UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Post-Fight Summary

I said in the pre-fight summary my updated strategy would make writing these posts more difficult at times, and I was right about that much sooner than I had hoped… Kelly Criterion is meant to maximize returns, not minimize volatility.

I ended the night down $3,303 (~28% of pre-card portfolio size) on total wagers of $4,898 (negative ~67% return) vs. blind underdog betting strategy of negative ~32% (underperformed ~35%). Three underdogs came through with wins, only one of which (Larkin) I had some exposure. The only change I made post the pre-fight summary update was I added ~$66 on Larkin at +120.

My biggest lessons / mistakes I’m seeing post the card include: i) I should have not made a ten unit bet on someone I gave ~30% chance of winning to (Homasi) without seeing value on hedging options that could bring total odds closer to 50%; ii) when KO is the most likely outcome, I need to adjust the odds I give to speed (e.g. Johnson, Garbrandt, Larkin etc.) relative to a vet with hours of tape / tendencies readily available (e.g. Teixeira, Mizugaki etc.). The call was right & it was the dominant theme of the card as anticipated, but I didn’t make any money off of it (although I didn’t lose much either), despite certain odds providing the opportunity to do so under the underdog strategy; iii) just because someone is a BJJ black belt, it doesn’t mean they make ‘black belt’ decisions (e.g. Uda giving up his back the way he did). Unless it’s a black belt vs. blue belt, I need to understand someone’s game based on history / watching tape, not by taking a title & assuming it means something… which probably means I need to be more selective & analyze less fights; iv) Being totally honest, I feel I am stretching for returns in areas when they may not be there. The most important change I’ve decided to make now is to first decide on who I think will win, how it might play out, and a sense on probabilities before I ever look at the line… I’m also looking to pass on having a view more often, trying to get better at focusing my time where I believe I can best understand the situation & have an edge. Looking back at all my mistakes, especially the ones I’ve shown a tendency to repeat, I think this will be a very positive change.

For context, over the past 70 UFC cards the worst stretch an underdog betting strategy has had is four cards of negative returns FN 86, Fox 19, UFC 197 & FN 87 down +140% on bets placed (if you had put equal weighting on every underdog) vs. current three card negative run down ~120% for the strategy (negative ~74% if you’d just bet +100-200). For reference, over the past 70 cards & ~796 fights if you had put equal bet on every underdog it would have generated ~9.7% weighted average return (~52% of the cards would have been profitable), and implying on ~2 unit weighting per fight a ~197% return, ~4 unit weighting per fight a ~306% return, ~6 unit weighting per fight a ~159% return and ~8 unit weighting per fight a negative ~36% return.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Pre-Fight Summary Update

Just a quick update, I added some hedges… $156 on Johnson R1 at +170 & $25 R2 at +450, $65 on Vettori R1 at +275 & $65 R2 at +500 and $120 Garbrandt R1 at +188 & $35 R2 +450.

Odds have gotten better on both Larkin and Diaz… I will make a decision to up either or post Uda, and will likely add other bets before or during. Enjoy the fights!

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Pre-Fight Summary

At time of writing I have $4,366 bets placed (~40% of the portfolio) primarily on underdogs over seven bouts (average six units per fight) at weighted average odds of +242 or ~29% implied vs. weighted average estimated probability of success of ~39% (implied edge of ~10%). For more details on the bets:

  • $909 on Story at +145, partially hedged with $100 on Cerrone decision at +225.
  • $1,000 on Homasi at +360, partially hedged with $100 on Means R3 at +1,000.
  • $1,045 on Uda at +148.
  • $300 on Diaz at +105, partially hedged by $216 on McGregor within the distance at +151.
  • $296 on Teixeira within the distance at +364.
  • $200 on Mizugaki at +450.
  • $200 on Larkin at +120.

My largest three bets are sized close to the full Kelly Criterion. I’ll be looking to add hedges / cheap upside where it makes sense between now and fight day (and via live betting during the card)…

Those who have followed The Open Roll know I’ve been trying, thinking & debating different strategies on bet sizing, hedging etc. As an update, I basically concluded more selective (likely will be one to four fights per card) full Kelly makes the most sense for me right now… I’m early in my betting career and I’m calculating my bankroll based on +$11k net winnings to-date, so added near term volatility / risk in the near-term (which will certainly make writing these posts more difficult at times) in exchange for greater potential upside (Kelly by definition maximizes growth rate) at this point I think is best (I have good reason to be optimistic about the strategy based on UFC betting history & my own history). As always, I’m first looking to protect the downside and will manage risk within the context of the portfolio as best as I can, but will not be scared to bet up to full Kelly with a max bet size of ~10 units if the edge looks significant enough.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Garbrandt vs. Mizugaki

Time of writing best odds are Cody Garbrandt at -455 vs. Takeya Mizugaki at +444 or implied ~18% chance of winning for this Bantamweight bout. I think there is a modest edge on Mizugaki here.

