UFC Nashville Luck Ratings: 5 Undervalued Fighters for Music City Fight Card (Saturday, August 5)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC light heavyweight Tanner Boser of Canada
Let’s look into some mispriced betting odds for UFC Nashville on Saturday and see which fighters are overvalued and which are undervalued heading into the ESPN-televised event.
UFC Nashville: Sandhagen vs. Font takes place at Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee with a somewhat-small 12-fight card. The UFC Nashville prelims starts at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) and the main card at 9 p.m. ET. The entire event broadcasts on ESPN with a simulcast 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 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.
Cory Sandhagen (-300) vs. Rob Font (+240)
This event was originally headlined by Cory Sandhagen taking on Umar Nurmagomedov, an undefeated bantamweight prospect whom many have pegged as a future champion. Unfortunately, Nurmagomedov had to pull out from the event, leaving us with Rob Font instead.
While this is a solid fight considering the circumstances, Font is a 36-year-old who's likely already had his best days in the UFC octagon.
To make matters even more difficult, he was originally slated to fight two weeks from now at UFC 292 before getting a new opponent and a new fight date against Sandhagen.
Bringing the heat to #UFCNashville 🔥
Cory Sandhagen and Rob Font in the top spot this Saturday! pic.twitter.com/lljRH2h5mT
— UFC (@ufc) July 31, 2023
Sandhagen's most recent win was a split decision over Marlon Vera, but it was a clear Sandhagen win that one judge dropped the ball on. He also has a much closer split decision loss to T.J. Dillashaw that would arguably go his way if judged again today due to the prioritization of damage over control. If anything, Sandhagen is a bit better than his record.
Font has somehow managed to have 15 UFC fights without a single split or majority decision, and no real "extenuating circumstance" fights either.
All things considered, I'd expect the line to trickle Sandhagen's way as we approach the opening bell, but it's more or less in the right spot now.
Verdict: Fairly valued
Tanner Boser (-170) vs. Aleksa Camur (+145)
I'm glad to see Tanner Boser getting another chance in the UFC, despite his 1-4 record across his last five bouts. Two of those were split decision losses, and he also had a unanimous-decision loss to Andrei Arlovski in which Boser doubled up Arlovski on significant strikes.
Boser dropped from heavyweight to light heavyweight in his most recent outing, but he was given a tough test in Ion Cutelaba. While he failed that test violently, I think Boser will have more success at 205 pounds broadly speaking.
He's also been given a much easier opponent this time in Aleksa Camur, who sports a 1-2 UFC record and hasn't fought in more than two years.
While Camur's last loss was a split decision, those are still some concerning signs.
This is a bit more juice than I like paying on a fighter with Boser's track record, but I think it's more than justified here. Boser been one of the unluckiest UFC fighters in recent years, and he should be better at his new weight class.
I don't think there's any rush on betting him here – people aren't exactly rushing to get their Boser tickets in – but he's a solid value at his current price.
Verdict: Tanner Boser undervalued
Ignacio Bahamondes (-210) vs. Ludovit Klein (+175)
Ignacio Bahamondes dropped his UFC debut by split decision, but he has since rattled off three consecutive victories.
Those victories include a third-round knockout, a third-round submission, and a fairly dominant unanimous decision in his most recent outing.
On the other hand, Ludovit Klein is 3-2-1 in the UFC with one of those wins coming via split decision. His draw was also essentially a loss except his opponent was docked a point for a low blow in the third round.
With Bahamondes already favored heavily, there's a case to be made that those factors are already baked into the price. I'm convinced he'd be a heavier favorite if Klein were coming off a loss, which makes Bahamondes undervalued.
I also suspect the -200 we can get at BetMGM on Tuesday won't be there for long, so it wouldn't hurt to get the bet in now.
Verdict: Ignacio Bahamondes undervalued
Jeremiah Wells (-130) vs. Carlston Harris (+110)
This is an interesting fight from a "luck" standpoint. On the one hand, Jeremiah Wells is coming off of a split-decision win that some thought should have gone the other way.
It wasn't a typical split decision, though, with little action making judging difficult. Rather, Wells was dropped in the opening moments of each of the first two rounds before finding a takedown and dominating from there.
By record he's 4-0 in the UFC, though, with his other three victories all coming in the opening six minutes. Wells has never lost a three-round fight or been finished in his career, with both professional losses coming via five-round decisions.
Carlston Harris is 3-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming against the seemingly unstoppable Shavkat Rakhmonov. However, his three wins all came against much lesser competition. Two of those fighters have been since cut from the promotion, and the other is 1-4 in the UFC.
Harris also needed a full 15 minutes against Jared Gooden in a short-notice fight for Gooden, which isn't a great sign for Harris. On the other hand, his ability to rack up takedowns and fight well for 15 minutes is at least a nod to his cardio.
I could see an argument for playing this one as "Wells early, Harris late" once the applicable props are available, but I'm likely sticking with the Wells moneyline. Wells is the better overall fighter, and his third-round dominance of Matthew Semelsberger in his lone UFC decision eases concerns about his cardio.
Verdict: Jeremiah Wells undervalued
Asu Almabaev (-180) vs. Ode Osborne (+155)
It seems like nearly every week we have a UFC debutante from Central Asia with a stacked record and sky-high expectations. This week it's Asu Almabaev, who comes to us from Kazakhstan with a 17-2 record.
It's a pretty padded record, though, with his last fight coming against a 3-1 fighter despite his 16-2 record at the time.
Prior to that, he won a split decision over an opponent who was 21-10 coming in. (The 21-10 fighter is former Bellator champion Zach Makovsky, but Machovsky was 40 at the time and more than seven years removed from his last appearance in a major promotion.)
It continues like that through most of his career, with the broad point being that he hasn't fought anyone we can confidently deem as tough competition.
Until now, when he takes on Ode Osborne. Osborne is 4-3 in the UFC, though he should probably be 3-4 considering his controversial split-decision win over Charles Johnson.
Still, Osborne's definitively "UFC level" whatever that means these days. We can't say the same about Almabaev, and at plus money, it's a bet I'm willing to take.
We can probably wait, though, as the line has trickled toward Almabaev since opening.