It is very tough to win a title in the UFC, and harder still to hold that title for any length of time. It is surprisingly frequent, though, for a guy to win the fight, defend it multiple times, and seem like he has settled in for a long reign as champion. Those seemingly entrenched fighters create a real challenge for bettors. They attract a lot of public attention, so value can be tough to find when betting on them. You need to be particularly careful that they are worthy of your betting attention before you choose to bet on them to avoid making a poor bet. Here are six factors for MMA bettors to consider to help you do so:
Does the public like the champ? – There are some UFC champions who are seen as very deserving and impressive. They are widely viewed as the class of their division, and are heavily backed every time they fight. Other champions, even ones who defend several times, don’t have that kind of fierce loyalty. People aren’t convinced that they are strong enough to dominate their opponents, and they don’t always draw heavy attention from bettors – at least not as much as you might expect. The more the public likes the champion the more you need to be concerned about whether there is any value in betting on the champion, or whether you really need to be careful to find the best possible way to invest your money.
Has he been sharp in recent fights? – The fighter has obviously won his last fights or he wouldn’t still be champion. However, there is a big difference between winning barely and winning impressively. Because a guy has won several times in a row, the uninformed public will assume that they are strong and fighting well. If they have looked vulnerable, though, or if they have looked weaker against a particular style of fighter, then you may find nice value to bet on because the fighter will be overvalued by the public.
Is he healthy? – It doesn’t matter how many times a fighter has defended his title if he isn’t at his best right now while he tries to defend. Has he been out of action for an extended period of time with injury issues? Does he have a recurring injury issue that has been a problem recently? Did he have to delay his latest title defense because of an injury in training?
How old is he? – If a guy has had a long reign then there is a chance he could be an older fighter in the tail end of his career in his later title defenses. That means that he could lose some of what got him to where he is -his speed, his stamina, his strength, and so on. A champion can seem ageless, but he’s still mortal – a fact smart bettors will remember.
Has he run out of top level opponents? – After a fighter has been the champion for a long time it is quite possible – and even common that he has beaten the top contenders in the division and can lack a top level opponent. That will change eventually as new fighters come along or previous opponents earn another opportunity. In the short term, though, there can be a real perception that the fighter is clearly and significantly better than anyone he could face in his own weight class. That can have many impacts on a fight. For one, if the public perceives that there isn’t a strong opponent then they won’t bet on the fights as much as they would if it was an interesting fight. When they do fight, though, they will bet very heavily on the champion. The weakness of the division could also have a big impact on the preparation and mindset of the fighter. If he doesn’t feel challenged then his focus could suffer and he could take an opponent less seriously than he should. More than once we have seen long time champs lose to opponents they had no business losing too because of this issue.
Does he seem satisfied or restless? – At some point in every long title reign the fighter starts to let his mind wander. Perhaps he considers fighting at a different weight class. Maybe he starts to look towards other opportunities – competing in another sport, looking towards Hollywood, and so on. Maybe he changes his training philosophy or gets a new coach. MMA bettors be aware that any of those changes can indicate a general restlessness, and that can really impact his ability to perform at his best in his next title defense.