Author Archives: oleg

UFC 239 Preview

27 Jun , 2019,
oleg
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It’s been almost a year since I’ve done a UFC event preview blog. We are now halfway through 2019 – which will be remembered in MMA history as the start of the UFC & ESPN partnership – and quickly coming up on what is shaping up to be the biggest card of the year so far, assuming all the fighters make it to the opening bell without suffering injuries, failing USADA tests, or any other mishaps.

As UFC 239 approaches, the odds for the two champions on the card, Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes, are getting longer. Jones opened as roughly a -900 favorite against the aging Thiago Santos, but is now closer to -650. Nunes’ dip is less pronounced, going from about -375 to -330 in her bout with dangerous striker Holly Holm. Once fight night rolls round and you want to know a trusted source based on first-hand experiences for UFC betting, look no further than my top sportsbooks lists of sites which are given ratings from users and editors.

The appetizer to the main events, Ben Askren, has seen his odds improve. Initially a -215 favorite against Jorge Masvidal, Askren’s been bet up to -350. Bettors likely see Masvidal, who was taken down four times by Demian Maia, having a huge problem staying off the mat against Askren’s Olympic-level wrestling.

With all that in mind, here is a brief preview of the UFC 239 main card:

(C) [#1 LHW] Jon Jones vs [#6 LHW] Thiago Santos for the UFC Light Heavyweight title

While Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is unarguably one of, if not the greatest fighter in the history of the sport, he is just as unarguably one of the most controversial. Whatever trouble Jones manages to get himself into seems to always roll off him like water off a duck’s back – whether it be PED failures, lawsuits or running afoul of the law, he comes out of every scandal virtually unscathed – only to soon become entangled again in a new set of shenanigans.  While his troubles have not been an overall significant detriment to his career, they forced him to take an occasional break from action. Because of this Jones has only fought once a year dating back to 2014.  This trend has now been turned around, as he will be defending his title for the second time this year and taking his third fight overall in seven months since regaining the title in a rematch with Alexander Gustaffson at the end of 2018.

Jon’s slated opponent Thiago “Marreta” Santos,  much like his previous opponent Anthony Smith, started out his UFC career as a middleweight and had a somewhat spotty record prior to moving up to 205 lbs and winning three in a row before getting a shot at Jones. There, the similarities end.  While Anthony Smith is a well rounded fighter who is equally adept at taking his opponents out with strikes as he is at making them tap out, the Brazilian Hammer Santos focuses almost exclusively on destroying his opposition with a wide array of strikes thrown with the most damaging intentions. And while Smith was very passive and almost timid in his fight with Jones, which allowed Jon to effectively neutralize Anthony and cruise to a one-sided decision, I don’t feel that Santos will change his ultra-aggressive style for anyone. Unfortunately for Thiago, his aggression may very well play right into Jon’s hand. Marreta’s path to victory is clear: throw everything including the kitchen sink at Bones in hopes of dealing concussive damage. The longer this fight goes on, the less likely are the odds that Santos lands a knockout strike. And I just can’t pick someone whose best chance is a striker’s chance, to beat Jon Jones. Nor have I seen the type of takedown defense or ground skill from Santos that would allow him to survive until the final bell without Bones choking him out or destroying his face with brutal elbows from the top position as he’s done to many of his past opponents.

The real burning question headed into this fight is how many picograms of Turinabol will show up in Jon’s bloodstream this time around. I wonder if there are any sportsbooks taking prop bets on this action.

Prediction: Jon Jones by submission or TKO (ground and pound).

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Cowboy Cerrone continues to shatter UFC records

12 Jun , 2019,
oleg
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Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has been competing as a professional MMA fighter for over 20 years, and in the UFC Octagon since 2011. While he’s never held a UFC belt (not even an interim one), coming up short in his only title shot against then lightweight king Raphael dos Anjos in 2015, Cerrone has remained among the MMA elite for his entire career. He has consistently been ranked in the Top 20 fighters in the world at lightweight or welterweight since his third UFC fight, a first round stoppage over Charles Oliveira, and has reached as high as #2 at 155 lbs and #5 at 170. He is also the winningest and the most active fighter in UFC history.

