Being a Professional Gambler is based on the art of being able to silence your confirmation bias and try to see the truth for what it REALLY is. This is difficult because Cognitive Bias is hardwired into our brains. I guess this is the reason why so few people make money gambling.
A few years back Bet365 announced at a Gambling Conference that less than 5% of people who open accounts with them go on to make a profit. With multi-accounting being so popular amongst profitable players, I am guessing that the number of people who actually do make a profit gambling is much, much smaller than 5%. The majority of that 5% probably consists of people who multi-account when they get limited. Hell, our community probably makes up a good 2% of that 5%!
Before USADA I averaged 60 to 70 units of profit in prefight betting every year, and it wasn’t that hard to achieve. I work much harder now than I ever did back then. The sport was much more predictable before USADA, and I was much more rigid in my thinking. If you were a member of our community back then you would often hear me say in the Chat Room and Forums that “If you consistently bet on the more skilled fighter, you will always make money”. That statement was true for many years, but it’s not true anymore.
If UFC 225 took place before USADA, Charles Oliveira and Alistair Overeem would be insta bets, because they are better than their opponents in every single aspect of MMA. 9 times out of 10 both guys would show up and perform to their full potential and win easily. Can you remember before USADA when Oliveira was able to hang with Jeremy Stephens striking and toyed with him on the ground? Who can forget Overeem neutralizing the grappling threat of Brock Lesnar, Fabricio Werdum and Frank Mir like he was fighting children?
USADA changed the sport forever, but it also changed the way that we must think about MMA. For the longest time, I was rigid in my thinking, and this caused us to record a significant annual loss in prefight betting back in 2016. Since then I have learned that you must continuously evolve your thinking and you must always question everything. You must be radically open-minded and assume that anything is possible.
Everything came to a head in July 2016 after I recorded a huge loss at UFC 200. Up until this event, I had put our losses down to bad luck as we watched killer after killer show up and perform NOWHERE NEAR the level that we knew they were capable of. We saw guys like Anthony Pettis go from running up the side of cages and roundhouse kicking dudes in the face to conceding bottom position against low-level wrestlers like Eddie Alvarez.
By UFC 200, 2016 had shown us a long list of fighters who had changed beyond recognition. By this point, it became clear that my losses were not down to bad luck. They were a direct result of the sport changing forever and me not being able to adapt quick enough.
One of our big losses at UFC 200 was Cat Zingano losing to Julianna Pena. Going into that fight, I could not have felt anymore confident in Zingano winning. It was an easy fight for her.
Even to this day when I am researching fights, I’ll often have to study some pre UFC 200 fights from Zingano and Pena and still to this day I understand why I went big on Zingano. Pena barely had a chance in this fight. She was second best by a considerable margin to Zingano everywhere. This was the exact type of fight where my mantra of “If you consistently bet on the more skilled fighter, you’ll always make money” helped me to pay the bills. Pena didn’t have a chance. She gave up takedowns and position too easily on the ground, and Zingano’s world-class ground game should have been enough to cause Pena all kinds of problems. If you go back and watch that fight, you’ll see that Zingano did dominate Pena… At least in the 1st round. Then for no reason she fell apart.
At UFC 200 I had to watch loss after loss rack up, but when it came to the Pena vs. Zingano fight, I was confident that Cat would get us back on track. I literally could not believe my eyes when I watched her completely fall apart in the 2nd round and repeatedly accept bottom position.
Still to this day I have found it difficult to accept this loss, because Zingano demonstrated in round 1 how much of an advantage she had everywhere. She was ragdolling Pena. If she had looked bad straight out of the gate, then you could perhaps blame the loss on an injury or illness, but Zingano looked great in round 1 and had never shown cardio issues in the past. One of the things that made her such a formidable opponent was that she was able to fight at a high pace and outwork everyone.
By now you are probably wondering where I am going with this because nothing I am saying has anything to do with UFC 225.
Well, I just wanted to let you know that Cat Zingano has made me change the way I look at MMA. She recently appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast and spoke at length about her career. I highly recommend that you take a listen because I believe it will help you view the sport differently. You should then be able to use that new perspective to make money:
During the podcast, she talks at length about the Julianna Pena fight. It turns out that between the Amanda Nunes fight and the Julianna Pena fight she had been diagnosed with PTSD, developed Hyperthyroidism, she had suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, and she was also taking two different types of anti-depressants. Each of these pieces of information would have been a huge factor in my decision making when researching this fight, but when I bet £12,000 on Cat Zingano to beat Julianna Pena, I had no idea about any of this stuff. I was betting blind.
Would I have bet on Zingano had I known she was suffering from these issues? Not a chance…
So what to do we about losses like this? Because I guarantee you they happen very, very frequently in this sport. Do we just cry about them and put them down to bad luck? Or do we try to evolve and look at the sport differently? We should try to be like water. Move around the rock, not move the rock. These issues will always be present in MMA, so how do we profit from them or at the very least avoid losses?
