Posted by on February 26, 2019

Bet Now!

Below is a list of 25 questions that are designed to help filter out as many losing wagers as possible. The goal of these questions are to come up with a systematic approach that helps improve your winning bet percentage. The utility of this list is that it exists as a reminder of what to look for when attempting to predict who is going to win a fight.

In an effort to keep this article fairly short, I have only provided further explanations to questions that I figured needed it.

1. Which fighter has the better chance of getting a takedown?

2. Which fighter has showcased the better conditioning/cardio?

3. Which fighter took less damage in their last fight?

4. Which fighter averages a higher striking output?

To obtain a ballpark figure, there is SLpM (strikes landed per minute) data on Fightmetric for each UFC fighter. The issue with those numbers is that it doesn’t grade the quality of strikes. The spectrum of quality is either “significant” or not. So, a kick to the thigh counts the same as a hard overhand right that rocks an opponent.

The best way to determine striking volume is to watch previous contests from a fighter and pay attention to their striking tendencies. Are there long periods of inactivity or do they consistently land more punches than their opposition?

5. Does either fighter have one punch KO power?

When a fighter knocks out a foe, does it take an avalanche of strikes before the referee jumps in to wave off the fight, or does it take one power shot to completely shut the lights out.

[RECOMMENDED ARTICLE: UFC First Round Finishes: 5 Betting Tips on How to Predict Them]

An example of one punch KO power is represented well in Anthony Johnson. An example of a fighter that takes an overwhelming amount of strikes to get a TKO is Michael Bisping. Both of these KO/TKO victories have the same result, but one punch KO power is more dangerous and intimidating.

6. Which fighter has faced the better quality of competition?

7. Which fighter is more likely to win, if the fight goes to a decision?

To help answer this question, see which fighter has the higher decision win %? If both competitors have nearly identical decision records, analyze which fighter usually wins by a larger margin on the judges scorecards. Does one fighter win by split decisions and the other has a few 30-27 dominant victories? Give preference to the fighter that typically wins in the more convincing fashion.

8. Which fighter is more athletic?

When judging athleticism, look at their reflexes, strength, and agility of a mixed martial artist. Does a fighter react quickly to their opponent’s attacks? One method of gauging the level of athleticism is to compare a fighter to Yoel Romero. Do they resemble his explosiveness?

9. Which fighter wears damage better?

Another way to phrase this question is: who is less likely to bruise, get cut, or bleed during the match? This is particularly important when judges are scrutinizing little details to finalize their verdict on who they deem as the winner and the loser. Imagine a face bloody and bludgeoned contrasted by a face that is unmarked. When examining those two faces, it is easy to validate a decision to call the unmarked face the winner.

10. Which fighter often performs better in the last round of their fights?

11. Which fighter has the better chin?

A good stat that helps differentiate chin strength is KO/TKO loss %. If a fighter has competed in 30 fights and has only lost one fight by KO/TKO, his KO/TKO loss % is 3.3% (1/30).

The best way to determine chin strength is by seeing how a fighter reacts to getting hit. If they start blinking their eyes rapidly, it means they got hurt.

12. Which fighter has the longer reach?

13. Which fighter trains at a more renowned MMA gym?

“World class gyms make world class fighters” as detailed in this article that covers the best MMA gyms. There is the exception where champion level fighters train at small gyms, but this is few and far between. I personally give a slight 2-5% advantage to a fighter that trains at a renowned gym when they are set to battle against a fighter who trains at an unknown place. It doesn’t mean I’ll always consider them as the favorite, it means I give them a 2-5% higher chance of winning than I would have in the absence of that information.

14. Is either fighter competing in their home country?

One example that comes to mind is when Kai Kara-France fought Paiva at UFC 234. Kara-France was fighting near his home country. UFC 234 took place in Melbourne, Australia, which is about a 4 hour flight from his training center in Auckland. Kara-France received a very gratuitous decision win that wouldn’t have transpired in other areas of the world.

15. Did either fighter front-run in their last fight?

A front-runner is a person that either finishes their opponent in the first round or loses. Their ability to perform drastically goes down every minute past the first round.

After a fighter wins by a first round stoppage, the odds become inflated in their next fight. This is a good opportunity to bet against them. I have collected data from UFC Fight Night 113 to UFC Fight Night 145 (64 UFC events) that shows that when a fighter wins by a first round stoppage, they usually lose their next fight. Their record is 67-70 (48.9 win %) in that time span mentioned above.

16. Does either fighter risk the chance of showing up old to the octagon?

By using the word old, I’m referring to a fighter that could experience a sharp decline in physical ability, in-between their upcoming bout and their last fight. When a fighter gets into their late thirties, father time will begin to erode their athletic gifts.

17. Does either fighter have too many red flags that you are wishing away?

I have fallen victim to this trap. When I was watching tape on Song Kenan, I ignored how terrible he looked in his regional footage. He showed zero takedown defense, low striking volume, and poor cardio. Against my better judgment, I still bet him against Morono. I paid the price for neglecting those red flags.

18. Which fighter is facing the bigger step up in competition?

Which fighter is challenging an opponent that is head and shoulders above all of their previous opponents?

One instance that exemplifies the question above is Montel Jackson vs Ricky Simon. Jackson had never fought an opponent that possessed the relentless wrestling tenacity that Simon had. In analyzing that matchup pre-fight, it was easy to see that Jackson was taking a bigger step up in competition level than Simon was.

19. Which fighter is receiving a promotional push, or has a marketability advantage?

Before Darren Till lost at the hands of Tyron Woodley, he was receiving a huge promotional push from the UFC. This special treatment resulted in him getting an opportunity to engage in a striking contest with karate expert Stephen Thompson, in his hometown of Liverpool.

The contest was mainly a stalemate besides one late knock down scored by Till. The scorecards could have gone either way.

What potentially tipped the scales on the winning scorecard? It could have been that Till was fighting in his hometown, as indicated in question number 14, or it could have been all of the interviews, documentaries, and promotional content that the UFC created for their Fight Pass platform, before the fight.

Did Darren Till’s perceived marketability give him any advantages towards his decision victory over Stephen Thompson? Who knows, but it’s possible.

At the end of the day, with everything else being equal, when the announcer is revealing the judges’ scorecards, I would prefer to have my money wagered on a fighter that the UFC is heavily marketing.

20. Has either fighter demonstrated poor fight IQ?

Countless fights have been lost by horrible fight IQ.

Bad fight intelligence consists of:

I. Going for a low percentage submission attempt and then losing the positional advantage.

II. A fighter that continually flops to their back only to allow their opponent to get into top control.

III. When a fighter dominates in the striking exchanges and then goes for an ill-advised takedown.

IV. Not defending yourself at all times…


21. Did either fighter over-perform in their last fight, or do something spectacular to affect the current line?

22. How likely is it that either fighter has improved significantly since their last performance?

23. Did either fighter bail themselves out of a fight that they were on pace to lose?

24. Which fighter do you think has the tougher weight cut?

In this article by Bleacher Report, it states that “extreme dehydration also has potentially lethal neurological consequences. Depletion of the fluid that surrounds the brain not only renders fighters more susceptible to being knocked out, but it also carries with it the risk of more permanent consequences” (MMA: The Dangers of Cutting Weight in Mixed Martial Arts).

When you know a fighter is extremely big for a weight class, you should downgrade their probability of winning.

25. Has the betting favorite earned the right to be so?