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Gambler’s Gambit: ‘UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor’


(Yup, that pretty much nails it. via Urijah Faber’s Instagram)

By Santino DeFranco 

First, let me say, I’m no professional gambler, but who really is? What I am is a former professional fighter and a trainer of multiple UFC fighters, and I’ve recently (last few years—not, like, today’s my first time) started betting on fights. I’ve also been doing very well with my bets, so I thought I’d share them with you. So strap in for this, the inaugural edition of Gambler’s Gambit, or, Smart Fights to Not Lose Your Ass On at UFC 189.

Now, I certainly don’t advocate gambling your house or children’s diaper money, especially if you have an addictive personality, but if you’re responsible, let’s take a look at this UFC 189 card after I take you through a bit of my methodology. If you’re already chomping at the bit to see where to piss away your money, scroll down for my picks (and find some damn patience).

Now that all of the responsible people have left the building, we need to set some ground rules:

1. Not every fight should be bet on. Most fights have zero to offer in terms of ways to make money. Either, A: the odds are crap; or, B: the fights are too close to call.

2. Not every fight card has even one fight that is worth betting on, so don’t get shifty and start throwing money down out of boredom. Go spend that money that’s burning a hole in your pocket on something fun, something tangible, like gas for your broken down Jalopy or, as mentioned before, your children’s diapers.

3. Don’t bet odds. The odds are that way for a reason: for you to lose money. What I mean by that is don’t go, “So and so has a punchers chance, and for those odds it’s worth it.” No he doesn’t, and no it’s not.

4. Not all underdogs are good bets, not all favorites are bad bets, and frankly, quite often it’s the opposite. Hell, if you bet $100 on a fighter that’s -500 and won, you’d win $20. A 20% return is better than most mutual funds and stocks—but that doesn’t mean pull everything out of the market and become a professional gambler for the week until you lose it all.

5. You need to be okay losing the money you bet. I have done well lately, and if I were a line chart, I’d have an upward trend, but just like the stock market, I have bad days. You will too.

My Methodology (The Short Version):

The first thing I do is analyze the fights that interest me. I go through each fighter’s record and find similar opponent styles to his/her current match up and see how he/she fared. Then, I go through and watch tape of each fighter and see if they give any tells that make me think he has an advantage/disadvantage against opponent. Then I pick my winner. The pick is the important part, though. I try to only bet on fights that I’m certain of the winner. So, none of this, “I think Robbie Lawler has a 51-49% chance of beating Macdonald.” To me, that’s no good, and that’s how you lose money.

The Picks:
(All odds listed are from Bovada the day of publication and may change)

Remember, these are “American” odds, so if the odds are -250, that means you’d have to wager $250 to win $100 (plus you’re money back, of course). If the odds are +250, that means you’d have to wager $100 to earn $250.

The Locks:

Matt “The Immortal” Brown (-190) vs. Tim “Dirty Bird” Means (+155)

The Bet: Brown

Why: Brown is just too damn tough these days. Means is a scrappy fighter, but Brown is hanging with the elite in the division lately. Though Brown doesn’t seem to be able to get that elusive victory over the top 3, he’s not fighting one of them here, and he comes out the victor. I’m surprised the odds aren’t more heavily favored in Brown’s direction, and because of the odds being so good, this is a fight to throw down some cash without much worry of it disappearing.

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez (-210) vs. Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens (+170)

The Bet: Bermudez

Why: I think Bermudez will know his role against Stephens and stick to a wrestling gameplan and get the decision, as long as he doesn’t find himself on the painful end of a hadouken uppercut.

The Good Risks:

Rory “The Red King” Macdonald (-185) vs. Robbie “Ruthless” Lawler (+150)

The Bet: Lawler

Why: I think Rory is talented, but he may be a perpetual bridesmaid. I think he really wants to win this fight and is going to come out very aggressively, which will be his downfall. Rory beats people that he can outstrike and that he can dictate whether the fight stays standing or on the ground. He may very well be able to take Lawler down, but can he keep him there? I don’t think so, nor will he outstrike Lawler.

Brandon “Rukus” Thatch (-185) vs. Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson (+150)

The Bet: Nelson

Why: I think this fight goes similar to the Benson/Thatch fight. Now, I know Gunnar doesn’t have Benson’s takedowns or power/speed/explosiveness, but he’s bigger than Benson and I think Gunnar will be able to weather the early storm of Thatch.

The Long-Shot Bet:

Alex “Dominican Nightmare” Garcia (-400) vs. Mike “Quick” Swick (+300)

The Bet: Swick

Why: Now, this is the riskiest bet of all. I think Swick has every skill set to beat Garcia, especially given his body type and fighting style (Garcia lost to Seth Baczynski and Neil Magny—both built just like Swick). The question mark on this one goes after: What the hell kind of Mike Swick are we going to see after a 3 year layoff and what has Thailand done to him? If Swick comes back with any semblance of his former self, he wins this easily. If not, Garcia is going to punch his two chins off.

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