UFC 234 Betting Tips, Picks and Predictions

The judges are usually our enemies, but this weekend they were our friends. It has been a long time since we won two split decisions on the same night, but thankfully the judges came through for us last weekend. They helped us out by giving Thiago Alves the win, and they also helped us cash our 3 unit Livebet on Mara Romero Borella. Overall it turned into another solid night of profit and a great way for us to start a new month of betting.

The two split decision wins on Alves and Borella felt extra sweet after our horrendous run of bad luck in 2018. Last year we went 3-17 on split decisions. In theory, bad judging should even out, but in the 10 years that I have been betting on MMA, I can categorically say that it hasn’t evened out for me. Not even close. Some people say that I may feel this way because you are more likely to remember the losses and forget the wins, but in my own personal experience, this is not the case. When you rely on money from gambling to pay your bills every month, you tend to keep a close eye on where you are losing money. I can safely say that bad judging has cost me much, much, much, much more money in my betting career than I have got back in return.

2018 was particularly bad for us. It was undoubtedly my worst year ever, and from the Summer onwards it seemed like bad judging was costing us money every week. We still ended up banking a solid profit for the year, but it should have been so much more. Bad judging cost me at least £40,000 to £60,000 in the last 12 months.

That’s what made our wins on Alves and Borella all the more sweeter. Just 12 months ago we lost a huge 5 unit prefight bet on Tim Means when the judges robbed him of a win against Sergio Moraes on a Fight Night card in Brazil. The decision was so bad that the UFC paid Means his win bonus. The loss hurt, but hometown judging has always existed in Combat Sports and Brazil is no different. When you bet on a non-Brazilian fighter competing against a Brazilian, in Brazil, it is always a risk. It’s no coincidence that 3 out of the 4 fighters we pre-bet last weekend were Brazilians. Betting on Brazilians when they fight non-Brazilians in Brazil is a big winning strategy long term! I need to see a really good opportunity to bet on non Brazilians when they fight in Brazil because if a fight is remotely close the judges will almost always side with the Brazilian fighter. This is exactly what happened in the Max Griffin vs Thiago Alves fight.

I want to talk about this fight in some depth because the judges got it badly wrong.

Let’s examine the fight round by round…

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Griffin won round 1 because he dropped Alves twice and came very close to a finish. I can understand why the judges gave round 3 to Alves under the new scoring criteria, but by using the new scoring, if you give round 3 to Alves you have to then give Griffin a 10-8 1st round. The new MMA scoring criteria which ALL MMA JUDGES should be using for EVERY EVENT clearly states when a round should be scored 10-8, and I feel that the damage that Griffin did in round 1 more than justifies a 10-8 round:

Source: Official judging scoring criteria for use from August 2016 onwards

I don’t think that under the new scoring criteria, giving Alves round 3 is a terrible decision. I disagree with it, because I scored the 3rd round for Griffin, but the new scoring criteria does state that ground control is not supposed to be scored that significantly unless a fighter can do damage or threaten with submissions. Griffin did nothing with his takedowns in the 3rd round, so I guess I can kind of see why the judges awarded it to Alves, even if I don’t agree with it.

One of the most concerning things to come out of that decision was that it became even more apparent to me that the vast majority of people working in the MMA media have no idea how to score MMA fights. Take a look and see for yourself:

It’s great to see so many people in the MMA media correctly scoring the fight for Griffin, but only 2 people out of 14 gave Griffin a 10-8 first round. Under the new MMA judging scoring criteria, this is just WRONG. At the moment it seems like nobody knows how they should be scoring MMA fights, even the people that make a living working in the industry!

The real question for us, is whether or not Thiago Alves was a bad bet?

When we bet Alves last week his odds were around 2.75 | +175 | 7/4, giving him an Implied Probability of 36%. Based on how well he performed in that second round against Max Griffin, I believe that this was a good bet at those odds. Griffin turned up looking like a completely new fighter and used his range better than we have ever seen before. Alves struggled to make the adjustment in round 1, but by the time he found his range he started to inflict significant damage in round 2. I expected the 1st round to look a lot like the 2nd round, but Griffin made huge improvements since his last fight against Curtis Millender and it appeared to catch Alves off guard.

The biggest thing to remember when evaluating this bet is that we bet on 3 Brazilians for a reason! It is an absolute fact that if you go the distance against a Brazilian, in Brazil, there is a good chance you will get robbed. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say the chances of you getting robbed are AT LEAST 20%. Given that the Implied Probability on Alves was only 36% and given how well he performed in round 2, I believe that he was a great value bet at the odds we got him at.

