If you’re a fan of MMA then all you need is a cold drink and a big screen to enjoy the event. But why not make a few bucks while enjoying your hobby? Here’s how the pros do it.
Boxing vs. MMA
as a young boy and throughout my teens, my father coming home from work at
night and turning on ESPN to find a boxing match to watch. I could not understand the passion he had for
a sport that seemed to be mostly foreplay while only occasionally delivering real
hardcore action. He would watch two
flyweights nobody ever heard of with as much enthusiasm as others would watch a
heavyweight title match.
did understand that the sport did have moments of greatness. I saw Mike Tyson rip through the heavyweight
division with the tenacity of a pit bull as professional fighters literally
blessed themselves repeatedly before entering the ring with the most dangerous
man on the planet. I recall a
middleweight division in the 80’s with several future Hall of Fame boxers,
Hagler, Hearns and Leonard to name a few, all vying to be called the best in
Those historic bouts I
witnessed captivated me but the majority of fights only bored me. There was simply too much chaff and not
enough wheat. The plethora of alphabet
soup organizations, each with their own champions and the multitude of weight
classes where 3 pounds one way or another separated an entire category of
boxers proved more than I could bear. Much to the chagrin of my dad, boxing just wasn’t for me.
But then something happened. Somewhere, somehow I saw everything and more I wanted in boxing. Sumo wrestlers were fighting bare knuckled
brawlers and kung fu artists were pitting not only their skill but their
particular martial art versus masters of judo, karate and any other discipline
you could conceive. And best of all, it
was a street fight. No holds barred and
may the best man win.
It was three rounds
of non-stop action and the only feeling out process was a handshake before the
match. I was mesmerized by the spectacle
of it all yet almost repulsed by the sheer brutality. Almost. This was all martial and no art but I loved every minute of it. By the time I first saw it, my father had
been gone for a few years and I always wondered whether he would have embraced
it as an elevated combat sport or despised it as the bastard child of the sweet
Today, the grotesque eye gouging and groin kicks are a thing
of the past. Dana White and the UFC have
done a masterful job morphing a barbaric gladiatorial spectacle into a
legitimate sport while taming it just enough to soothe the palates of the
general populace and mainstream media. It now enjoys a growing popularity and will hopefully continue to gain
acceptance as well as fans.
But what would a sport be without the opportunity to make a
sporting wager? Mixed martial arts and
primarily the UFC now hold a place amongst the pantheon of events betting odds makers
routinely offer. MMA fans can now not
only root for their favorite fighter but earn a share of the purse without ever
taking a punch.
Let’s diagnose and
evaluate some of the key components to making money in UFC betting:
Boxers versus Mixed
Only the very finest MMA strikers could stand and bang
with a professional boxer. I would also
say with a great deal of certainty that none could outbox a top 10 caliber
boxer in the ring. It’s a completely
different game. The rounds are shorter
and there are more of them even in a preliminary boxing match than in a typical
MMA match. However, once the match is
taken from the ring to the cage, we have a completely different environment and
the results will be equally as disparate.
When betting on mixed martial arts the first component I
look for is the derivation of the fighter’s roots. If all things are equal, I will take a
grappler over a striker seven days a week and twice on Sunday. If you recall the MMA debut of former WBO
Heavyweight boxing champion James “Lights Out” Toney vs. MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture back in August of 2010 (UFC odds at Bodog were Couture -600 and Toney +400), it was almost farcical.
Before you argue that Toney was 42 at the
time and a shadow of his former self, I will submit to you that Couture was 47
and past his prime as well. Couture, a
world class and NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler, took Toney to the mat
within 15 seconds and submitted him via an arm triangle at 3:19 of the 1st
round. Toney never threw a punch.
Perhaps the greatest boxer on the planet today is Floyd
Mayweather. At 147 pounds he is a five division world champion, has won ten world titles and most would concede, with the notable exception of Manny Pacquiao, the best pound for pound boxer in the world. But how would he fare against the 145 pound
UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo if they were to meet in the Octagon? Aldo would not dream of standing and banging
with Mayweather but once the fight hit the ground, it becomes his world and
Aldo owns it. Mayweather would get
submitted and that would be that.
I only bring up these extreme examples because it serves to illustrate
my point that wrestlers and grapplers enjoy a sizeable advantage over their
hammer-fisted contemporaries. It is the
very first component I gauge when evaluating a fight. Unfortunately, most fights are not this cut
and dried. In today’s world of mixed
martial arts, the fighters are all hybrids of various disciplines. Strikers need to learn grappling skills and
grapplers need to hone their striking techniques.
Take Down Defenses
about each and every UFC champion for a moment. What do Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, George St. Pierre,
Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Cain Velasquez have in common? They are either exceptional grapplers or they
have outstanding take down defenses.
Dominick Cruz is an expert boxer and current UFC
Bantamweight champion who developed a reputation early in his career as a
little guy with explosive hands. He
TKO’ed 4 of his first 6 opponents but as the caliber of his competition got
more skilled, the knockouts were a thing of the past and then had to be content
scoring points and decisioning his opponents. It wasn’t until he met a magnificent grappler in Urijah Faber that he
lost his first and only fight.
debut into the big leagues of the bantamweights, which at the time was the WEC,
Faber submitted Cruz at 1:38 of the first round. It proved Cruz needed to retool and think
about either becoming a world class grappler or at least developing a take-down
defense to stymie the world class wrestlers and grapplers. Cruz now holds a blue belt in Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu and his newly developed skill set allowed him to avenge his only
defeat. His newly crafted take-down
defense led him to a victory by decision over Urijah Faber at UFC 132.
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is a two time
All-American collegiate wrestler from Arizona State but you would never know it
by his record. He is 9-0 with eight of
his wins coming by knockout. He is a
devastating striker but is only able to unleash his murderous arsenal because
he is simply too good to be handled on the ground. If Velasquez had no highly skilled ground
game and only a marginal takedown defense, I assure you there would be a
different fighter wearing the coveted UFC Heavyweight belt.
This is part 1 in a 3 part series of the SBR Guide to
Betting and Winning in Mixed Martial Arts, and it comes just in time to help you make the best picks for UFC 133: Evans vs. Davis. In our next installment we will evaluate how a fighter’s caliber of
previous opponents must be analyzed and interpreted while also deciding when
youth is better than experience.