I have been watching UFC fights religiously since I saw Conor McGregor fight Nate Diaz in 2016. That fight was during UFC 196. The Pay-per-view event on January 18, 2020 was UFC 246. I may have missed a few events here or there, but I have watched most of the UFC fights in the three years since 196. This by no means makes me a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) expert. Far too many corpulent MMA fans believe they know what they are talking about because they buy Pay-per-views. I am just a fan. That is it. I can’t explain how to perform a D’arce choke or a heel hook. I wouldn’t be able to pass guard or mount a successful ground defense. And the only part of a rear naked choke I could demonstrate is when the victim slumps haplessly to the ground after being strangled unconscious.
Because of second hand knowledge gained from MMA podcasts and basic fight IQ, my overall fight picking record is pretty good. If I had a stronger appetite for sports gambling, I think I would do ok betting on fights. I’m not claiming that I could be a professional. As you will see in this post, I would be better off trying to make it as a fighter. But I do like to bet on fantasy MMA because it allows me to have a little action on the fights without causing too much damage.
I have lots of friends who are degenerate sports bettors and I am comfortable saying that I know more about MMA than they do. Many of them have won money based on my advice. I do, however, include the warning with my picks that if they chose to make bets based on what I say, they are doing so with the knowledge that I really don’t know what the hell I am talking about. I may know more than them, but that isn’t saying much. If they lose, it is their fault.
The UFC likes to make the first Pay-per-view event of the year a big one to generate lots of coverage and to get people excited for the coming year. UFC 246 saw the return of Conor McGregor; by far the most popular UFC fighter in the world.
I was torn picking the matchup because McGregor was fighting Cowboy Cerrone, my favorite fighter. Cowboy holds the UFC record for wins and finishes. While I thought McGregor would be able to out-point Cerrone and win by decision, I wouldn’t have bet on that outcome because McGregor was a -330 favorite. That means that you would have had to risk $330 to win $100 and I thought Cowboy had enough of a chance to win to make that risk too expensive. I did believe that Cowboy would be able to survive in the fight long enough to justify betting on the “over,” which was set at a round and a half. I told everyone to take that bet instead of betting on the outcome. Conor was able to finish Cowboy in the first minute of the first round, making that horrible advice.
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The best night I have ever had picking fights was during UFC 235, where I picked eleven out of twelve fights correctly; the one I got wrong was a split decision. If that was my top then UFC 246 was my bottom. I picked one fight correctly that night and it was a fight on the undercard that nobody asked me about.
If life were fair, then your odds of winning would get better after you lose. If that were true, then Las Vegas would still be a dusty old truck stop. I should have known that I was doomed when, on the undercard, Maycee Barber, a -1000 favorite, tore her ACL and lost. Even though that was a pretty specific bad omen, I kept throwing out betting advice to anyone who asked like I was TC the Greek.
The main card began with Anthony Pettis taking on Carlos Diego Ferreira. I knew that Diego Ferreira relied on this masterful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to win his fights. He isn’t a strong striker but he doesn’t have to be because his submission game is so solid. Anthony Pettis is one of my favorite fighters. He recently moved up a weight class and found some extra strength by eliminating a brutal weight cut. He has looked unbeatable in his last few fights and I thought he would be able to avoid submission and beat Carlos with strikes by either knockout or a decision. I was correct and Pettis defended brilliantly until the middle of the second round where he got caught in something he couldn’t escape from. That happens in fighting sometimes. 0-1.
The next fight was Brian Kelleher versus Ode Osbourne. This fight mirrored the first fight in that a wrestler (Kelleher) was fighting a striker (Osbourne). I picked Osbourne because he has a seven-inch reach advantage over Kelleher. Reach is my favorite stat to exploit when picking fights, but I am not a professional. One way to neutralize a reach advantage is with wrestling. Kelleher submitted Osbourne in the first round. 0-2, but we have three more fights to go. There is still hope!
Maurice Greene is a heavyweight fighter with a devastating punch and a relentless pursuit. He is known as the “Crochet Boss” because that is what he does in his off time, crochets. How can you not pull for a guy like that? His opponent was this old Russian fossil, Aleksi Oleinik. I do not mean to be disrespectful; Aleksi is an MMA legend with 72 professional fights. His nickname is the “Boa Constrictor” because he gets hold of you and doesn’t let go. But I thought that Maurice’s youth and quickness could avoid the Constrictor’s death grip and win the fight with a knockout. I was proven incorrect when this Russian bear grabbed hold of my guy and proceeded to choke the life out of him for two rounds, causing him to tap out at the end of the second. 0-3 and now we are only hoping to owe the juice.
If my heart didn’t belong to the beautiful and deadly “Thug” Rose Namajunas, it would belong to Holly Holm. Nicknamed “The Preacher’s Daughter,” Holly was the first fighter to knockout Ronda Rousey, which shocked the world. Unfortunately Holly is 2-5 since beating Rousey and she really needed to win this fight. But because of her past performances, I couldn’t in good conscious advise people to bet on her. Too bad for them because she won a decision. 0-4, but Hawaii always kicks off at 10:30, so bet the house and save the day.
Before the final fight of the night, McGregor v. Cowboy, my buddy from Baltimore called me. He’s a pretty good fight picker himself and we collaborate on fight night. He was watching the fight at his buddy’s house in Mount Pleasant with about a dozen other people from Baltimore, who, he informed me, wanted my head on a platter. Even though my buddy and I were agreeing on the picks, he was telling his buddies it was my advice that kept losing. I would have done the same if I was in a house surrounded by my friends who were currently thousands of dollars lighter, so I understood why he did it.
“Tell them about my picking in UFC 235!,” I pleaded, but they did not want to hear it.
I was certain my final pick of “over” for the McGregor fight would come in and my buddy agreed that there was no way I could get everything wrong. 0-5, and now I can’t visit to Baltimore.
To give you a better idea of how bad I was at handicapping that night, here is the result of one of the Draft Kings contests I entered: Out of 3921 entries, my team finished in 3788th place. If it wasn’t for the one winner I picked on the undercard, I would have finished dead last.
So let me apologize to those fine folks from Baltimore who lost money because of my advice. I am not a professional. I had a bad betting night that you only hope to ready about.