UFC 188 Picks: Using Betting Trends to Handicap Torres vs. Hill

Jason Lake

Thursday, June 11, 2015 8:37 PM GMT

There have been precious few women's fights in the Octagon. Are there any trends we can use to help us with our UFC picks for Saturday's fight between Tecia Torres and Angela Hill?

Four years ago, UFC President and promoter Dana White said that we'd never see women fight in the Octagon. Then Ronda Rousey happened. It's not the first time White has changed his mind – he's a smart promoter, after all. But even with Rousey's unparalleled success as a fighter and a major multimedia attraction, women are still trying to establish a foothold in the sport's top promotion.

We'll see two of those women touch gloves this Saturday night (10:00 p.m. ET) when Tecia Torres takes on Angela Hill at UFC 188 in Mexico City. They'll be fighting in the strawweight division (106 to 115 pounds), which made its debut in 2014. Torres is a –300 favorite on the MMA odds board at press time, but how soft is that line, considering the limited body of work these fighters have given us to work with? Maybe some larger trends can help point the way.

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Dogged Determination
So far, the overarching narrative in UFC women's action is how Rousey (5-0 lifetime in the Octagon) has absolutely dominated the bantamweight division. None of her five fights went to a decision, and only one of them lasted longer than the first round – that was against Miesha Tate (+555) at UFC 168.

The story in the strawweight division has been a little different. The champion is Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who was a +212 underdog when she took the strap off of Carla Esparza in March at UFC 185. Jedrzejczyk was also a +125 dog when she beat Claudia Gadelha last December, although she was –309 in her UFC debut against Juliana Lima; that was at a catchweight of 117 pounds after Lima failed to make the cut.

It hasn't been unusual at all to see the underdog get her hand raised in strawweight action. By our count, there have been 20 fights in the UFC so far that weren't at a catchweight, and the underdog won seven of them. That included a major upset by Maryna Moroz (+600) this past April over Joanne Calderwood at Fight Night 64 – interestingly enough, by first-round armbar. Perhaps Moroz is the next Rousey.

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Turkey in the Straw
The good news for Torres is that Calderwood (–475) was the only favorite above –300 who failed to cash in. The bad news is that the sample size is very small. Only four other fighters fit the category, but she's one of them:

Felice Herrig (–336) d. Lisa Ellis
Tecia Torres (–740) d. Angela Magana
Joanne Calderwood (–650) d. Seo Hee Ham
Claudia Gadelha (–550) d. Tina Lahdemaki

The first three fights on that list all took place last December at UFC: The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale, which was dedicated to the women's strawweight division. The Gadelha victory was in the first strawweight fight ever held in the Octagon, last July at Fight Night 45. These are toe-in-the-water situations where you'd expect heavy chalk to prevail against substandard competition.

 

One Knee Hill
Where does Hill fit on the spectrum? She was a –175 favorite when she beat Emily Kagan by unanimous decision at the TUF 20 Finale; her only other pro fight was a second-round TKO over Stephanie Skinner (NL) at a US Freedom Fighter Championship event in April 2014. But don't let that lack of experience fool you. Hill is a beast, with excellent Muay Thai and a definite power advantage in this matchup.

The UFC odds and the brief history of the strawweight division suggest Hill will have a tough time capitalizing, though. We might be inclined to take a flyer on Hill anyway, given the favorable clash of styles with Torres. Check in with us later this week when we make our UFC picks for each fight on Saturday's card.

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