Last year, we published an article musing on who will be the first UFC fighter to achieve 30 fights in the promotion, and did a follow-up piece a few months later. Since then, Cowboy went from 27 UFC bouts at the time of the first article, to the current record of 32. So despite a disappointing loss to Tony Ferguson at UFC 238, Cerrone remains a legend of the Octagon and a future lock for the UFC hall of fame.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at Donald’s accomplishments (striking statistics courtesy of UFCStats.com).

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Boxing vs MMA: When Worlds Collide

20 Feb , 2019,
oleg
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Through the ages, long before the term ‘Mixed Martial Arts’ has ever been uttered or even conceived, the practitioners and spectators of various martial arts and combat sports have asked the question: which art is the most effective of them all? And the beginnings of modern MMA were intended to precisely answer that question (and the answer, at least around the time of early UFCs, was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). Of course the days of “style vs style” are long behind us, and today to be a successful mixed martial artist, one needs to have a diverse skill set that borrows from a plethora of martial arts and styles. However we still experience an occasional cross-over matchup between practitioners of different arts. In this article, I will examine some of the most notable cross-overs between mixed martial arts and boxing.

Conventional wisdom dictates a significant “home court” advantage in a style-vs-style matchup: if a boxer faces a mixed martial artist in a ring under boxing rules, the boxer is a lot more likely to win than if the bout took place under MMA rule set – and vice versa. Betting odds reflect this, and so do most of the past fight outcomes. So if you’re a gambler, you could place a large, relatively safe bet for a comparatively small payoff on the odds favorite. Or you could take a big risk with a small bet on the underdog, in hopes of a big payoff if your prediction comes true.  Either way, next time your favorite MMA star steps into the boxing ring, you can get some help from the UK’s betting sites.

Art Jimmerson vs Royce Gracie

While this can’t be exactly be called a “boxing vs MMA” matchup – since MMA did not exist yet, and Royce Gracie represented BJJ in the first UFC – we have to start at the beginning. The very beginning might technically be Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki, but UFC 1 is usually a good starting point for anything MMA-related. Of course the first UFC was organized and promoted by the Gracie family as a means of letting the world know about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and to show that GJJ/BJJ was the supreme martial art. To this end, rumor has it that UFC 1 competitors were not truly the best of the best at their individual sports, to assure an easier path to victory for Royce. Art Jimmerson is a good example of this – while he had a respectable boxing record of 29-5 prior to his fight with Gracie, Jimmerson did not earn many accolades in the boxing world. He also went 4-13 upon returning to the right after his brief UFC stint, indicating that he may have already been past his prime when he faced Gracie. Regardless, Art clearly had no clue of what he was getting himself into – of course, neither did most other UFC 1 contestants. Inexplicably, Jimmerson showed up to his one and only match in the Octagon wearing a single boxing glove, and was quickly taken down and mounted by Gracie. Trapped on his back with no idea how to escape the position, Jimmerson panicked and tapped out rather than absorb needless punishment. And thus began the legend of Royce Gracie.

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UFC in 2019: A Brief Preview

14 Jan , 2019,
oleg
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Two years have passed since Zuffa – the former owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who were instrumental in bringing UFC and the sport of MMA as a whole to it’s current state – have sold the company and turned the reigns over to the new owners, WME-IMG. While the new ownership kept the long time President Dana White at the helm, many things have changed under the WME banner: the match makers and overall approach to match-making, the broadcast team, expansion of women’s weight classes, and of course the ever-changing stream of champions – regular, interim, multiple-weight-division, disputed and undisputed. The highlights of 2018 included Khabib Nurmagomedov defeating Conor McGregor in the highest-selling Pay-Per-View (PPV) event in UFC history, Daniel Cormier winning and defending the heavyweight title while simultaneously holding the light-heavyweight belt, and Amanda Nunes ending Cris Cyborg’s 13-year undefeated streak  and becoming the first woman to earn the “champ-champ” accolade. But there is a flip side to every coin: Khabib’s win was followed by a near-brawl between the fighters’ corners, resulting in a yet-to-be determined punishment for the lightweight champ, which does not help clean up the already confusing title picture at 155 lbs. Cormier was forced to give up his light-heavyweight title to pave way for the return of his nemesis Jon ‘Bones’ Jones – which turned into a huge fiasco due to Jon’s continued inability to pass a PED test, and the UFC’s willingness to sweep it all under the rug. Nunes’ win (or more precisely, Cyborg’s loss) raised serious questions about the viability of women’s featherweight division. And I haven’t even mentioned the first ever fighter trade between major MMA organizations, as UFC released Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson to fight for Singapore-based ONE Championship promotion, in return for acquiring the services of welterweight wrestling prodigy Ben Askren.

