UFC London Luck Ratings: The Undervalued Fighters to Bet Now (Saturday, July 22)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC featherweight Josh Culibao of Australia
Let’s look into some mispriced betting lines for UFC London on Saturday afternoon and see which fighters are overvalued and undervalued heading into the 15-fight event on ESPN+.
UFC London marks the promotion's return to The O2 Arena, which also hosted UFC 286 in March. While this UFC London isn't a pay-per-view card, we still have some bigger names than on the typical ESPN+ fight night at the smaller UFC Apex facility.
UFC London starts on Saturday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT). The nine-bout preliminary card (noon ET) and six-bout main card (3 p.m. ET) both stream entirely on ESPN+.
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 in which 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 Ratings,” 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.
* Odds as of Wednesday and via FanDuel
Tom Aspinall (-500) vs. Marcin Tybura (+340)
This will be the first fight for Tom Aspinall in just under a year as he makes his return in the same place where he injured his knee 364 days ago. Prior to that injury, Aspinall was on a dominant 5-0 run with all finishes in the first two rounds, and being talked about as the next heavyweight title challenger.
I'm of two minds regarding the injury in his last fight. On the one hand, Aspinall didn't really "lose" that fight by being beaten by his opponent. On the other hand, this week's fight is a fairly quick turnaround given the severity of the injury, and it's likely he's still somewhat short of 100%. That's important for a fighter like Aspinall, who relies on movement and athleticism more than most heavyweights.
Of course, the current line seems to be considering the former point, while mostly disregarding the latter. Given that we're evaluating everything relative to the betting lines, that's a strike against Aspinall.
Marcin Tybura has 17 fights in the UFC with a solid 11-6 record. He's 7-3 in decisions with all but one of those unanimous. The outlier was a very controversial majority decision win over Alexandr Romanov that I believe should've been a draw.
Still, Tybura is an upper-tier heavyweight who's been healthy and active in recent months. Aspinall is the deserving favorite, but the line should be a bit closer to account for his knee injury.
Verdict: Aspinall overvalued
Nathaniel Wood (-210) vs. Andre Fili (+162)
In their effort to create more European stars, the UFC has brought Nathaniel Wood along fairly slowly. He's a quiet 6-2 in the promotion, but none of those wins has come against especially difficult opponents. He's won all six of his bouts definitively, though, with three submissions and three unanimous decisions.
Which makes the fight against Andre Fili – Tapology's 20th-ranked featherweight – a bit of a step up in competition, at least on paper. Fili is 10-8-1 in the UFC, and he's coming off a win over Bill Algeo.
However, Fili is just 2-3-1 over his last six bouts, with both of his wins coming via split decision. His losses have been clearer, with a stoppage and a pair of unanimous decisions. It's been since 2019 since he won a bout by anything other than a split.
Additionally, the UFC matchmaking is known to try to create as many hometown winners as possible when traveling abroad, which is another sign for "The Prospect." While he's losing the nickname battle against Andre "Touchy" Fili, I expect Wood to win the fight, and likely close as a greater favorite.
Verdict: Wood undervalued
Lerone Murphy (-162) vs. Josh Culibao (+126)
As with nearly every fight on this card, we have a favo(u)red fighter from the U.K. taking on an underdog from elsewhere in the world. This one is reasonably close, though, with Lerone Murphy only a moderate favorite.
Murphy is undefeated in the UFC, though his UFC debut was a split draw against Zubaira Tukhugov. After watching the fight back, I tend to agree with the judge who ruled it 28-28, but each fighter had one of the other judges side with him. Murphy also won a split decision in his last fight, though while close I believe justice was served there as well.
Josh Culibao is 3-1-1 in the UFC, though his lone loss came up a weight class against Jalin Turner on short notice. Turner is so big he's struggled to make lightweight, so I'm not holding that against Culibao.
Like Murphy, Culibao also has a draw on his record, in which he relied on a 10-8 round to counterbalance losing two others. I have no problem with that ruling either.
Long story short, these men are extremely evenly matched when just looking at their records. I'll be waiting to do some further tape study before pulling the trigger, but getting plus-money on either side of this one feels like a solid value.
Verdict: Culibao undervalued
Daniel Marcos (-148) vs. Davey Grant (+116)
This time we have an underdog U.K. fighter, which says a lot given how the UFC tends to matchmake the O2 cards. Davey Grant is the hometown fighter, but he's seen his odds rise from roughly a pick'em at open to +116 at FanDuel on Monday.
Grant is a 37-year-old bantamweight with a 2-2 record over the last two years. His wins were against relatively soft competition in Louis Smolka and 40-year-old Raphael Assuncao. To Grant's credit, he finished both of those fights, but it's still not especially impressive.
Daniel Marcos is a 14-0 Peruvian prospect who picked up a knockout win in his UFC debut, which followed a fairly dominant Contender Series performance. He's also seven years younger, which is crucial for this bantamweight bout where speed and reaction time tend to be at a premium.
There's also always a risk with fighters of a certain age that they've hit the proverbial wall – and Grant is firmly in that category.
While I'd like to study up on Marcos a bit more before making a bet, the early line movement is enough of a signal that I'd rather jump on the line early. The best odds on Marcos on Monday are at be365, where he's -138 (and falling).
Verdict: Marcos undervalued
Chris Duncan (-160) vs. Yanal Ashmouz (+124)
This will be the second UFC octagon appearance for these lightweights, with both of them making their debut at The O2 Arena back at UFC 286.
That night, Chris Duncan picked up a split decision victory over Omar Morales – the third loss in a row for Morales – while Yanal Ashmouz picked up a knockout victory over Sam Patterson, who was also a UFC debutant.
While the strength of schedule there was fairly even, the results were not. Ashmouz was dominant for as long as the fight lasted, taking down Patterson despite being a significant underdog.
Duncan also has the only loss between the pair, getting knocked out by Viacheslav Borschev in his first crack at the Contender Series.
All of which is to say, I'm not surprised the line is as close as it is, but I'm surprised which fighter is favored. Ashmouz is as high as +130 on BetMGM, but I don't think there's much of a rush. Prelim fights on a non-PPV event are unlikely to draw enough early action to move significantly, so I'll be waiting until I can do some tape study before locking in a bet.