see in boxing, where a fighter can go 15 years undefeated is not evident in MMA. Upsets are the norm, not an aberration. Betting favorites exclusively in this sport will quickly spell doom for the MMA bettor.

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