I had little doubt that Thiago Alves would put on a clinic against John Howard and prove their Adjusted Strength of Record-based prediction incorrect, but as Joe Stevenson's face bounced off the canvas, I knew I was in trouble. The next two fights were too evenly matched to hang any confidence on, and the results reflected as much: the only thing surprising about Jim Miller's victory was how one-sided it was, and Stefan Struve survived an early submission threat to pound an expected win out of Sean McCorkle. At least the main event went my way. After the dust settled, ASR prediction accuracy still beats a coin toss at 55% (11 out of 20).
No love for ASR value bets either, as Mac Danzig was the only live underdog to come through. The success rate drops once again to 42% (5 out of 12). Hopefully numbers will improve in the new year.
An exciting match-up to start the main card, but hasn't Gomi already passed this test? After flattening super-tough Tyson Griffin, the Fireball Kid will ring in the new year against another quintessential wrestler in Clay Guida. Similar fighting styles aside, Gomi shouldn't plan on executing the same gameplan, because Guida's coaches at Jackson's Submission Fighting will be scrutinizing the tape, and they won't let him make the same mistakes. Gomi is an accomplished wrestler himself, but I see Guida landing takedowns more often than not, and it won't take many to secure the win.
Nate Diaz has been consistently thrilling over the past three years, but Stun Gun Kim has been consistently victorious. The ASR formula tends to favor the fighter with a higher win percentage, but the graph tells a story that shouldn't be ignored: Diaz has faced many more opponents lately, and they were generally tougher to boot. Fighters receive higher scores for busier schedules because they're less susceptible to ring rust, and because staying in the cage means they've probably been staying in the gym, which means they've probably been staying off the operating table. This is especially true for these two fighters, as Diaz has looked sharp and healthy in all his recent matches, while Kim was sidelined by elbow surgery for nearly a year. His homecoming fight against Amir Sadollah went his way, but I'm not sure that ASR has the right call here. Diaz is a tenacious and sneaky submission fighter and could happily join Kim on the mat, and get the best of him too.
I've never been more tempted to fudge the numbers so the fighter I preferred would come out on top. Sincere apologies to any of his fans, but I've had my fill of Brandon Vera; he's just taking up roster space at this point. I'll even entertain the argument that he should have been awarded the win in his battle with Randy Couture, one of my all-time favorites, but I'm just tired of the rhetoric surrounding his potential, and I have no interest in seeing him in any main card slots. On the flip side, Thiago Silva has shown the ill effects of his layoff following back surgery. He had Rashad Evans in deep trouble last year but couldn't put him away. Having not fought since, Silva may very well fall victim to ring rust, but I once again have to pick against my own system and predict that Silva will have the bigger heart (no stretch) and sharper skills come fight night.
He may be a screw-up, but I have to sympathize with Leben a little bit here. The Crippler is in the midst of an attention-grabbing career rejuvenation, and here he's been handed a dangerous opponent with a relatively low profile. Even more confusing, and in a possibly apologetic gesture, Zuffa brass promoted their bout to co-main event status after the disappointing cancellation of Jose Aldo's UFC debut. All that aside, this should at least be an entertaining battle, as both men tend to finish or get finished. I'm comfortable with the ASR prediction, and would be slightly less surprised to see any route end in a victory for Leben than for Stann.
At face value, the main event appears pretty cut and dry. Between Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar, Maynard has had more fights, more wins, and comparable competition to Edgar. He's also the larger fighter, more decorated wrestler, and victor of their first fight nearly three years ago. The writing's on the wall, and yet I'm very hesitant to pick against the incumbent champ. I find Edgar's fighting style very similar to that of Dominick Cruz, who used it with fantastic success against a better wrestler in Scott Jorgensen. For all the disadvantages Edgar faces in this match-up, I can easily imagine him using his speed and unpredictability to control the fight as he has many times before. ASR scores favor Maynard, but for me, this one is too close to call. Good luck to both competitors.
|Fight||ASR Favorite||ASR Odds||Book Odds||Spread||Value Bet|
|Guida (-150) vs. Gomi (+120)||Guida||52%||57%||-5||x|
|Kim (-125) vs. Diaz (-105)||Kim||52%||52%||0||x|
|Silva (-160) vs. Vera (+130)||Vera||50%||41%||+9||Vera|
|Leben (-180) vs. Stann (+150)||Leben||53%||62%||-9||Stann|
|Maynard (-140) vs. Edgar (+110)||Maynard||57%||55%||+2||x|
Not a lot of action from a betting standpoint, due in part to some pretty even match-ups. ASR stats yield damn near a coin flip for Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva, so smart money goes on Vera, the book underdog. Similar scenario for Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann: Bookmakers really like Leben to come out on top, but ASR paints him as only a slight favorite. A wager on Stann would be defensible here.
(Odds from BetUS)