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Wagering on Overseas Cards

MMA Betting: Wagering on Overseas Cards

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

As we see the rapid growth of MMA, and particularly the UFC, they are beginning to go overseas more and more in search of a more worldwide audience. With most cards in Las Vegas, we know what to expect. Sure, some fighters are from Vegas, but the audience is not, making that home-field advantage somewhat less. When the UFC lands in places like Japan, Brazil, or Canada--the advantage of a fighter being at home is something we need to consider.

When the UFC brass constructs a card in Las Vegas, the considerations are a lot different than when putting together a card in, say, Brazil. On a Brazilian card, they will naturally load the card with fighters who are from Brazil. It’s obviously done to generate greater interest on the part of the local fans, who will be far more likely to turn up if some of their countrymen are on the card. At the end of the day, it presents a unique handicapping challenge to the MMA bettor.

We would tend to look at a distinct home octagon advantage as an asset to a fighter. He will be buoyed by the fans support. He’s in his own element. The crowd will not only energize him, but perhaps sway the judges, as they roar in approval with every move the home-fighter makes. And all this can have a damaging affect on his opponent, who isn’t accustomed to fighting in that hemisphere or time zone. The fans are against him, he feels more uncomfortable and the potential is there for him to not be at the top of his game.

At the same time, we don’t want to overly-depend on the perceived powers of being at home. We still need to handicap the fight. There aren’t many fights you can point to where the locale of the fight was the sole determiner of a result. And when we see a Japanese fighter fighting on a UFC card from Tokyo or a Brazil native fighting in Rio, the tendency is to attribute too much importance to it, as if all other factors fall by the wayside. Make no mistake, it is a key consideration, but it alone rarely decides the actual outcome of fights.


We should analyze a fighter’s true ties to his country. Some MMA fighters maintain close ties with their mother nation. They may still live and perform there or have a deep relationship with the fans. Other guys, however, might be from there, but their ties are looser. They made their bones and achieved their fame in the United States or elsewhere. They have support from their home base, who always likes to see their hometown boys make good, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to draw electric fan support. In other words, when you see a Brazilian fighting on a UFC card from Brazil, don’t assume they’re all going to be lavished in robust fan support. Make sure he is actually popular there or at least has the type of fighting style that will get people excited.

The shot-callers will go out of their way to stack the cards with local fighters. Usually, they will be matched accordingly. Other times, however, the need to load the card with talent from the home country will result in the domestic fighter being placed in a fight that is a little outside his normal zone. We might be distracted by the fact that a guy is fighting in his home country, while neglecting to take proper note of the fact that he is rising in class and fighting a guy where they would never make that match if it were just another Vegas show. No amount of home support or familiarity is going to allow a fighter to beat a guy who is simply better than him.

When we see a fighter has a hometown advantage, we don’t want to ignore it. It might be enough to tip the scales in what we perceive to be a close fight, but it doesn’t allow the inferior to beat the superior. We should never use it as starting point for actually handicapping the fight. We need to look at the fight and handicap it like how we would normally. And the same things need to be there that are always there, whether the fight is at the MGM or in a guy’s backyard in Brazil. A guy fighting in his home nation alone never wins fights.

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