If ever I research a fight and I see a situation where a Brazilian is fighting a non-Brazilian, in Brazil and I feel like it’s going to be a close fight, if the Brazilian is the underdog, they are an automatic bet for me. On this occasion, we got lucky because Griffin got robbed, but in order to win the game, you have to know the rules…

Anywhere else in the world, I would have passed on that fight, but in Brazil, I felt like Alves was a great bet at decent underdog odds. Please leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about it.

Ultimately one of the main reasons why we bet Alves was home advantage and at the end of the day, home advantage ended up being the difference between a profit and a loss. It’s an ugly win, but I’ll take it. Now let’s see if we can keep it going. I’m working really hard right now to identify good bets for this weekend. I will predominantly be looking to bet Australians because home advantage is also huge Down Under!!!

I love you guys. Thanks again for all your support. ❤️

Fight Betting Tip Pick
Kelvin Gastelum vs Robert Whittaker No bet Whittaker to win
Anderson Silva vs Israel Adesanya No bet Silva to win
Rani Yahya vs Ricky Simon No bet Simon to win
Montana De La Rosa vs Nadia Kassem 3 units on Montana De La Rosa to win at odds of 1.40 | -250 | 3/10 De La Rosa to win
Jim Crute vs Sam Alvey No bet Crute to win
Devonte Smith vs Dong Hyun Kim No bet Smith to win
Austin Arnett vs Shane Young No bet Young to win
Kai Kara-France vs Raulian Paiva No bet Kara-France to win
Kyung Ho Kang vs Teruto Ishihara No bet Kang to win
Marcos Mariano vs Lando Vannata 5 units on Lando Vannata to win at odds of 1.30 | -333 | 3/10 Vannata to win
Callan Potter vs Jalin Turner No bet Turner to win
Jonathan Martinez vs Wuliji Buren No bet Buren to win

Lando Vannata vs Marcos “Dhalsim” Rosa Betting Tip and Prediction

It took me less than 30 minutes of researching UFC 234 to find our first bet for this weekend. I hate to use the term “free money” but Lando Vannata to beat Marcos “Dhalsim” Rosa is about as close to free money as you’re going to get.

Rosa goes by the nickname of Dhalsim, who is a Street Fighter character who can extend his limbs to land strikes on his opponent:

Dhalsim’s ability to fight long does give you a good idea of what Rosa’s fighting style is like. He’s extremely tall for a Lightweight at 6 ft 2, but that size comes at a cost because he appears to lack power in his strikes.

Lando Vannata is an inconsistent fighter and not usually the kind of guy who I would trust with a big pre-fight bet, but even if the very worst version of him shows up at UFC 234, he should still run through Dhalsim. Take a look at a couple of Dhalsim’s recent fights to see for yourself:

As you can see he is nowhere near UFC level. Standing up he’s passive and appears to lack the power in his strikes to hurt his opponents. He also backs up in straight lines, which results in him getting trapped flat-footed against the cage. An explosive, unorthodox striker like Vannata should be able to walk him down, get inside and land bombs. Vannata is the exact kind of guy who will punish Dhalsim for his timidity.

Dhalsim’s striking has a lot of holes, but his grappling deficiencies are much worse. As you can see in his past fights, he basically has no takedown defense and his ground game is not even White Belt level. His previous opponents have taken him down and mounted him in a way that suggests he’s never even taken a Jiu-Jitsu class.

If this fight stays standing, I expect Vannata to apply lots of pressure, walk Dhalsim down and land bombs. If it goes to the ground, I expect Vannata to dominate and get a very quick finish.

Lando Vannata isn’t perfect. He has some significant holes too, but his chin, heart, and toughness are never in question. He always shows up to scrap. He’s a dangerous striker with a base in wrestling and a nasty ground game. He should be able to dominate Dhalsim wherever this fight takes place.

Vannata’s biggest weakness is obviously his cardio, but the beauty of this bet is that Dhalsim is far too passive to test his cardio. Dhalsim is a low output counter striker than simply does not have the style of work rate that would cause Vannata to gas out.

Vannata has walked through killers row since signing for the UFC. He initially made his debut on less than a week’s notice against Tony Ferguson, and since then he has faced David Teymur, Drakkar Klose and Bobby Green. Now it appears that the UFC is finally trying to gift him a win with some very generous matchmaking.

Lando Vannata is currently a big favorite at odds of around 1.30 | -333 | 3/10 and usually I would prefer to parlay someone at those odds into a two-leg accumulator with another fighter. Unfortunately, on this occasion, I don’t think we have time to hesitate. A couple of days ago Vannata’s odds were 1.36 | -278 | 9/25, so they have already declined by 20% in a short space of time. Dhalsim’s past fights were not easy to find, but as more people discover them, I think Vannata’s odds will start to decline more and more.

