UFC Fight Night 25 is finally here, as Jake Shields and Jake Ellenberger get their hands dirty in tonight's "Battle on the Bayou" from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Lousiana.
And that means there's money to be made for the gamblers among us.
First you have to win, of course, and you should never bet what you can't afford to lose, but since I’ve recently started putting money down on the sport I love, I thought it might be prudent to share some wagering tips before major UFC and MMA events, pointing out the most profitable scraps.
And which bouts to avoid.
Included in the UFC Fight Night 25 betting guide are all the odds for tonight's show, as well as three important rules every bettor should follow.
Let’s get to it.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of dissecting the UFC Fight Night 25 odds and betting lines, I think it best to go over Johnny’s Rules of the Bodogtagon (working title, clearly), which have kept my ass afloat in spite of my own overwhelming impulsiveness.
RULE ONE: Never bet on a fight unless you have seen both fighters in action.
I don’t care how many of his highlight reels you’ve watched or how thoroughly you’ve gone over his record with a fine-toothed comb; unless you have witnessed a fighter in action from bell to bell, whether live or on Youtube, you do not put money on or against him.
Tendencies and weaknesses that can spell doom for your checkbook are often omitted from highlight reels, and even if he spent 14:59 getting his butt handed to him before pulling out a miracle knockout, his Fight Finder will still label it a win.
I paid dearly before instituting this rule. Having not seen Sarah Kaufman in action, I bet on Liz Carmouche, who I had seen dominate Marloes Coenen to defeat her. On that same card, I saw the impressive record of Roufusport’s Joe Cason and picked him to defeat a man I’d never been impressed with in Ovince St. Preux.
Cason tapped to strikes in ninety seconds.
Since then, this policy has served me well. During a recent Bellator event, I considered parlaying Cole Konrad, Pat Curran, and Ricco Rodriguez before realizing that, despite reading about him, I’d never actually seen Ricco in action. I reduced the parlay to just Konrad and Curran and made a tidy sum thanks to his gnarly head kick.
Inability to find fight footage also saved me from losing money on Yoel Romero Palacio and Marcos Rogerio de Lima last Saturday in Strikeforce.
RULE TWO: Bet only on the winner. Do not bet on length/method of victory.
I picked Bodog as my site-of-choice because of the myriad ways you could bet on the outcome of a fight. The prospect of putting money on a heavy favorite and hitting paydirt because he won via decision was quite intriguing.
As has become obvious, I didn’t really know what I was doing back then.
I lost fifty dollars betting on Rafael dos Anjos to decision George Sotiropoulos. Rafael only had one knockout win and there was no way in hell he’d submit George.
Guess who actually learned how to punch?
I made the money back betting big on Dominick Cruz, but it was a learning experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn very well, as I lost money gambling on Fedor vs. Henderson to go to a decision. Hendo is notoriously indestructible and Fedor is Fedor; no way there’s will be a finish, I thought.
Armpit punch for the win.
As tempting as it is to see your favorite decision machine sitting at -200 straight-up and +150 to win by decision, it’s a trap. Somehow, someway, that fighter is going to finish his opponent and you’re going to feel stupid. Murphy’s Law applies in MMA, don’t forget that.
RULE THREE: No panic bets.
Picture this: you’re halfway through an event and all your parlays are in the toilet. You’re set to lose a hefty sum once the broadcast ends, unless you can strike gold on these last few fights.
I’ve been there. Turns out you can’t.
If you’re partway through an event and you’re in the red for the night, cut your losses. Don’t spastically log back on and dump fifty on the main event, especially if you’re violating Rules One and Two.
While I got lucky with Cruz, I was much less so on Fedor vs. Hendo, which was also a last-second gamble. Once the event starts, unless you’ve planned beforehand to bet on a fight if, say, it’s half of a parlay that just failed, sit back and watch.
Anyway, onto Saturday night.
Here are Bodog’s lines, as of Saturday morning; as always, http://www.bestfightodds.com has a side-by-side comparison of several websites' odds. I personally only use Bodog, as hassles with sign-ups have frustrated me enough to just stay there.
Thoughts: Considering the inexperience endemic to a Fight Night undercard, many of these gentlemen are complete mysteries. Of the ones I’m familiar with, the only ones that strike me as good bargains are Stone and McKenzie.