Before USADA I firmly believe in my mantra “If you consistently bet on the more skilled fighter, you will always make money,” but now I think we need to look at fighters differently.
Fighters were Superheroes before USADA came into effect. They had Diuretics to help them cut weight. IVs to re-energize their body after cutting weight. They had Steroids to help them train harder. EPO to help them improve their cardio and Human Growth Hormone to help them recover from injuries.
Take all that away, and we are left with a sport where on any given day someone can show up tired, hurt and broken. This is unavoidable.
Would you want to bet thousands of dollars on a fighter who is tired, hurt or broken?
We are never going to be able to gain access to the type of sensitive medical information that would have enabled us to avoid that Cat Zingano bet, but we can look at the sport through a different lens which could help us avoid some of these losses in the future. It may also help us make money in situations where we can anticipate that a fighter may show up and underperform.
Cat Zingano told Joe Rogan that her poor performance against Julianna Pena was a direct result of the Traumatic Brain Injury she suffered from all the damage she took in the Amanda Nunes fight. So maybe it’s time that we started to look at fighters as Batteries. A finite resource that will one day run out. Sure, it may sound like common sense now. But it wasn’t common sense back in 2015 when aging veterans like Vitor Belfort were still wheel kicking people’s faces off.
How then, does that affect the way we bet moving forward?
Well take a look at this:
Alistair Overeem suffered that devastating KO at the hands of Francis Ngannou just 6 months ago. He has also been KO’d over 15 times in his pro-MMA and Kickboxing career against some of the hardest hitting fighters that have ever lived.
If Cat Zingano suffered memory loss, vision problems and significant motor skills decline after enduring 5 minutes of ground and pound against a 135 pound female, what kind of damage do you think Overeem has suffered getting flatlined over 15 times against some of the hardest hitting fighters to ever live?
Based on my old mantra, Overeem is a solid bet tonight because he is better than Curtis Blaydes everywhere, but based on everything we’ve learned since USADA, he is most definitely not. If Overeem was a battery, his charge would be flat.
This is only one example, but I think we can make money and save money from this new perspective. Jose Aldo vs. Jeremy Stephens is an excellent potential opportunity coming up very soon. In recent years Aldo has been hurt badly by Chad Mendes, flatlined by Conor McGregor and suffered a horrific amount of damage in his two fights against Max Holloway. With all the head trauma he has sustained, is it possible that he could survive 15 minutes against a devastating power puncher like Stephens? Time will tell.
The stuff that Zingano said on the Joe Rogan podcast helped me to rationalize a lot of losses in the past that didn’t make sense, and it has also helped me to look at fighters differently.
Conor McGregor once said that a Gorilla is the King of the Jungle, until one day a younger Gorilla comes along, kills the King and takes everything he’s ever worked for. We’ve always known that the majority of fighters start to decline after the age of 33, but maybe we can use the information that Cat shared on that podcast to anticipate situations where fighters may begin to decline earlier or circumstances where fighters may not perform to their full potential because of damage sustained in previous fights. Robbie Lawler is a good example of this…
When Robbie Lawler fought Tyron Woodley back in 2016, he was just 34 years old and looked like a killer. I felt confident that he was going to run through Woodley, so I bet £6000 on him to win. I wasn’t the only one. If you were a member of the community back then, you’d remember that no one gave Woodley a chance after his lackluster performances against Kelvin Gastelum and Rory MacDonald. In hindsight, it seems ridiculous, but at the time it felt like Woodley was the sacrificial lamb.
How could a guy who gassed out in every fight stand a chance against a marauding, cardio king with a granite chin like Lawler? Lawler ended up getting flatlined within 3 minutes and added his name to the long list of Superheroes who had their careers derailed in 2016. He hasn’t been the same since.
Before Lawler’s loss to Woodley, I would have called you an idiot if you would have said you thought Woodley would win, but looking back with what we know now, was it really that hard to predict? Before the Woodley fight, Lawler had been in wars with Rory MacDonald, Carlos Condit and the prime Johny Hendricks who back then was knocking people 8 ft across the Octagon with his left hand. After each of those 25-minute wars, it seems obvious now that Lawler was heading into that Woodley fight with a flat battery.
Over the next few months, I’m going to be testing this hypothesis out by evaluating how certain fighters look after suffering a lot of head trauma in recent fights. Maybe we’ll learn something; maybe we won’t, but hopefully, in time we can use this insight to make more money and avoid some losses.
At this initial stage, I am not going to be placing any additional bets based on this new perspective because it’s just a hypothesis, but I will be paying close attention over the next few months to how fighters show up and perform after suffering significant head trauma in the 12 to 18 months prior to each fight.
Let me know in the comments how you feel about this stuff and if you disagree or agree with me. Take care guys. I luh you! Let’s make some money tonight.