Jason’s record on his final MMA picks, up to May 23 inclusive:
2-0 (+4.26 units)
Earlier this week, we took a look at the upcoming Middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and contender Lyoto Machida at UFC 175, who will touch gloves at Mandalay Bay in July. Machida, the former Light Heavyweight champion, was available between +165 and +200 at the time; as we go to press, you can still find Machida at +200 on our UFC odds board, but most online sportsbooks have tightened up toward the +165 end of that range. Is “The Dragon” still a viable option for our UFC picks against the undefeated champ?
Before we get to that answer, please allow me a moment to thank you personally for reading. In case you’re new to my work here, my handicapping is based on exploiting the dumber end of the betting marketplace, Moneyball-style. I use advanced stats to help drive my understanding of whatever sport may be involved, and increase the knowledge gap between myself and the betting public. All this information is out there for us to use freely – but not everyone does, which is why these markets are usually inefficient enough for us to exploit.
The other “correct” sports betting approach is to model the event in question as accurately as possible, predict its outcome, and open up your wallet if the betting lines are worth it. There’s merit to the quant approach, but you need a lot of data, a lot of processing power, and a fair amount of time. Or you could pay for a monthly subscription and let someone else do the legwork. I personally recommend the third way, the Moneyball Way. It’s got a pretty solid track record that extends far beyond Yours Truly.
Justify My Love
With that in mind, let’s look at the champion for a moment. Weidman is undefeated in his MMA career at 11-0, including 7-0 in the Octagon and 2-0 against the former Middleweight champion, the great Anderson Silva. But how much did we really learn about Weidman in those two Silva fights? He performed well, and was tested at times, but Silva handed him the first fight by showboating, and the second fight was stopped when Silva broke his leg on a kick attempt.
Would Weidman have won those fights anyway? Perhaps. But it’s hard to say, which means we have to discount Weidman’s value at this high point in his career. It might never get better than this for the two-time All-American NCAA wrestler. Machida, on the other hand, is on the rebound after his Light Heavyweight run petered out. He’s won both his fights since moving down to 185 pounds, earning Knockout of the Night over Mark Muñoz and Fight of the Night over Gegard Mousasi. The “buy low, sell high” rule tells us that Machida has the betting value in this bout. Especially when he’s been the underdog just one other time since 2007, against Jon Jones.
King Kong vs. Godzilla
We could leave it at that, but we should still try to get a ballpark idea about how close this matchup is, and whether the MMA odds are worth our while. We’ve already looked at the clash of styles, and there are plenty of strategic avenues for both fighters to take. Machida, the karate expert, has the better striking numbers, including a 54-percent accuracy rate to Weidman’s 42 percent. Weidman is the better grappler, landing four takedowns per 15 minutes to 1.54 for Machida. But “The Dragon” also has a solid ground game, and Weidman can throw down, as Silva found out the hard way.
This looks close enough to a coin flip on paper. In which case, picking the underdog at a healthy price is about as easy as sports betting gets. Just be glad you don’t have to get in the Octagon with either of these guys.
Early UFC Pick: Take Machida +200 at Marathon