In the world of the UFC it seems like title reigns either last forever or are very short. The latter is more common than the former, so bettors need to be able to effectively determine how to deal with a fighter in their first fight after losing their title. Some fighters handle it like nothing has changed, while others react poorly. The better you get at reading these situations correctly, the better your chances of earning a nice profit. Here are seven factors to consider when looking at these fights:
Why did he lose? – This is the starting point every time. Since he no longer holds the title you need to look at who he lost to and how he lost it. Was he totally outclassed, or did he lose a tight fight? Did he perform his best, or was he distracted or underprepared? Was he injured during the fight, or was he healthy throughout? By understanding what happened in the fight that cost him his title you can have a sense of how he might respond, what type of fighters he is vulnerable against, and how he might perform next time out.
How long has he been off? – Sometimes a guy will bounce back right after losing a fight, entering the octagon again in relatively short order. Other times, though, a defeated champion will be missing in action for a year or more. There are several reasons why a fighter will take an extended absence, but as a general rule if a fighter is in good form he’ll be back in action again sooner rather than later. The longer the layoff has been, the more certain you need to be of what that absence means.
Is he healthy? – This is really a combination of the last two points. Was he healthy in his last fight? Has he been healthy since? If the answer to either of those is no then how confident can you in his health and readiness to fight now? Remember, the biggest lasting impacts of an injury can be mental, not physical. If a fighter is dealing with returning from a significant injury then his confidence could be the biggest issue here.
Who is he fighting now? – The UFC tells us a lot about what they think of a fighter and his prospects and preparedness by who they have him fighting next. If he immediately goes into a rematch then the organization still sees him as a viable champion and a serious contender. However If he takes a step down, then that can be a sign that he isn’t ready, or that the UFC wasn’t completely happy with him as champion for various reasons.
How long did he hold the title for? – The longer the fighter held the title the more significant the impact could be. If the fighter had defended successfully several times then he’s likely to be more frustrated by the loss, and likely more impacted by it as a result.
How is the public perceiving him? – Every title loss is significant, but they are viewed in different ways by bettors and fans. In some cases – especially if it was a popular champion or he lost in a tight fight – the public will still hold the fighter in high regard, and will support him strongly when he fights again. Other times, though, the loss of the title will cost the fighter any support he had because of a lopsided defeat or because he wasn’t really respected as a strong champion in the first place. It’s quite possible that the public will give the former type of past champion too much support and respect, and not give enough to the latter. Both situations could create value for bettors who are paying close attention to public sentiments.
How is his public attitude? – We don’t often get much of a glimpse into the lives of fighters between appearances in the ring. When we do, though – through interviews or other public appearances – we can often get a sense of their mindset and general attitude. If the fighter is positive, upbeat and determined despite the setback he has been forced to endure, then it is much easier to trust him in his next fight. If he is frustrated, negative, or looking for excuses it is more risky to trust him. It’s also a clear warning sign if a fighter makes significant changes in how he trains and who he trains with after dropping his belt.