UFC Fight Night 95 – September 24, 2016 – Pre-Fight Summary

Before looking at what the odds makers think, I make an effort to ignore others opinions and progress my own first. I made it through about half the fights and then checked the odds. I didn’t see my own views much different than the lines. At time of writing I have no bets on for this card, but thought it was worth passing on some of the initial views:

  • Cyborg vs. Lansberg: Even if Cyborg passes out on the scale from dehydration she should still be 80% type odds.
  • Barao vs. Nover: Barao might be declining some, but he’s still a top five guy in the division. I’d expect to see Nover 20% type odds.
  • Silva vs. Nelson: Silva has no chin. Nelson’s chin is made of titanium covered by a beard made of steel wool. 80% type odds.
  • Trinaldo vs. Felder: Really like Felder and think he has more than a shot, I’m just not finding good enough reason he should be favored against old man Trinaldo on home soil. Trinaldo ~60% type odds feels about right.
  • Santos vs. Spicely: Santos should be 70% type odds or more. Spicely would be wise to take this to ground, I’m just not sure he can get it there.
  • Pepey vs. De La Torre: This fight has the potential to be the most exciting on the card. My sense is Pepey should be 60% type odds. He opens himself up, but I think he’s likely more skilled almost everywhere.
  • Burns vs. Prazeres: Think this one is close, but moderately favor Burns on age, speed and cardio.

UFC Fight Night 94 – September 17, 2016 – Post-Fight Summary

I don’t know what else to say besides that it was a bad night of betting. Since starting The Open Roll I’ve shared my experience & views on 12 separate cards betting over $42,000. UFC FN 94 was the first time I’d lost every bet I placed on a card – losses amounted to $806, which isn’t the worst (~13% of the bank roll) in the context of the volatility I’m expecting, but it’s disappointing for other reasons. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I made mistakes I’d made in the past, which should never happen. Also, despite losing every bet, 8 of the 9 fights (~89%) the fighter I gave over 50% probability to ended up winning, making me further question my strategy.

UFC Fight Night 94 – September 17, 2016 – Pre-Line Analysis

Before looking at what the odds makers think, I make an effort to ignore others opinions and progress my own first. I believe the result of this approach is a more confident view of potential outcomes and a focus on fights I have the most conviction in. My initial thoughts are:

  • Poirier vs. Johnson: Poirier is the better striker, has shown greater threat for KO (against a very hittable Johnson) and is carrying more momentum. Initial thought is Poirier should be ~65%.
  • Hall vs. Brunson: Hall has the potential to KO anyone in the division. Brunson has the potential to outwrestle anyone in the division. I’m not convinced Hall has yet figured out how to be as effective a striker to win when faced with the threat of the takedown, while Brunson has shown he can still work his game against dangerous strikers. I like Brunson here ~65% ish type odds or better.
  • Dunham vs. Glenn: Glenn’s first UFC fight in his 21st fight at 27 years old. Watching Glenn’s last he looked far too willing to stand in the pocket & trade given his limited head movement, lack of feints and no great threat of the KO. Lauzon’s game plan was to stand in the pocket & trade with Dunham, and that didn’t work well, making me think if Glenn takes the same approach it really won’t end well. I’d expect Dunham to be ~70% type odds here, likely to win by KO or submission.
  • Perez vs. Morales: I think Perez should be a slight favorite here, but no more than -150. I can’t identify a lot in the film that leads me to think Perez is better, but training out of AKA and having UFC experience I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
  • Carneiro vs. Robertson: No opinion.
  • Wade vs. Makhachev: Makhachev trains with Khabilov, who last beat Wade handily, so this should help. I believe these two men are fairly evenly matched, so I’m hoping less experience & last KO loss by Makhachev will get me some decent pricing on him, but this should be close to a pick em.
  • Benitez vs. Sicilia: Modestly favor Benitez, but doubt I’ll bet on it & still need to do more work.
  • Montano vs. Muhammad: Montano is the bigger man, is far greater a threat to end the fight than Muhammad is, should have the edge on the mat and is decent enough at moving his feet & taking angles against an opponent who fights relatively stationary with limited head movement. But if he can’t end this one early and it does stay standing, he’s shown tendencies to not stay very active in the right ways (e.g. sub par fight IQ), leaving it tough to have confidence he’ll likely win a decision. Layer on Muhammad looks to have a solid chin, Montano has been out for over a year, and Muhammad has potential to be the better striker (especially in later rounds), I’d think this one is close to a pick em.
  • Quinonez vs. Gomez: No opinion.
  • Montano vs. Brown: I think Brown’s reach advantage & arguably better footwork could be the difference here, leading me to slightly favour the NYC native in this one.