My research is very time-consuming, so it may take me a while to find a suitable fighter to parlay with Vannata. By the time we find someone his odds may become unplayable, so I would prefer to lock in a bet now and try to take the easy money.

Anything can happen in MMA, but Vannata to beat Dhalsim is one of the safest bets I’ve seen in a long time. A 30% return on our money is an outstanding profit when you consider Dhalsim basically has no path to victory unless something crazy happens. I love this bet!

Reasons for betting on Lando Vannata

  • Dhalsim has very bad takedown defense.
  • Dhalsim’s ground game is extremely low level. You can effortlessly pass his guard into mount.
  • Dhalsim is completely clueless on the ground. He has no idea how to improve his position.
  • Lando Vannata is a strong wrestler with very high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
  • Dhalsim stands tall and long but doesn’t use much head movement. Vannata’s striking is tricky and unorthodox. He should be able to get inside and land hard and clean on Dhalsim.
  • Dhalsim does not deal well with pressure. He backs up in straight lines and gets caught flat footed with his back against the cage.
  • Lando Vannata is a high pressure fighter, who likes to stay in the face of his opponents.
  • Lando Vannata is extremely tough and he has an amazing chin.
  • This is a huge step up in competition for Dhalsim.
  • Vannata does a good job of using unorthodox footwork and head movement to get inside his opponent’s reach.
  • Dhalsim has a very timid, passive fighting style. He doesn’t push a high enough pace to test Vannata’s cardio.
  • This is Dhalsim’s UFC debut.

Risk Factors with betting on Lando Vannata

  • Lando Vannata is reckless.
  • Lando Vannata has questionable cardio and doesn’t do a good enough job of pacing himself.
  • Vannata suffers from depression which he has admitted effects his motivation to fight.
  • Dhalsim has a significant size advantage. He stands at 6 ft 2, while Vannata is just 5 ft 9.

My Betting Tip

Lando Vannata to win

Recommended Stake

5 Units

[5% of your bankroll]

Odds

Decimal = 1.30
Moneyline = -333
Fractional = 3/10

77%

Implied Probability

The bookies believe that Lando Vannata has a 77% chance of beating Marcos “Dhalsim” Rosa based on their current odds.

90%

Our Probability

I believe that Lando Vannata has a 90% chance of beating Marcos “Dhalsim” Rosa based on my extensive research and analysis.

Montana De La Rosa vs Nadia Kassem Betting Tip and Prediction

After spending a couple of hours researching Montana De La Rosa vs Nadia Kassem, I wanted to bet De La Rosa BAD. The problem was, there were a couple of nagging doubts in my mind, and her current Implied Probability is already steep at 71%. It’s one of those fights where the odds are just about where they should be, but at the same time, De La Rosa should be able to win this fight easily.

MMA is an unpredictable sport. In the past few weeks, we saw Ariane Lipski look like a completely different person to how she looked in KSW and just last week Max Griffin showed up with an entirely new set of skills that enabled him to use his reach better than ever before. These kinds of things are impossible to predict, but you do always have to consider the possibility that fighters will have made improvements to their weaknesses. The only way you become Elite at anything in life is from learning from your mistakes and improving on your weaknesses. If a fighter has reached the point where they are competing in the UFC, you can pretty much assume that they will be on a journey of continual improvement. This is the only thing that bothered me about betting on De La Rosa because Nadia Kassem is only 23 years old, and fighters should be making massive improvements at this early stage in their career. We haven’t seen her compete since November 2017, so it’s possible that she has improved a hell of a lot since then.

Once I have decided not to bet on a fighter, I usually move on very quickly, but I haven’t been able to get the De La Rosa bet out of my head. I keep going over and over it, and instead of this feeling like a reluctant pass, it started to feel like a missed opportunity.

Rather than continue to waste brain power arguing with myself in my own head I decided to dig a little deeper to see if I could address my concerns over betting De La Rosa. Maybe I could find some additional information that would either confirm that a pass was the right decision, or perhaps I’d find new information that would make me feel more confident that this was a good bet.

After a short time I stumbled across this interview with Nadia Kassem from a couple of weeks ago:

My main concern over betting De La Rosa was that we hadn’t seen Nadia Kassem compete since November 2017. She’s only 23 years old, and at this stage in her career, she should be making huge improvements from fight to fight. It’s very possible that she had been working really hard over the last 12 months to tighten up the poor takedown defense that almost cost her a win in her UFC debut against Alex Chambers. If she has developed a decent level of takedown defense, she could undoubtedly give De La Rosa some problems, so I was reluctant to bet De La Rosa as a big favorite on the possibility that Kassem has developed new skills.

