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Wagering on MMA

MMA Betting: Wagering on a Young Sport

By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

MMA is unique in the world of sports betting. Unlike baseball, football, basketball, boxing, and all other sports, MMA hasn’t been around very long. Only in the last decade (This article written in 2013) has there been any real viable wagering on MMA. Unlike the other sports, where the traditions are rich, MMA is still finding its way. That presents challenges to the betting man, who must also evolve to match the rapid growth of this young sport.

The parameters in others sports are set. We know what to expect and can reference it against different decades. What made a great pitcher 20 years ago is what makes a great pitcher today. A great quarterback from the 80’s would still be great today. And that goes for boxing, basketball, and all the rest. Not so much for MMA, however.

The sport is constantly changing. What worked well 5 years ago might not today. Take a look at the pound-for-pound top ten in MMA. How many of those guys had you heard of 4-5 years ago? In boxing, for example, everyone in the pound-for-pound top ten was known 5 years ago. It’s a more established sport.

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It forces us as MMA betting men to constantly recalibrate our perceptions of fighters. Once we perceive a fighter a certain way, it can take a lot to change that. If we don’t, however, we risk being left in the dust by a sport where things change rather quickly over time. In most sports, we know what are the more timeless qualities. Good shooting always wins out in basketball. Power is always an equalizing talent in boxing. A 100 mph fastball will always have a place in baseball.

In MMA, it can be harder to identify the more timeless qualities, as opposed to what might work today and not tomorrow. Obviously, punching power is one trait that never gets old. Look at the fighters who thrived at a high age. Most of them were versatile, but relied on a big punch later in their careers.

To a large degree, this dynamic can be psychological. We spend a lot of time forming our opinions for the purposes of betting. We observe closely and try to define which fighters we should wager on and what styles work well against other styles. Then, by the time we make these judgments--things change. The tide in MMA starts moving away from a certain style or a fighter we made money on loses his edge.

It’s difficult to not continue going to the well after it has dried up. It’s what being human is all about. I’m sure even cavemen who had a good spot to find food would return hundreds of times, coming away empty-handed before they finally stopped going. As bettors, we need to grow with the sport and not stubbornly stick to what won us money before, especially if that particular move stopped being effective.

Another issue is parity. In this young sport, many different styles and fighters are vying to take control. The beauty of the sport is that there are multiple paths to glory. In baseball, you need pitching. In football, you need a good defense. In MMA, there are things a top fighter needs to possess in his repertoire, but the routes to glory are wide-open. The result is many different kinds of fighters, all who have an excellent chance to thrive.

In other words, we might see a few fighters who are difficult to beat. That number, however, is a very small percentage of the total amount of fights you will see on the betting board. The odds in MMA are a little overboard at times and bettors shouldn’t hesitate to pounce. You see this with favorites. A lot of time, they are favorites to a ridiculous degree.

There are certainly fights where the underdog is getting gigantic odds and rightfully so. He has almost no chance, barring some bolt of good luck or some bizarre extenuating circumstance. Most times, however, the fighters are in a similar ballpark skills-wise. Sure, one fighter might seem much more likely to win. There is a chance that MMA lines will become tighter as time goes on. Favorites always seem to be slightly bigger favorites than they should be. As bettors in sport with such gridlock right below the top echelon, we shouldn’t get in the habit of laying numbers that are bigger than they should be, even if we think that fighter is going to win.

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MISC.

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