UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Lopes vs. Birchak

Time of writing Lopes is +192 or an implied 34% chance of winning. I think there is some value here on Lopes.

Birchak is the better striker, has great feet and when he chooses too can be very effective striking from range. But Birchak has a tendency to get excited and want to brawl when he finds some success at distance. If he steps into Lopes’ striking range and chooses to trade blows, this fight could be quite even. Lopes can bang, I believe has the better chin, has good takedown timing during exchanges and should have the edge on the mat if it goes there.

Let’s give Lopes a 40% chance of winning, and this implies ~9% type bank roll type bet on Lopes using the Kelly formula. I’m currently at just under 2% at +220 and will look to move towards 5% closer to the fight, assuming current information and odds hold.

UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Makdessi vs. Baghdad

Time of writing Baghdad is +167 or an implied 37% chance of winning.

I’m not quite there, but I want to like Baghdad more here. The Sultan was one of McGregor’s favorites on his season coaching the Ultimate Fighter, spars / trains with Anderson Silva and was a world champion in Muay Thai. There’s other reasons to like this match up for Baghdad as well thinking: 1) It would be out of character for Makdessi to try to take him down (where his game is arguably the weakest), 2) Makdessi likely won’t bring an unconventional / darting approach to striking like that which worked well for Erosa, and he isn’t as dangerous in his wrestling as say Story was when he dominated the Sultan. If I had to guess this will be a standing battle, and although Cowboy is no proxy for Baghdad, the fight did show effective Muay Thai can be more than enough against the Canadian, and 3) Baghdad has a seven inch reach advantage, and Makdessi’s last fight against Medeiros showed good distance management can be enough to get the decision.

I believe Makdessi will most likely win but at +167 I think it might be worth just under 1% on Baghdad. I’m there today and am happy to keep this level, assuming current information and odds hold.

UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Pyle vs. Mina

Time of writing Mina is listed at +100 or 50/50. Mike Pyle is 40 years young, and has been KO/TKO’d in round 1 in two of his last five. Mina hasn’t looked great since joining the UFC and Pyle is probably the better fighter, but I think they’ll both get shots in & Mina is probably more durable. A low conviction 0.5% weighting on Mina in this one and feel OK staying here, assuming current information and odds hold.

UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Duffy vs. Clarke

Time of writing Duffy is listed at -362 vs. Clarke at +260. The odds basically imply that if these men meet 5 times Duffy leaves with his hand raised four.

Duffy should be the favorite here & odds look generally in line, but it’s still worth considering a few things: 1) Clarke has been an average +234 in his past five fights, and won two (Al Iaquinta May 2014 +300 & John Maguire June 2013 +200). He’s always been the underdog, and provided value historically. 2) Mitch Clarke is very durable, an underrated wrestler (pride of the Walter Murray Marauders) and has a very sneaky ground game (that darce on Iaquinta was legendary). 3) Of the past 62 fights in the Lightweight division where the underdog was over +200, ~26% of the time the dog pulled off the upset.

Clarke at +260 implies 28% chance of winning. I’m not very confident in this one, so am just under 1% weighting and am happy to stay at this level, assuming current information and odds hold.

UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Jouban vs. Muhammad

At time of writing Jouban is listed at +115 or 47% chance of winning. I think there is value here on Jouban, who in his last 15 fights has only lost to Tumenov, Alves & five round decision to Rhodes (nothing to be ashamed of).

Muhammad is undefeated at 9-0 (6 by decision). His distance management, takedown defense & counter punching looked nothing short of great against southpaw veteran Steve Carl in last bout April 2016 in Titan FC 38 title fight. I think some are willing to bet Muhammed will repeat this performance July 7, assuming he’s top tier because he’s trained with Pettis and are buying into his brash talk that he is just four fights away from a title shot. I think there’s merit to “never underestimating a man that overestimates himself”, but lets pump the brakes for a second and consider a few other items: 1) Carl is not on Jouban’s level in my view & that fight was not in the UFC. This matters, 2) Muhammed is taking this fight on short notice & adhering to Ramadan during training. This also matters.

There’s levels to this – Jouban has proven he belongs in one of the toughest division in the UFC, Muhammad has not. Putting money on Muhammed as the slight favorite asks the bettor to assumes a lot of optimistic things. Jouban should be at least -120 or 55% chance of winning in my view. Using the Kelly formula to approximate bet size suggests a ~16% portfolio weighting for Jouban. I’m currently just over 1% at +115 and have preliminary plans to go to ~5%, assuming current information and odds hold.