UFC 203 – September 10, 2016 – Post-Fight Summary

Total wagers placed were ~$1,095. The only change post the pre-fight summary was an additional $120 on Gall at -400. I ended up losing $517 on the night, ~47% of bets placed and roughly ~7% of pre-card bankroll. Only two bets to payout were Bethe and Gall. Just one underdog on the entire card won. It’s worth noting, every card for the past six a simple underdog strategy has lost money, on average ~44% per card & ~262% in aggregate. It’s been tough, with my own bankroll (which I count based on net cumulative winnings) shrinking ~$7k or approximately in half over the same period… times like these force a guy to go back to the drawing board and rethink some core assumptions.

For a bit of background, I bet almost exclusively on underdogs. I do this because that’s what’s made the most money historically – I’m not interested in being right & high accuracy alone (like so many betting sites trying to sell you subscriptions are), I’m interested in being right relative to the odds & managing risk accordingly. This is how you make money over time. UFC underdog strategy on my math shows a ~2.6% edge over the past ~850 UFC fights, while more selective UFC underdog strategies have generated well over ~5% edge the past couple years betting over half of the total fights available. I believe this has been the case because consensus perception of how a bout should play out is often wrong – fighters are often inconsistent for unpredictable reasons, the margin between winning & losing is often much tighter than the odds imply, lines can reflect behavioural biases more than they reflect fundamental dynamics, judges & refs are inconsistent & biased, perception of how a fight should go is often rooted from biased & uneducated sources and the list goes on. This is all great and it’s cool betting on underdogs has worked in the past, but this recent losing streak is over a large sample and there’s some fundamental shifts taking place in concert which can’t be ignored… leads me to think betting on the underdog will not work as well in the future as it has in the past.

Some fundamental things are changing MMA betting making lines more efficiently priced & ultimately making it more difficult for an underdog strategy to be profitable – there are more educated eyes & dollars in the game today. Whether it’s UFC Fight Pass, Dan Hardy, Jack Slack or the countless other opinions available on potential fight outcomes via podcast or websites, it’s clearly much easier & quicker to understand key components of a match-up now than it has ever been. I also have reason to believe professional gamblers in general have turned more attention to MMA post some high-profile underdog wins (e.g. Diaz / McGregor 1, Holmes / Rousey), so the nature of the average bettor has also become more sophisticated. More bettors, smarter bettors and all with greater resources…

These dynamics can be seen in the prices. For example, at UFC 183 January 2015 the trailing 50-fight average underdog odds were over +290, while trailing 50-fight odds since Ultimate Fighter 23 July 2016 has been around +190, showing consistent trend for lower potential payouts over time. The UFC is probably doing a better job of making match-ups, but I also think bettors have gotten better at pricing fights. More concerning, today’s trailing 50-fight average underdog winning percentage & edge is at the lowest point it’s ever been since my database goes back (which is November 2014).

So what does this mean for the strategy and what do I need to change to adjust for this reality?

I still think mispricing will exist, I just think it will be less common and potentially shorter lived than in the past. This means I’m going to need to be more selective – more than ever I need to stick to where I have good reason to believe I have a competitive advantage, understand the risk, understand the other side of the bet & why they’re likely wrong and see a clear margin of safety to the Kelly Criterion. The second thing that comes to mind is I’ll potentially need to be more open to different betting return profiles. For example, I have a representative sample that shows I’ve picked the winner ~68% of the time (on over half the fights per card over the period, so I’m not cherry picking; also, this has shown an edge to the odds, which is ultimately what matters), which opens some doors to new strategies potentially…

This new landscape is going to be tough, and it may not be worth my time to continue… I love MMA & watching fights, but the opportunity cost to doing this at this level is real… I’ll give it to Christmas, then decide whether it’s worth continuing.