Garbrandt’s has a very dangerous bum-rush hook style, and relative to Mizugaki is faster, has better footwork, is harder hitting and is arguably more accurate. Thinking about this in the context of what appears to be a fading Mizugaki chin, it doesn’t bode well for his chances in his 33rd professional MMA fight. That said, I still feel Mizugaki is a very good boxer as far as MMA fighters are concerned, and has solid enough stand-up to potentially land some nice shots (he counters off the opponents right hand very well in my view)… if I had good reason to think Mizugaki will find ways to use Garbrandt’s aggression against him and is planning to move out of the pocket after his initial counter (…I’m worried about Garbrandt’s left hook) I’d make this bet meaningful, but I don’t. One other item worth noting is there’s reason to think Garbrandt doesn’t have the best chin himself, which matters.

Garbrandt moves in aggressively swinging hooks. Mizugaki has a great right counter but tends to hang in the pocket too long, and is the slower man of the two. There’s real questions around both men’s chins. A ton of reasons to think a KO is likely, more for Garbrandt but there’s still some for Mizugaki (intercepting right counter?). Giving Mizugaki a ~25% chance of winning implies a ~8% bankroll weighting on Kelly. I’ll be much less than this and will decide what to do likely after weigh-ins.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Means vs. Homasi

Time of writing best odds show Means at -368 vs. Homasi at +375 or ~21% chance of winning this Welterweight bought. I think this line is insane.

Homasi will make his UFC debut on short notice following R2 KO win over 60 fight vet Jorge Patino August 5th. He didn’t take a ton of damage against Patino and cut only to 180 for it, so I assume he should be fine to make 170 & be in three round condition for the 20th.

When thinking about this line, consider Homasi weighs around ~195 on fight night (Means has fought as lows as the 155 pound division), has very heavy hands, a good chin and he, just like Means, likes to stand up & trade shots. I expect to see Homasi get a few good shots in, and if he does, there is a real chance it puts Means on queer street. Means is dynamic and throws punches in bunches, but they’re generally ~70%. Even assuming Means gets four shots in for every one Homasi does, adjust that for power & the 1/5 odds are insane (a pick em this one goes over 1.5 rounds)… also, keep in mind despite being the longer fighter, Means still gets hit – even Howard & Sullivan had moments on the feet. Another thing to consider is, despite the difference in power behind the two fighters punches, I don’t see a big speed differential either way.

Assuming Homasi has a ~30% chance of winning Kelly implies >10% bankroll weighting. I’m currently ~$1k or <10% bankroll weighting on this one.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Story vs. Cerrone

Time of writing best odds for Cerrone is -160 vs. Story +150 or implied ~40% chance of winning this Welterweight bout. I believe there is likely value on Story at current odds.

I don’t like how Story has shown susceptibility to eat high leg kicks at the end of combinations (e.g. Gastelum, Saffiedine etc.) or how he looked in exchanges against a Muay Thia guy like Mafra – although it’s worked, his game relies on having a granite chin a bit too much for my liking. What I do like is how strong he is for the 170 pound division, his suffocating style, how the threat of the takedown should limit Cerrone’s leg kicks and that he throws very hard shots to the liver (where Cerrone historically has had some issues)… really comes down to me not knowing how Cerrone will do against a much stronger veteran wrestler at 170 pounds, and believing there is good chance it could be too much.

Putting ~49% type probability on Story implies ~15% bankroll weighting on Kelly. I won’t be that high, and will land on my weighting closer to the 20th.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Diaz vs. McGregor

Time of writing best odds for McGregor is -110 vs. Diaz +106 or basically a coin flip.

This is potentially the most over analyzed MMA fight of all time, so I thought I’d just list the reasons I like Diaz in no particular order: 1) he is the slight underdog, 2) he has better cardio, 3) he has more heart & doesn’t quit, 4) he’s bigger, 5) he’s actually training this time, 6) the degree to which Diaz can likely absorb more punches than McGregor outweighs the degree to which McGregor can likely land more punches than Diaz, 7) he’s much better on the mat, 8) he’s more experienced, 9) McGregor could be sparring too much before…

~55% chance of winning for Diaz implies >12% weighting on the Kelly Criterion. I’ll be watching closely leading into the fight trying to read tea leaves (… somewhat concerned Diaz could be, consciously or subconsciously, more motivated in a trilogy than he is in winning on the 20th) and determine my weighting likely on the day of the fight.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Teixeira vs. Johnson

Time of writing Johnson is -190 vs. Teixeira at +190 or ~34% chance of winning this Light Heavyweight bout.

First thought on this one is that it’s well known Glover’s cross counter to left hook is his primary weapon on the feet – arguably one of the most consistent tendencies among top five fighters in the UFC today. Glover knows it, his opponents know it, but it still has worked just on great timing, power, skill in the pocket etc. (e.g. Evans & Cummins both appeared to prepare to counter it, but they both still got caught…).

