A big favorite is a UFC fighter that is a -300 or wider favorite to win. This UFC betting article will answer the following questions about big favorites:
The short answers to those UFC betting questions will be at the bottom of this article for use as a quick reference guide. All analysis in this post is only from the UFC promotion. So, no other statistics from any other MMA organization will be included.
All UFC betting for over/under lines can be made at 5Dimes. These lines usually come out a few days before the start time of an upcoming UFC event.
The goal of this article is to help influence profitable betting decisions. If any readers are interested in a PDF with data on the past 134 UFC matchups with a big favorite, that information can be accessed through this link. Here’s a clip of what is on that link.
Now, let’s jump right in…
the quick answer is 52.2% (70/134). That statistic takes into account data from UFC Fight Night 114 to UFC Fight Night 138, which is the past 46 UFC events. So, a matchup with a big favorite will result in a finish before the lined fight total more than half of the time. This statistic includes the results from the sum of all the over and under variations (1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5 rounds).
Intuitively, this makes sense. The wider the perceived margin in skill by oddsmakers, or the wisdom of the crowd, the more likely a finish will occur, and with more finishes comes a greater likelihood of that matchup finishing under the fight total (more finishes = more potential for a finish to be under the fight total).
What makes this statistic hold any value (value = probability of occuring > implied odds from the moneyline)? Well… statistics are good for benchmarks to compare the probability of future outcomes to the record of the past. The value is derived from embedding the information into future decision making. How I would apply this 52.2% win percentage for under bets is to start by analyzing the idiosyncrasies of a fighter, if there are any questions about a fighter’s ability to defend submissions or withstand an opponent’s striking arsenal, and they happen to be fighting against someone who is lined as a big favorite, look at the odds and figure out if the implied probability for an under is lower than 52.2%. If that’s the case, utilize your best judgement and place a wager that feels comfortable.
To gain a better perspective of how big that 52.2% statistic is, let’s see what the other side of the coin reveals.
During the same span of UFC events (46), the under only cashes 36.2% of the time (see the image below), when a matchup doesn’t have a big favorite. The under is 16% more likely to occur (win/cash) when a big favorite is involved. That’s a substantial difference!
Although the sample sizes are different, the point of this comparison is to see how big favorites and non-big favorites performed on fight totals during the same amount of UFC cards, not fights. The reason for that is there are only an average of 2.9 big favorites per card (134/46) compared to 9.2 non-big favorites per card (425/46). If the sample sizes were to be the same, one would have to compare years of big favorite data to months of non-big favorite data. Considering how much the sport has evolved over the past few years, the data would be less meaningful to compare a big favorite from 3 years ago to a non-big favorite from 3 months ago.
In knowing this statistic, a bettor should be more skeptical in wagering on an under when there isn’t a big favorite in the matchup.
To derive even more value from the previous statistic, you can subtract these numbers by 100% to get how often the over cashes. With no big favorite, the over cashes 63.8% of the time (100.0-36.2). So, we now have a benchmark for the over and under for matchups with or without a big favorite, but how can we appraise different fight totals for value?
The picture below describes how likely the over/under 1.5 rounds cashes compared to the 2.5 round prop. As you can see, it would be more financially responsible to bet the under 2.5 and the over 1.5, when a big favorite is facing a big underdog.
In analyzing the past 134 UFC fights with a big favorite, the big favorite stopped their opponent in 68 of those contests (50.7%). The method of victory picture below will display how often these finishes were by knockout or submission.
The year of 2018 has seen 79 total matchups with a big favorite. 12 of those 79 lost, which equals a 15.2% upset rate. This is worth repeating. In 2018, an underdog has defeated a big favorite 15.2% of the time. Given those odds, it takes pattern recognition skills to develop the selection criteria necessary to avoid those landmines and/or hit that lucky jackpot. Stay posted for an upcoming article on what commonalities exist between all big upsets.
In 2018, the 12 fighters that lost were:
As you can see from the image below, the most common method of victory is a knockout.
The pie chart below breaks down fight results from big favorites and compares that data with matchups excluding them.
Personally, I wouldn’t have predicted that knockout victories would stay closely identical regardless of whether someone is a big favorite or not. As for now, I will only assign a marginal preference for big favorites over other matchups to get a knockout. However, I will have an increased bias for a matchup without a big favorite to go to decision. The difference between submissions and decision outcomes are very significant between the two pie charts.
Here is a quick rundown of what I described in this UFC betting article:
2. When betting an under, in a matchup with a big favorite, favor the 2.5 rounds line over the 1.5 rounds line. Obvious, I know!
3. If a fighter is a -550 (84.6% implied odds), consider passing. Regardless of the confidence one has in a big favorite to win, realize that the current upset rate in 2018 is 15.2%.
4. A matchup with a big favorite is almost twice as more likely to end in submission than a matchup without one. When you see a big favorite with great submission ability, it would be in your favor to place a “win by submission” prop bet, depending on what the odds are. You can bet these type of bets at 5Dimes.
As promised, here are the short answers to the first five UFC betting questions written above:
1. How often does an under cash when the matchup has a big favorite? 52.2% with a sample size of 134.
2. How often does an under cash when the matchup doesn’t have a big favorite? 36.2% with a sample size of 425.
3. How often does a big favorite finish their opponent? 50.7% with a sample size of 134.
4. How many big favorites have lost in 2018? Which big favorites have lost in 2018? 12 – Perry, Ngannou, Ankalaev, Dariush, F. Silva, Bhullar, Taleb, D. Johnson, W. Alves, Alvey, Patrick, and Edwards.
5. What is the most common method of victory in a matchup with a big favorite? Knockout, which happens 36.6% of the time. The sample size is 134.
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