UFC 203 – September 10, 2016 – Pre-Line Analysis

Before analyzing what the odds makers think, I try to progress my own views first. Pre-line thoughts include:

  • Miocic vs. Overeem: I’m biased to modestly favour the hungrier wolf in this heavyweight match, but it’s close to coin flip I think. Outside of KO/TKO (which is very likely), Reem is dangerous & unpredictable enough standing I think to favour Miocic requires the belief he can keep the pressure on, find a way to reliably secure the takedown or somehow turn this more into a boxing match (I don’t think Reem can take many shots…), and even then it’s not clear he decisively has the edge in all these areas. I might be overthinking it & should just favour Miocic, who has HTA and is perceived to have the better chin, faster / better hands & quicker feet, but without great confidence in his ability to defend Reem’s kicks, close distance without eating a knee and make the adjustment to approach this one using +2x the feints he typically does, it just isn’t enough.
  • Werdum vs. Browne: Have to go with Werdum, but I suspect this view is less sure than what the line implies for reasons I don’t hear many speak on. Never underestimate the man with his back against the wall, and it’s very common for just split moments to decide the outcome of heavyweight bouts, but I can’t find good reason to think it’s likely Browne’s chances are better this time around.
  • Punk vs. Gall: I’m thinking Gall mops the floor with Punk (no disrespect), likely with the most ridiculous odds on the card. I watched less than five minutes of Punk’s sparring footage and based on that, assuming they didn’t plant it to make him look bad to mess with Gall, don’t see how he can win a fight against an athletic 24 year old BJJ brown belt who started training boxing at 13. The odds here should be at least five to one.
  • Faber vs. Rivera: Call me crazy, but I slightly favour the old man here. Rivera looks like he belongs with the best in the division, I was impressed by his performance against Alcantara & Faber is in the homestretch of his career, but after watching film I just can’t find good enough reason to think Faber’s perceived decline / stasis, along with Rivera’s potential growth, is enough to make Rivera a clear favorite (although I do think this will be close).
  • Andrade vs. Calderwood: Taking Andrade on nickname alone. Won’t bet on it though.
  • Eye vs. Correia: I like Bethe here at first glance, but haven’t done enough work and don’t know enough already to have a strong view.

That’s it for now, will be back with the final six bouts soon.

UFC Fight Night 93 – September 3, 2016 – Post-Fight Summary

Ended the night down $1,024 (~10% of the bank roll) on total bets placed of $1,478. Of the fights I picked would likely win in the pre-line summary 6 of 8 went the right way (75%), but unfortunately none of the winners once odds were posted came in as dogs (just two or three dogs of the 11 won on the card) and the props I placed didn’t go my way, although it was close.

  • Lost $430 Bader decision at +188, $120 Latifi R1 at +600 & $50 Latifi within distance at +300. Bader barely made it out of the first after getting rocked & won in the second kicking / kneeing Latifi in the head as he came in for a takedown. Fortunate timing giving Bader his first finish in his past eight fights.
  • Lost $320 Barnett vs. Arlovski within 1.5 rounds at +125 & $100 Barnett KO/TKO at +330. Both guys were very close to getting finished in the first 20 seconds (three separate shot to wobbly knees in 20 seconds!).
  • Lost $100 Issa at +133 & won $34 Lapilus decision at +300. Lapilus decision winnings offset my Issa bet so this was a wash.
  • Won $75 Gust by decision at +199 & lost $25 Blach within distance at +1015. Net winnings on Gust decision was $125.
  • Lost $90 Colombo vs. Danaho under 1.5 rounds at +130.
  • Won on $49 Hein decision at -110 & lost on $40 Bang within distance at +352. Bets washed.
  • Lost $25 Dalby at -125 & lost $20 Sobotta sub at +1025.

UFC Fight Night 93 – September 3, 2016 – Pre-Fight Summary

I’m out of time, so this week’s pre-fight summary is just to get the bets out there. Not a lot of conviction overall on this card, with ~$1,478 bets or ~15% of the bank roll.

  • $430 Bader Decision at +188, $120 Latifi R1 at +600 & $50 Latifi within distance at +300.
  • $320 Barnett vs. Arlovski within 1.5 rounds at +125 & $100 Barnett KO/TKO at +330.
  • $100 Issa at +133 & $34 Lapilus decision at +300.
  • $75 Gust by decision at +199 & $25 Blach within distance at +1015.
  • $90 Colombo vs. Danaho under 1.5 rounds at +130.
  • $49 Hein decision at -110 & $40 Bang within distance at +352.
  • $25 Dalby at -125 & $20 Sobotta sub at +1025.