I could be reading into this way too much, but this Henri Hooft Instagram clip of Johnson hitting pads really stuck out to me… the combo is left non committal jab hopping back when Hooft counters, planting, right cross, stepping off to the left to end with a left head kick… the more I think about it the more I like it. Assuming Glover does not find a way to get Johnson’s back against the cage or the old dog learns new tricks (reasonable assumptions I think), and recognizing this isn’t Johnson’s only tool, I feel very good about this approach (for both Johnson KO probability & chances of not getting clipped) to Glover’s cross counter than more traditional methods (e.g. left hook inside the opponents right cross, right knee to the body etc.).

Second thing that jumps out to me is Teixeira’s approach to OSP, which is the most recent bout with the most parallels to the current match-up vs. Rumble in my opinion. Glover attempted four takedowns in the first (75% successful), two in the second (50% successful) and three in the third (33% successful) – majority of which via leg kicks early, trying more doubles in later rounds with less success. I think there is good reason to believe Glover will pursue a similar strategy against Johnson. Thinking about how few low kicks Johnson tends to throw, and his success defending the double-leg against Davis, I feel good about Johnson’s chances of keeping this one mostly on the feet.

If I didn’t have a strategy that only involved betting on dogs I’d take Rumble here… interesting for a parlay. I wouldn’t bet on this in any material way, but I’d reckon this one likely ends before 1.5 rounds are up in Johnson’s favour.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Magny vs. Larkin

Time of writing there is no line on this Welterweight bout.

It’s really hard to justify betting against Magny – besides having the best striking differential in the division, just look at his record. Since the start of 2015 he has wins against Hector Lombard, Kelvin Gastelum, Erick Silva, Gyu Lim & Kunimoto, with the only loss to Demian Maia. Pace, wrestling, pressure, use of range, transition game, closing distance effectively throwing combos, attitude, cardio etc… he has all the right tools and operates at a very high level.

Larkin on the other hand is no slouch himself. Whether you think Masvidal got robbed in that split decision or not, can’t argue that it wasn’t close, which says something about the level Larkin is on today (‘today’ being the operative word… bothers me how many bring up the Lawler win from 2012). Thinking about where Lorenz Larkin could have the edge – speed, power and damaging leg kicks appear to be the most obvious areas… oddly I’m even tempted to say I feel better about Larkin not taking damage in the pocket over Magny (e.g. Ponzinibbio was 36 of 104 strikes thrown in their matchup, which says a lot in my opinion).

When match-ups appear this close, I’m biased to take the better grappler / cardio / transition / wrestling / BJJ of Magny against the man who appears to be far more dangerous on the feet in the first 5 or so minutes. Recognizing the damage Larkin could potentially inflict in R1 & the potential fight altering impact (i.e. how would Magny react if he eats as many leg kicks as Ponzinibbio or Tumenov did in R1?), I’d be surprised to see this line much outside 60/40… that said, I’d expect Magny to open as the favorite with about even odds for this fight to go 2.5 rounds. Should be a fun one!

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Guangyou vs. Vera

Time of writing there is no line on this Bantamweight bout.

First glance this might look like a classic BJJ (Vera 5 of his 7 by submission) vs. striker (Guangyou 4 of his 6 by KO/TKO) match-up. But after watching both of their bouts vs. Beltran (whom both have decision losses to) I’m left thinking although Guangyou might have more power this match-up could be quite close on the feet… I’m even thinking Vera could have the edge standing – he’s more diverse, longer, has better feet… if he can manage the big bum-rush overhand shot from Guangyou he should have the edge everywhere else.

Thinking about how this might play out if it goes to the ground… when Guangyou has been in top position in the guard, he’s shown habits for poor posture and putting his hands in compromising positions (I know it when I see it because I have some of the bad habits myself) – something you definitely do not want to do against someone as dangerous off their back as Vera.

I’m hoping this line is close and Guangyou is the favorite, because I’m of the view Vera will most likely win this one (unless Mark Goddard is the ref…)… thinking ~30% chance of submission & coin flip type odds in the case of a decision.

UFC 202 – August 20, 2016 – Perry vs. Lim

Time of writing there is no line on this Welterweight fight.

Perry is 5 foot 9 inches tall, fighting for the first time in the UFC. Watching Perry’s last two bouts in Square Ring Promotions and Battleground, I’m left with the impression he has a suspect chin, below average head movement and doesn’t set up his strikes very well. Gyu Lim is 6 foot 3 inches tall, with five UFC bouts under his belt (3-2 in the UFC) – all of his UFC wins have come by KO (two R1, one R2), with losses to Magny (R2 TKO loss) & Saffiedine (R5 decision), which is still respectable in my opinion.

Lim is a finisher that has put in quick work against fighters demonstrating similar deficiencies that Perry seems to emulate. I want to learn more about how Perry has been preparing for this fight, but even if he’s abusing USADA policies and training with Jon Jones, I’d still expect for this line to be set close to 75/25 (+300) with around even money for this to be finished before 1.5 rounds are up.