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A good year for UFC underdogs

By Lou Finocchiaro  () 

UFC Brasilia marked the last fight card for the organization until the heavily anticipated Khabib Nurmagomedov-vs.-Tony Ferguson lightweight championship bout scheduled for April 19 in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

The UFC has postponed its next three cards due to the coronavirus situation. Until a request from the Centers for Disease Control that groups be no larger than 10, the UFC had planned to forge forward with fisticuffs.

So for now we’ll wait and see where (not if) the Nurmagomedov-Ferguson fight will go off. Whether it’s China, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Russia or the beach on some deserted island, we’ll know soon enough. I do believe UFC President Dana White has the chutzpah and tenacity to get his business back on its feet in as short a time as is legal — and I want to believe it will be for UFC 249 on April 18.

So while I hone my database for the UFC from the confines of GambLou World HQ, I’ll share some of the information, angles and approaches I use to handicap the UFC.

Thus far in 2020, we’re experiencing an early underdog run, as favorites stand 56-37-1, or 59.5%.

Over the last three years, favorites have averaged 64.6% after a low last year of 62.3%. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues. A 5.1% increase in underdogs this year from the three-year average does not look like a substantial climb, but when one is primarily an underdog bettor and if one invests prudently, then all or part of that 5.1% addition becomes profit. A 3% to 5% increase in net profit for any business marks one hell of a year.

Besides understanding results, I use a database that tracks several physical metrics for each fighter. I often refer to a fighter’s height, reach (arms and legs), age and weight history, as these attributes can be tracked and together can provide a glimpse into the fight and supply a betting advantage after applying the metrics to fighters meeting head to head.

Examples of information available:

— Fighters four years or more younger than their opponents realize a 63% success.

— Fighters with a 2-inch reach advantage in fights that are for the most part standing realize a 63% success rate.

— Debuting fighters competing on the main card realize a 43% success rate.

These and other metrics are from the book “Fightnomics” by Reed Kuhn. The data is there for any who wish to research it, and I assure you it is worthy of the time.

Data and analytics are important in today’s MMA if we are to run ahead of the curve in this young and developing sport. But there is more to it than that. When analyzing an MMA fight, one should understand the physical numbers, each fighter’s skill set and intangibles such as the fighter’s history and life situation. All these factors contribute to performance.

The goal is to diagnose a fighter who arrives at the Octagon ready to provide peak performance.

The start to 2020 has been solid. Insight the Octagon 2020 releases stand 7-0 + 8.67u.

 

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