Rematches are very common in the UFC. They aren’t always well promoted, but quite often the two fighters meeting in the Octagon have been there before. Paying attention to these earlier fights and how they turned out can be very useful for bettors. If you aren’t careful, though, they can also be quite misleading. Here are five factors for bettors to consider when looking at the impact of a rematch in MMA handicapping:
What happened last time? – The starting point for any betting analysis of a rematch is to look at what happened the last time the fighters met. You can gain a surprising advantage over the public here. For most people this analysis will only consist of who won or lost. If you have watched a lot of MMA action though, you know that the result doesn’t always tell the whole story of the fight. Sometimes one fighter will dominate the match, but his opponent will get lucky and find an opportunity to come out on top. If he hadn’t have had that one moment of good luck then he likely wouldn’t have won. You can’t be sure he’ll get lucky again. On the other hand, if the winner not only won but totally dominated, then it’s quite possible that he will have a strong edge again. By going back and looking at articles describing the last fight and how it turned out – live updates of the fight on a round-by-round live basis are best because they aren’t colored by the eventual result – you will have a much better understanding of the fighters past fight than most people.
How long ago was it? – A rematch that happened six months ago would be a lot more useful in terms of handicapping than one that happened six years ago. The more time that has passed between fights the more potential there are for changes, and the more uncertainty there is as a result. The more that could have changed, the less you can be certain that what happened last time will happen again. As a general rule, if the first meeting was more than 18 months ago, or if the fighters have fought more than two other fights since, then it`s tough to put a lot of faith into anything you learn from the fight.
What has changed since? – There will always be things that change for fighters since their last fight. The more changes you can identify and understand the better you’ll be when it comes to handicapping. Are the fighters at the same weight? Has one or both changed where they train or who they train with? Has one dealt with an injury? Have the fighters shown a different style, or an evolution in styles since last meeting? Have they beaten particularly good fighters since, or lost in surprising fashion? The more you can identify, the better the chances that you’ll find something that will have a significant impact on the outcome – which can lead you to a profitable bet.
Will the public care about the last fight? – Sometimes a rematch will be a big part of the storyline in a fight. This is especially likely if the fight falls on the top of the card and is heavily promoted as a result. More often though, the general public will only be barely aware that the fighters have fought before. It won’t be a significant factor in the promotion of the fight, and the fight won’t get a whole lot of promotion in the first place. The public’s interest in the first fight will also be influenced by what kind of fight it was. If it was controversial, particularly exciting, or high profile then it will draw a lot attention than a forgettable mid-card affair. The more the public is aware of the first fight, the more influence it will have on their decision making process this time. The oddsmakers will be aware of that, so the public interest and awareness will have a direct impact on how the lines are set and how they move.
How did the public bet last time? – It’s not always possible to figure this out, but it can be useful. If you can get a sense of how the public bet on the last fight – what biases they had and how that turned out for them – you might get a sense of how they will respond this time. If, for example, the public was heavily on one fighter and that fighter won then chances are good that they will heavily be on that fighter again.