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When Reputation Exceeds Performance

MMA Betting: When Reputation Exceeds Performance

By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

In team sports, there is an issue when some teams have a reputation that exceeds their true ability level. In MMA, it is even more of an issue. In an individual sport like MMA, a fighter's reputation contains more clarity than a team full of guys. It's more pointed and increasingly drummed into the head of fans and those who wager. It's almost as if some established fighters have their reputations drawn in concrete.

We know better or at least we should. A reputation can be built slowly or quickly. In MMA, a fighter can storm to the top after a series of explosive wins. Others require years to forge a winning reputation. In either case, the reputation is what lasts longest. A fighter never loses his reputation until well after the fact. Once a fighter is a feared force in MMA, the evidence people need to recalibrate that reputation is overwhelming. This leads to a lot of fighters whose reputations outweigh their actual merit as fighters. That equals poor value and losing wagers at the betting windows.

For fighters who hit the ground running very early in their careers, we need to exercise caution before signing off on the reputation that is being built for that fighter. It might be warranted. Or it could be a mirage. A lot of times, it's somewhere in between. There are so many variations of fighters. A guy can put a lot of wins together and just so happen to avoid his Kryptonite. He could have beaten some big names, but they were guys on the downside of their careers. Perhaps the fighters he beat in their primes had a certain style that was conducive to him. They build him up to a certain point and it's our job to determine if it's for real.

You see him winning fights conclusively and it can be easy to sign off on the reputation everyone else is agreeing with, but take a closer look. While other people are paying attention to what he does well, picture what might give him problems and then look for a spot against that type of fighter. Don't get hypnotized by how allegedly great he is, especially early in his career. Develop your own criteria and stick to your notions on a fighter from a handicapping sense.

The same dynamic exists with fighters whose rise to the top was a long and arduous one. At least they earned their reputations. They did it with actions--beating a wide variety of styles and level of fighters. It's just that developing a reputation, even if it's genuine, is a taxing process. You reach a line in the sand where a fighter is no longer as good as his reputation. There was a time in the not too distant past where their actual merit as a fighter outweighed their reputation. Then the lines intersect and go the other way at some point. It happens to all of them--some sooner and some later.

Typically, most of the worst value bets involve the fighters with the heftiest reputations. The public bets what they know, which are the best-known fighters. Those just happen to be the guys with the most fearsome reps. The public generally goes overboard in its adulation of a fighter. It is understandable. Who doesn't love a great fighter with a long track record of whipping butt? In a wagering sense, however, these guys are betting poison.

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A big reputation equals a big number. We end up with inflated odds on a fighter who is far more likely to be overrated than underrated at this point. That's a double-whammy. We're getting the short end of the stick with the odds, putting up far more than we stand to win. It makes it so we have to win at a winning percentage that makes John Wooden look like Rich Kotite. As if that weren't bad enough, we're doing it with fighters who could very well be prime for plucking. When looking at the won-loss record of MMA fighters who had great reputations, the worst time to get on the bandwagon is late in their careers.

A reputation, after all, is just a perception of someone based entirely on the observations and insight of the general public. When looking at who succeeds in MMA betting, you will find it is certainly not the general public. Therefore, we need to treat reps with kid-gloves. When looking for a credible attorney or surgeon, reputation is a top concern. But reputations alone don't win fights.

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