UFC 200 – July 9, 2016 – Lesnar vs. Hunt

How can you favor a fighter that hasn’t competed in the Octagon since 2011, is taking this fight on short notice after legitimately retiring & not training until the fight was booked just weeks ago, arguably motivated primarily by money and is facing an opponent coming off two consecutive round 1 KO wins?

Because it’s mother f—–g Brock Lesnar, that’s how! OK, maybe it’s not that straightforward…

First off, you need to consider the special USADA rules for Lesnar. I’m not claiming anything here, but absent greater information using some probabilistic thinking & imagination, this dynamic probably favours Lesnar to some degree. Second, if Lesnar gets Hunt to the ground, it’s a high probability Brock wins. I get Hunt has an underrated ability to scramble, defend against the takedown and Brock’s attempts to get him to the mat will likely be where he’s most vulnerable to Hunt’s fists… but just watch the last Mir fight again. Also, although both men are listed at 265, these two are not even close to being of similar size (Brock 81 inch reach vs. Hunt 72 inches). A trip to the mat with Brock on top could likely spell the end of this one. Third, Hunt’s ability to end fighters is slightly inflated right now after KO’ing Silva and Mir – no disrespect, but those two men I believe have a below average ability to take a punch at this point in their careers. Don’t get me wrong, I think Hunt has the ability to end Brock with his fists, I just don’t believe recent history provides the best proxy for how Brock’s melon might fair against similar blows. Fourth, Lesnar is wearing red & white and currently a legitimate farmer living in Saskatchewan. Those who know know, but there is good reason to think it’s not a winning proposition to bet against a Saskatchewan farmer in a scrap. Fifth, of the last 53 heavyweight fights in the UFC 20 or 38% were won by the underdog (average odds +210) with just 15 or 28% of the total going to decision. For some reason not many are giving this factor much credit, but at this weight class, no matter who might be the better fighter on paper, the margin of error for both is incredibly slim and there’s a very real likelihood Brock catches Hunt with those anvils attached to the end of his forearms and ends this fight early.

You can currently get Brock at +150, implying a 40% chance he comes out with his hand raised July 9th. As much as I’m tempted to start building a position today, given the uncertainty on how Lesnar looks coming in & the amount of fights taking place two days before the card, I am choosing to wait to see open workouts and how he carries himself on fight week before looking to wager.

UFC 200 – July 9, 2016 – Hendricks vs. Gastelum

Hendricks has way more fights at a higher level of competition but Johny hasn’t looked like his old self in his past couple outings, Gastelum is a beast wrestler himself with youth, speed & likely size on his side, and I think Gastelum will likely be wise enough to see Hendrick’s takedowns coming (southpaw who likes to drop his left knee for takedowns).

I like the younger man in this match-up, and at +160 today for Gastelum implies on Kelly a wager size far too high for my comfort level. I’m currently ~1% on Kevin at +175 and will look to increase this as we move closer to fight day, assuming same information and odds hold.

UFC 200 – July 9, 2016 – Aldo vs. Edgar

I’m tempted to say the bookies have this one right and it’s a coin flip. But then I think the first time these two met Aldo did not win easily, there is a risk Aldo is fighting too soon after being KO’d, Edgar has arguably shown more growth since the last time they met February 2013, Edgar has the momentum right now, trainers much smarter than myself believe Aldo’s kicks will be countered by Edgar takedowns and Edgar likely has the edge if we get to see rounds 4 & 5.

Edgar is currently +100 or an implied 50% chance of winning. 55% type probability on Edgar implies ten units. I’m not this bold, but at the time will look to move to ~2-3% portfolio weighting post the July 8th card, assuming current information and odds hold.

UFC 200 – July 9, 2016 – Cormier vs. Jones

Best odds I can find today are Cormier +269 or implied ~27% chance of winning. I believe Jones will win this fight, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a closer look.

Yeah Cormier is the older fighter and he lost the first one, but there are still reasons to think he could make it much closer this time. Remember Cormier most likely won rounds 2 & 3 in their last match-up, Jones looked average in his last meeting with OSP, Cormier has been more active and Daniel has Cain & Chi Lewis-Parry this time around to help him in what will most likely be a much refined game plan out of AKA.

Let’s also consider some history, where in the past 20 match-ups in the Light Heavyweight division where the odds were above +300 for the underdog, ~30% of the time the dog pulled off the upset.