Her interview from a couple of weeks ago with James Lynch went a long way towards quashing those fears. It turns out that she has been battling some significant injuries over the last 12 months that have prevented her from training. She first dealt with a Bulging Disk back injury which she said she still hasn’t fully recovered from, and then she damaged Tendons in one of her hands after punching a mirror in frustration over not being able to train. She said that she only started to resume training a few months ago, which makes it unlikely that she has made significant improvements since we last saw her against Alex Chambers back in November 2017.

Another one of my concerns was that Kassem is a significantly better striker than De La Rosa. If she can keep this fight standing, she will probably win.

Kassem’s takedown defense is extremely bad. It’s a glaring hole in her game, so I was worried that she had been working hard over the last 12 months to address this weakness. From the information that she gave in her interview with Lynch, it appears unlikely that she has made significant improvements to her takedown defense because all the people she is currently training with also have terrible takedown defense. She said that her main training partners were the Mokhtarian brothers, Alex Gorgees and Amira Hafizovic. Trying to learn how to defend takedowns from those guys is like trying to learn how to drive from a blind guy.

The information that she gave in this interview now makes me feel confident enough to pull the trigger on Montana De La Rosa.

If you go back and watch Kassem’s last fight against Alex Chambers, you’ll see precisely why De La Rosa is a good bet. Kassem has no takedown defense at all.

In contrast, De La Rosa is a strong grappler. She’s a lifelong wrestler with a good level of BJJ. She’s also very heavy from top position and also very active on the ground. She does an excellent job of softening up her opponents with nasty ground and pound while setting them up for complex submissions that an inexperienced grappler like Kassem will not be able to see coming.

What I really love about De La Rosa is her toughness and heart. She was involved in an absolute war with Nicco Montano on the Ultimate Fighter and hung in there to go the distance despite taking a ton of damage and suffering from some nasty cuts. She also has excellent cardio, and at 23 years old she will be making big improvements from fight to fight.

My only real criticism of De La Rosa is that she’s very slow when it comes to striking. She doesn’t move her head that much at all, so she is pretty much a stationary target and very easy to hit. If Kassem can keep this fight standing, she should win, but her takedown defense is so bad that De La Rosa should be able to take her down easily.

At the current odds, I believe there is a bit of value on De La Rosa. She is a much higher level than Kassem on the ground, and 125 female fighters do not carry much power in their hands, so the chances of a flash KO are slim. I believe a 40% return on our money is a good profit considering how massive the skill gap will be if both these girls hit the ground.

Reasons for betting on Montana De La Rosa

  • Nadia Kassem has been out for over 1 year with some significant injuries. She has been recovering from a Bulging Disk back injury that is still causing her problems and she also damaged Tendons in her hand when she punched a mirror in frustration because she could not train properly due to her back injury.
  • Nadia Kassem only started training again after her injuries a few months ago.
  • Nadia Kassem has extremely bad takedown defense and she does not train at a gym that will be able to help her improve this weakness.
  • Montana De La Rosa is a strong wrestler.
  • Montana De La Rosa is heavy from top position.
  • Montana De La Rosa can inflict significant damage with ground and pound. She is vicious when she gets on top of her opponents.
  • Montana De La Rosa uses her nasty ground and pound to setup complex submissions.
  • Montana De La Rosa is only 23 years old, so she should be making big improvements from fight to fight.
  • Montana De La Rosa has excellent cardio.
  • Montana De La Rosa is extremely tough.
  • Nadia Kassem has a very low level ground game.
  • Montana De La Rosa has a slight size advantage over Nadia Kassem.

Risk Factors with betting on Montana De La Rosa

  • Nadia Kassem has home advantage.
  • Nadia Kassem is a significantly better striker than Montana De La Rosa.
  • Nadia Kassem is only 23 years old. She should be making big improvements from fight to fight.
  • Montana De La Rosa’s striking is very slow. She has really bad striking defense.

My Betting Tip

Montana De La Rosa to win

Recommended Stake

3 Units

[3% of your bankroll]

Odds

Decimal = 1.40
Moneyline = -250
Fractional = 2/5

71%

Implied Probability

The bookies believe that Montana De La Rosa has a 71% chance of beating Nadia Kassem based on their current odds.

75%

Our Probability

I believe that Montana De La Rosa has a 75% chance of beating Nadia Kassem based on my extensive research and analysis.

Allsopp
I'm a Professional Gambler from the UK. I specialize in betting on MMA. I've got 1 kid, a Shih Tzu and I've been making money from gambling for around 8 years now.

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