The only thing that remains constant in the world of MMA is the inevitability of change. This may be mostly due to it still being a relatively new sport which is trying to establish it’s long-term identity. The behind-the-scenes turmoil only adds to unpredictability of what is already an inherently unpredictable sport in terms of fight outcomes: the fact that there are so many ways to win a mixed martial arts bout makes it significantly more likely to see unexpected outcomes in MMA than boxing, or any other combat sport with a more restrictive rule set. And don’t even get me started on MMA judging: if a relatively close bout goes the distance, you might as well flip a coin to predict the judges’ decision. This makes MMA a tricky sport to bet on; however it also makes the reward sweeter when you do get it right. It also makes watching the fights that much more exciting when you have something riding on the outcome. So if you think that you can predict the winner of the next big fight and are willing to put your money where your mouth is, there are many resources available to place a bet online. With all that in mind, here are some of my thoughts on what 2019 will hold for the UFC.

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Links & Websites which mention FightMatrix.com

28 Aug , 2018,
oleg
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We’ve recently had to shut down our forum for technical reasons.  While the forum wasn’t exactly a budding MMA community – with closed registration and maybe at best a handful of active users – it did have one thread which I would like to have preserved and kept going. The thread was titled something like “Websites that mention Fightmatrix rankings” and if I remember correctly, was started by our long time contributor Ked Becker. And the purpose of the thread was self-explanatory: to list all websites and other media sources which mention FightMatrix.com.

I’ve created a ‘Links & Mentions‘ page, which we will be using for outbound links to our friends and affiliates, and other major websites in the MMA & combat sports communities. I will also be using the comments section of the page to link or mention every website, podcast, etc. which make a reference to FightMatrix rankings, and I invite our readers to do the same.

If you have an MMA or other related website that you feel should be include in this new Links page, please mention it in the comments or use the Contact Us form.

UFC: Seven under 30 – Update

23 Aug , 2018,
oleg
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Some time back, we published an article speculating on who will be the first UFC fighter to reach 30 bouts in the Octagon.

Almost six month later, some of the fighters on this list added to their tally, while others retired or left the promotion. Let’s take a look at who is now the most likely to reach this record first – and the seven has dwindled down to 5 active fighters.

But first, a few notes:

  1. While for most purposes we ignore No Contests (i.e. treat them as if the fight never happened), for the purpose of this record they are considered as valid fights. Once the Octagon doors close and the referee signals the start of action, it’s a fight – no matter if it’s eventually ruled a No Contest. This gives a one-up to Jim Miller.
  2. ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house fights – generally termed “pro-exhibition bouts” are not counted. If they were included, TUF alumni Diego Sanchez and Michael Bisping would have three and two additional fights each, respectively.
  3. Though Tito Ortiz and Frank Mir both have 27 UFC bouts, they are not included in this list as the probability of either fighting in the UFC again – let alone three more times – is infinitesimally small.
  4. The ‘Average Fights Per Year’ calculation does not include any fights which took place in 2018. The year of fighter’s UFC debut is included in the calculation only if the fighter fought two or more times in their first calendar year; any fights in other promotions in the same year but prior to the fighter’s UFC debut are not included.

Next, the dropouts since the last article:

[#NR MW] Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping has officially announced his retirement from MMA in May 2018, sharing the current record with 29 UFC fights.

[#237 LW]  Gleison Tibau
Gleison Tibau has been released from UFC after losing a decision to Desmond Green at Fight Night 131. He shares the record for second place with 28 UFC fights.

