Watching Out for the Letdowns

MMA Betting: Watching Out for the Letdown Spot

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Even in MMA, there are certain fights that mean more to certain fighters. Oh, they’ll never admit it. In interviews, they’ll always give the right answers. But underneath the surface, that may not be the case. Let’s explain what a letdown spot is. A fighter puts all his effort into a fight that means a lot. It’s a big fight–even a career-defining fight in some respects. The fighter manages to pull out a win. Now it’s time for his next fight. What happens?

It won’t always happen, but there will often be a letdown. The fighter pours his entire heart and soul into a fight then grinds his way to a win in a taxing and ultra-demanding fight. It’s natural for the fever-pitch to level off a little bit, isn’t it? In an ideal letdown spot, a good fighter wins a signature fight–a bout that really meant a lot to his career. Then his next fight is against a less-threatening foe, or at least one who fails to evoke the same feeling of urgency of the prior opponent. In this sport, all it takes is a tiny sag in a fighter’s spirits to yield disastrous results.

We won’t always be right. A lot of the best fighters don’t suffer from letdowns–ever. You may be able to identify an ideal letdown spot, but some fighters never wane and approach every fight the same way. But not all of them, especially veterans who already have losses scattered on their record and who have been through it all.

The fact of the matter is that there are certain fights that command more respect and urgency from the fighters. The opponent could simply be really good, forcing the fighter to pour all his efforts into preparation–both mentally and physically. It could be an opponent the fighter has personal history with. Maybe they were in the same camp or they have a rivalry in the octagon. The opponent may just be getting a lot of hype and beating him would be a huge boost to the career of the fighter. But you can look at any prominent fighter’s career and isolate a group of fights that stand out as the signature moments of his career. Now look at what happens next and as a whole, the fighter is not as good as he should be. Coming off a signature win, it’s just natural for the heightened urgency to wane.

The fighter who may have a letdown is a good fighter. In other words, there needs to be a peak for there to be a valley. What that means from a betting standpoint is that the fighters who are candidates for a letdown are always favored to win. In other words, we will be picking underdogs in these spots. That means we don’t have to be right all that often to make this a profitable move.


We don’t want to base the entirety of our MMA handicapping on this. It’s a side-piece, a handicapping accompaniment that could lead up to betting on the underdog. But the other parts of the handicapping equation need to hold up. The style match-up component needs to be in place. The odds need to be right. The guy we bet on simply needs to be good enough to be able to exploit a possible letdown scenario.

And again, it only works for certain fighters. Champions, for example, are not great candidates for this. The very reason they have climbed the mountaintop is because they manage to avoid the letdown. And lower-end fighters are also not good candidates because it’s just too hard to identify the peaks and valleys in their careers. We’re looking at mostly contenders, maybe even ex-champions, and certainly fighters whose best days may very well be in their rearview mirrors.

Often times, a fighter only has so much he can give. Picture a veteran fighter with a big fight coming up. He goes to training camp for 2-3 months and puts his whole essence as a fighter on the line. The fight may very well be difficult and taxing, yet he manages to pull out a win. Then within a matter of weeks, he’s back in another training camp getting ready for a fighter who isn’t so dangerous, who won’t light the fire from within to as large as an extent as the previous opponent.

In other words, we might as well pick underdogs when the favorite is perhaps compromised a bit mentally. To make it in MMA betting, we’re going to have to nail some well-placed underdog picks at some point. And one of the best places to find those are when the favorite may very well not be at his mental zenith.

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