Stone has demonstrated the kickboxing and wrestling acumen to take out Walker, who demonstrated nothing of the sort in his loss to Hougland. Plus, despite Rocha’s purported savvy on the ground and McKenzie’s notoriously sloppy standup game, the experience gap between the two is enough to make that +130 quite a tempting target, especially with how dismal Rocha looked in his debut.
I was hoping to score some dough on Lopez, who I thought to be enough of an unknown that the oddsmakers would play it conservatively, but they seem to be much smarter than I thought. Lopez and Dunham are, in my opinion, all but locks to win their fights, as both of their opponents have demonstrated poor cardio and technical deficiencies that can open them up to a world of hurt as the fight progresses. You could definitely do worse than including the two on any parlays.
I’ve heard the argument that Bailey’s wrestling could make him a live dog. My response is that Sean Sherk is a much better wrestler and got thrashed by Dunham. Plus, unlike Sherk, Bailey will likely gas quickly enough to be decisively throttled in both the second and third rounds.
Thoughts: I like what I’m seeing; let’s break it down fight-by-fight.
It’s not the promoter-assisted homicide Stephens vs. Brookins would have been, but the outlook is still grim for Brookins. While I don’t believe there will be any issues with the weight cut, given that Brookins actually moved up in weight to fight on The Ultimate Fighter, Koch is still a terrible matchup.
Koch has crushed three straight opponents, including a brutal knockout of Raphael Assuncao that sent him scurrying down to bantamweight. His power and technique on the feet are scary and, with Duke Roufus honing them, are getting nastier by the day. Plus, his grappling is nothing to scoff at, as he's got seven submissions to his credit (including one of absurdly lanky submissions specialist T.J. O'Brien).
Brookins is an excellent grappler, but the skill difference on the feet outstrips that on the ground. Jonathan is not Chad Mendes, which I think he’d have to be to execute a winning gameplan here. Lay down some dough on Koch.
McGee is either being seriously underestimated or Yang is being seriously overestimated, because those lines are deliciously unexpected. Yang is as strong as his namesake and has some evil ground-and-pound, but all of that relies on him getting Court to the ground, which Yang’s sloppy striking and McGee’s wrestling will not allow.
There was a lot of commotion about Yang’s debut against Chris Camozzi, with many people decrying the unfavorable judges’ decision, but all I got out of watching that fight was the thought that Yang’s cardio needs work. McGee is a relentless worker with a very solid all-around game, and even if he gets into a hairy situation early on, should have the gas tank to roar back. Definitely one worth sticking in your parlay.
Those are some seriously skewed lines for Belcher. The man has certainly impressed every time out in the Octagon, but -280 after missing more than twenty numbered events and nearly losing his career to a detached retina strikes me as a bit excessive. MacDonald certainly hasn’t been the most consistent fighter in the world, but I just feel like he’s being undervalued. The questions surrounding Belcher’s return may make this very profitable, although I personally have too many questions to risk more than a pittance on MacDonald.
I’ve been flip-flopping on the main event for quite a while; I’ve been touting Ellenberger as a major figure at 170 and proclaiming that he will be victorious, but I can’t bring myself to bet on him at the moment. I’m aware that my great dislike for Shields is probably clouding my judgment, and Shields also has this weird habit of winning. A lot.
After much consideration, my suggestion is this: watch the lines. Shields is much more well-known than Ellenberger, and those odds will probably get wider by fight night. If Ellenberger is ever at +200 or better, go for it. Behind Hendo, he’s probably the hardest puncher Shields has ever fought, and unlike Hendo, he should be able to finish Shields if he gets him down with that nasty right hand of his.
If Ellenberger had displayed more consistent cardio, I’d tell you to dump everything on him right now, but as it is, wait and see.
My Current Bets:
Parlay: Ken Stone and Court McGee-$50 to make $100.81
Parlay: Evan Dunham, Jorge Lopez, and Cody McKenzie-$39.60 to make $93.98
Single Bet: Erik Koch-$40.89 to make $22.10
If these numbers look a bit off, it's because McGee and Stone were slightly lesser favorites when these bets were placed. We’ve got a good weekend ahead of us, ladies and gents. Let’s see if we can’t fatten up our wallets while we’re at it.
Good luck, enjoy the fights and remember to bet smart and within your budget.