That said, here are our remaining five, listed in the order of likelihood that they will reach the magic number 30 first:

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Disqus Comment System and Forum

14 Aug , 2018,
oleg
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2018 is a year of changes for us here at FightMatrix, and one change that most readers probably haven’t noticed (since there were only a handful of active forum users) is the disappearance of our forum.

We had to disable new user registration many months ago for technical reasons, and we now feel that the forum has outlived it’s usefulness. We also recently installed the Disqus comment and community system, so please leave us comments on our blog posts and pages! And if it’s a private matter, you can always contact us here.

ELO Is Here

13 Aug , 2018,
oleg
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As we’ve been promising for a while, the ELO and Modified ELO versions of our rankings are now publicly available!

You can read more about it here: ELO Sneak Peeks and here: Elo Rating Updates

The alternative versions of our rankings are presently only available in the current MMA ranking lists (excluding Pound-for-Pound and Division Dominance). They are not available in historical generated rankings or all-time rankings.

Also, the last/next fight, region & country, and other ranking filters are only available in standard mode. Perhaps we may support these filters in the future for the alternate ranking systems.

To view the alternate rankings, navigate to any current ranking page and select ‘ELO K-170’ or ‘Modified ELO’ in the Rating formula drop-down under the Issue Date on the top of the ranking pages.

Here’s an example of alternate heavyweight rankings:

Standard FightMatrix (CIRRS) Ranking Formula

ELO K-170 Ranking Formula

Modified ELO Ranking Formula

New Comment System

Aug , 2018,
oleg
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Dear Readers,

As you may or may have not noticed, we’ve switched to Disqus as our new comment system. This is just one of many incremental updates we have planned this year, to improve the user’s (Your’s!) experience. Coming up next, ELO and Modified ELO ranking systems preview, and a forum redesign.

In the meanwhile, since the forum registration is closed, if you’re having any trouble with using the new comment system, please let us know via the Contact Us form.

As always – thank you for the continued support!

UFC on Fox 30: Preview & Predictions

21 Jul , 2018,
oleg
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It’s more than half way through 2018,  and the UFC’s broadcast partnership with Fox network is quickly coming to an end. One could say that it was a rocky ride, and with UFC asking for more money while the TV ratings are steadily declining, continuing the relationship was not a winning proposition for Fox. And so in 2019, UFC will be moving on to ESPN as their new broadcast painter, while Fox will be picking up WWE for their brand of sports entertainment. So the UFC on Fox 30 will be one of, if not the last UFC event broadcast on ‘Big Fox’. To commemorate the approaching end of an era, I’ll do something I haven’t done in a while: a preview & predictions for the four fights on the main card.

[#1 LW] Eddie Alvarez vs [#5 LW] Dustin Poirier 

Dustin Poirier is a -165 (3/5) favorite over Eddie Alvarez (+135; 4/3) in their rematch at UFC of Fox 30. This is tightly contested rematch and you can see which sports book offers the best odds before betting on this UFC Calgary event; take a look at the sportsbooks which are reviewed on mytopsportsbooks.com. While Alvarez is a former lightweight champ with a longer reach and better wrestling pedigree, Poirier was winning the first fight before illegal knees from Alvarez resulted in a no contest. Poirier had landed almost twice as many significant strikes through the first nine minutes (73-44) and was getting the better of the exchanges both in the clinch and from distance. The 29-year-old Poirier was also able to stifle three of four takedown attempts from the 34-year-old Alvarez.

Despite the betting odds and what the statistics of the first fight show, I’m going to go with the higher ranked fighter in Eddie Alvarez, mainly because I have more confidence in his durability and gas tank. Porrier has never seen a fifth round in his career, while Alvarez has had a couple of five rounders go the distance. Both men were knocked out by Conor McGregor; Porrier has also been stopped by Michael Johnson in 2016, while Eddie’s only T/KO loss besides McGregor was back in 2007. Porrier doesn’t have McGregor’s level of KO power and Alvarez was able to absorb plenty of punishment in their first meeting. And it seems unlikely that either man will be able to submit the other; so unless Dustin somehow manages to land a fight-ending bomb early, I see Alvarez weathering the storm and taking over later in the fight, eventually finishing Porrier in rounds four or five.

Prediction: Eddie Alvarez by TKO.

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