The Power of Scrutiny

MMA Betting: The Power of Scrutiny

By Loot, Mixed Martial Handicapper,

Scrutinize Big Favorites Very Carefully

If you are in the habit of frequently betting big favorites, you already know the the high winning percentage you need to maintain in order for it to work. In a sport so conducive to upsets, winning 6 out of 7 over the long haul can be really hard to do. Say, for example, you make 50 bets where the favorite averages out to a -600 price. You need to win to win 43 of them just to stay even.

Needless to say, you should use this play somewhat sparingly and when you do– make sure the conditions are nearly ideal. Look at the records of UFC fighters or even the top MMA fighters. Statistically, you just don’t see a lot of guys with big winning streaks that would justify betting a fighter at -600 or -700. And some of the fighters who get to a point where they are such prohibitive favorites are not always as invulnerable as you would hope.

The funny thing about it is that there is only one way to establish yourself as a fighter to be in a position to be a big favorite in the first place. That is to beat a lot of good fighters, get well known, and achieve some meaningful goals in the sport. It’s just that by the time you do that, you’re that much closer to getting beat. It’s like buying a stock when it’s already hit its maximum point. There is nowhere to go but down.

When betting big favorites, look for fighters who still have their future ahead of them, as opposed to fighters who are rapidly approaching their expiration date. In addition, look for big favorites who are devoid of fatal flaws. A -500 favorite should not have a glass jaw or awful takedown defense, for example. That’s why they’re such big favorites, because they’re supposed to be really good. But sometimes you see a fighter you know has weaknesses and his opponent will be a big underdog because he is unknown or is maybe in a slump. Pick wisely. The last thing you want is to put down 5 to win 1 on a guy where it wouldn’t really take that much for him to lose.

Scrutinize Wins and Losses Closely

It’s easy to look at a fighter’s record and see wins and losses and simplify the reality of it all. We put the fights in neat little compartments. But it’s important to distinguish between all the different types of wins and losses that can take place in the ring or octagon. You look in the record book and all fights fall into three sections–wins, losses, and draws. But there are literally dozens of different kinds of results within those general categories.

To get a better understanding of all the results, try to gain some additional knowledge beyond what the record books indicate. You already know how how the records can fail to represent reality correctly. You’ve seen a fighter get a loss and you know it wasn’t a legitimate defeat. Maybe the referee screwed up. It could have been a bad decision. A fighter might have been zapped from making weight. Maybe an accidental foul prevented him from fighting at his best. Maybe it was his first fight in a division in which he doesn’t normally participate.


Sure, a lot of wins and losses are clear-cut. It says first-round knockout and there is no need for further investigation. Other times, however, a result on paper can be misleading. Take Chael Sonnen’s 5th-round title fight submission loss to Anderson Silva in their first fight, for example. In the record books, it reads as a loss for Sonnen. Anyway who saw the fight knows that Sonnen was fairly dominant for most of that fight. He may have come up short, but it goes to show that not all results are the same.

It is also key to not go out of your way to make excuses for fighters. This is a bottom-line business. You either win or you lose. And fighters who find a way to win despite conditions not being ideal are the winners in this sport. Sure, Sonnen didn’t get blown out, but at the end of the day–he lost. Being competitive speaks well of him, but finding a way to lose that fight tells you something too.

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