Cormier is arguably a top five pound-for-pound fighter in the world (officially #7 today), and hit Jones with 58 significant strikes in their first meeting including 40 to the head. It’s no coin flip, but to think Daniel has less than 30% chance of winning really doesn’t make a ton of sense.

On current odds to get to five units one needs to think Cormier has a ~31% chance of winning. On that thought process and weighting, the risk / reward feels OK here. I have zero units on it at current time, but will look to move to 5% as the two cards in as many days before come & go and new information on the fight comes available.

I’m not sizing believing the opportunity will arise, but the thought process today is there might be a chance to hedge via live betting during. We’ll see.

The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale – July 8, 2016 – Jędrzejczyk vs. Gadelha

Even if you were counting the multiple eye pokes & head butt for Jedrzejczyk in their first match as strikes, the split decision victory for Joanna was the wrong decision. Gadelha held her own on the feet and took Joanna down an amazing seven times in the fight (including three times in round 2 and three times in round 3), clearly winning rounds 2 & 3.

So why is Joanna a favorite? Maybe it’s because with more time in round 1 Joanna could have finished Claudia? OK, that moment in round 1 did show Claudia is susceptible to the KO, but Gadelha ended the round with good space & her feet pointed to Joanna in defensive Jiu Jitsu form on her back, so that’s a stretch… Maybe it’s because Joanna has gotten that much better at defending takedowns since December 2014? Esparza & Penne don’t even compare to Claudia (yes even Esparza), while Letourneau was ~20% or 1/5 in their match, so it can’t be this… Maybe it’s the belief in a five round bout Claudia will likely slow down in rounds four and five, favouring Joanna for the decision win? This is fair, but it’s unjustified based on her history and probably not worth much more than 5% even if you were being conservative… Maybe it’s because Joanna has the win on the record (even though it’s undeserved), has a ton of hype behind her and is the champ who gets way more air time in the press? This is the most likely reason in my view, and is a situation that often brings out strange odds.

Gadelha at +160 implies ~38% chance of winning – let’s be conservative and give her a ~45% chance. On these numbers Kelly suggests 11 units. I’m at one percent today at +160 and will look to grow on fight week somewhere between 5-10%, assuming current information & odds hold.

UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Nelson vs. Lewis

I have limited conviction betting on heavyweight fights within 70 / 30, but this one might be worth a small piece. Big Country nostalgia aside, there’s a good case Derrick Lewis should be even odds or even a small favorite here. He is about the scariest individual I can think of in the UFC today, currently on a three fight win streak with his last two ending via KO in the first rounds. Most recently he impressively survived a full mount & back take by BJJ veteran Gabriel Gonzaga before KO’ing Gonzaga late in the first. Lewis has frightening power and can close distance from the outer circle with a variety of strikes at speed & accuracy that rivals men 40 pounds lighter.

Roy Nelson is 2-5 in the past three years and Derrick Lewis was the one who called Big Country out after his last win, so I’d have to imagine he likes this match-up for reasons beyond a potential two spot ranking lift.

Give Lewis ~45% chance of winning and at +130 or ~43% suggests on Kelly just under three units / percent. I’m currently less than two percent going in and, pending greater information or a change in the odds, feel fine about where we sit today.

UFC Fight Night 90 – July 7, 2016 – Dos Anjos vs. Alvarez

Implied probability Alvarez beats Dos Anjos at +358 is 22%. This is insane.

Consider: 1) The past 26 UFC title defenses just 50% have been successful, 2) Of the 62 Lightweight fights in the past year and half above +200 (33 of which were above +300), ~26% of the time the underdog has won, 3) Alvarez was +309 going into Pettis & +153 going in Melendez, and 4) After losing via dominant wrestling to Khabib April 2014, Dos Anjos faced Jason High (unranked) June 2014 & he out wrestled the current champ winning round 1 in my eyes (before getting knocked out in round 2).

Alvarez is damn durable, very skillful changing levels, underrated in his ability to take angles & dart and has a great knack in making the right adjustments as fights progress. Dos Anjos is a savage, but is still very much hittable. It’s my belief Alvarez will be able to establish himself enough in his striking and/or manage the damage to get inside to test the champs clinch game & wrestling. Wrestling is where I think Alvarez has the greatest advantage over Dos Anjos, and if I’m wrong, I still think Alvarez can compete in almost every other facet at a level much greater than the 22% odds might lead some to believe.

Let’s be conservative. Giving Alvarez just a 30% chance of winning suggests on Kelly a ~10% type portfolio sized bet. I currently have seven units on Eddie at +375 and expect this to grow.