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Every sport betting discipline requires a different handicapping process and even within an individual sport there’s no ‘one size fits all’ method of determining winners and losers. In fact, the most common mistake made by beginning handicappers is an oversimplification of the evaluation process—looking only at some components of a betting proposition while ignoring others. For that reason, this list should not be taken as an exhaustive ‘checklist’ for MMA and UFC betting but rather some good concepts with which to begin the handicapping process:
Whenever Possible Bet On Underdogs: Finding ‘live’ dogs is a solid handicapping strategy in any sports betting pursuit, but it’s essential in MMA. The competitive dynamic of MMA is such that once you get past the top fighters in an individual weight class there’s a lot of parity. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that betting odds by definition are a reflection of public perception. For that reason you’ll frequently find fighters priced based as much on ‘name recognition’ than intrinsic ability or recent form. In many cases, the lower profile fighter may be an underdog when in actuality he should be the favorite just because fewer people are familiar with his name.
Favor Fighters Who Finish: If you are going to bet on a favorite, make sure he’s a fighter with a proven track record of ending fights early by knockout or submission. Unlike boxing, where a superior fighter can easily dictate pace and tempo to keep their opponent off balance that’s virtually impossible in MMA. That fact, combined with fewer rounds, means that you want to avoid laying big prices with favorites who don’t ‘finish’ fights. A favorite should not only be a top level fighter, but one who has the ability to end them early via KO or submission as opposed to ‘grinding out’ decisions.
Don’t Overvalue UFC Experience: The UFC is not like the NFL or NBA—meaning that its not the top level of competition or the pinnacle at the end of a long competitive road. While most of the UFC champions are likely the top fighters in the world at the weight, once you go down the roster any qualitative advantage over other promotions simply isn’t there. You’ll frequently pay a premium on a fighter with a lot of UFC experience against one with less experience. The fact that one fighter has fought in the UFC and one hasn’t is simply irrelevant and you’ll frequently find a good value on the one without it. Keep in mind that the UFC is just another fight promotion and as such has a vested interest in ‘promoting’ their fighters as superior. Go beyond the hype and make your own decisions.
Due Diligence Is Crucial: There’s no substitute for watching fights and formulating your own opinions. For this reason a fight handicapper should make extensive use of YouTube and other video websites. The UFC is more vigilant about enforcing copyrights than smaller promotions, but you can join the UFC’s video archive and have access to their video library for a small monthly fee. This is a great investment if you’re planning to do any serious MMA betting.