UFC 293 Luck Ratings: ‘The Pleasure Man’ Underrated Down Under (Saturday, September 9)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC light heavyweight “The Pleasure Man” Anton Turkalj of Sweden
Let’s look into some mispriced betting lines for UFC 293, which takes place Saturday in Australia, and see which fighters are overvalued and which are undervalued heading into the Down Under pay-per-view event.
UFC 293: Adesanya vs. Strickland takes place tonight at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The main card is available via ESPN+ PPV (10 p.m. ET) following the preliminary card on ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET) and ESPNews (8 p.m. ET).
One of the first “aha!” moments I had in gambling (generally, not just MMA) was to start thinking about why markets might be wrong rather than just trying to predict what I think will happen.
At its core, that’s what a betting line is: a market where we can “buy” or “sell” events happening. For the most part, these markets are efficient, with the “price” eventually reflecting the true odds of the event.
While this is less true in MMA – where there are far more information asymmetries than in major markets like the NFL or NBA – it’s still broadly (and increasingly) the case. Therefore, to beat the markets over the long term, we need to figure out spots where they’re wrong.
That’s the point of this piece. Inspired by our NFL “Luck Rankings,” I’ll be looking into spots where variance has favored one fighter more than another, causing the line to be inefficient. The biggest input will be split and/or controversial decisions, with short-notice fights, fights that are later overruled, fluke injuries, and out-of-weight-class fights considered, as well.
The focus will be on fights reasonably likely to see the scorecards here, or where one fighter holds most of the finishing upside.
* UFC 293 odds as of Monday and via DraftKings
Israel Adesanya (-600) vs. Sean Strickland (+440)
As is often the case with main events, the market has a pretty good handle on the true abilities of both UFC 293 headliners here.
Outside of his quickly avenged loss to Alex Pereira, champion Israel Adesanya is undefeated at middleweight, with the vast majority of his wins either abundantly clear decisions or finishes.
The lone exception was a split-decision win over Marvin Vettori – more than five years ago. Adensanya "avenged" that close fight with a more convincing five-round win in 2021.
Strickland has been less dominant since moving up to middleweight, but he's still one of the division's best fighters. He's 7-2 at the weight class with a split-decision loss to Jared Cannonier and a knockout defeat to Alex Pereira – who is helping him prepare for Adesanya.
There's a compelling argument he should've beaten Cannonier, though. Strickland landed more significant strikes in four of five rounds, and he landed a takedown in the only round where he didn't outstrike Cannonier.
However, it's unlikely that result has much to do with the line here, though it going the other way likely would've meant this title shot came sooner.
Adensaya is a deserving large favorite here, though I think the line should be a bit tighter. If Strickland chooses to use his excellent grappling, this one could be closer than it appears.
I'll probably be looking more at round "overs" or spread bets on Strickland – something with which we can profit on this fight being closer than expected, but the champion retaining his belt.
Verdict: Sean Strickland undervalued
Tyson Pedro (-105) vs. Anton Turkalj (-115)
This one doesn't fit the usual criteria of what we're looking for in the luck rankings.
At light heavyweight, we see far more finishes than the lighter weight classes. These men have combined for just three decisions in 23 professional fights.
However, one arguably "lucky" element is whom the UFC matches you up with. After a layoff of more than three years, Tyson Pedro returned to action with back-to-back fights against Ike Villanueva and Harry Hunsucker. They have a combined UFC record of 1-8.
Pedro looked great in those fights, but he was defeated soundly by Modestas Bukauskas after that.
On the other hand, "The Pleasure Man" Anton Turkalj is 0-2 in the UFC, but he had two brutal matchups with Jailton Almeida (at a catchweight) and Vitor Petrino. Almeida now looks to be a possible heavyweight title contender while Petrino has finished every opponent in his pro career outside of Turkalj.
Turkalj opened at plus-money, with oddsmakers perhaps underrating his chances in this fight.
This line has been moving already, and it's going to continue to do so, so hop on the Pleasure Man before he moves even further.
Verdict: Anton Turkalj undervalued
Jack Jenkins (-205) vs. Chepe Marsical (+170)
This prelim matchup features two relatively inexperienced fighters in the UFC, with Jack Jankins holding a 2-0 record and Chepe Marsical at 1-0.
Except – and this pains me to admit since I bet on him – Jenkins didn't really win his last fight.
He was gifted a split decision in a fight with which every media member who reports to MMADecisions.com saw the other way, with a roughly even mix of 30-27s and 29-28s against him.
Had that fight been judged appropriately, we'd likely see a pretty different betting line this time around.
On the other hand, Marsical soundly defeated noted wildman Trevor Peek – on short notice and up a weight class, no less – showing himself to be superior in the striking and mixing in plenty of takedowns as well.
I expect this line to tighten up considerably by fight time.
Verdict: Jack Jenkins overvalued
Justin Tafa (-245) vs. Austen Lane (+200)
This bout is a rebooking from June, when an accidental eye-poke from Austen Lane ended the contest a mere 39 seconds into the bout.
We didn't see much action prior to that, with Lane officially landing three strikes and Junior Tafa failing to connect at all.
Curiously, Lane was somewhere between a +150 and +170 underdog at closing time on that fight. The only reason to believe that line should've moved is due to the venue change; the previous fight was in Jacksonville, where Lane played for the Jaguars, and this one is in Tafa's native Australia.
In my opinion, the "home-field advantage" in MMA is mostly a function of judging. With crowds reacting more favorably to small moments from the hometown fighter, judges tend to be swayed.
This is a heavyweight fight between two power punchers, though, and it's unlikely to see the scorecards.
Logically, this line should be closer to where it closed the first time around – making Lane undervalued.