UFC Vegas 71 Luck Ratings: The Undervalued Fighters to Consider Betting Now (Saturday, April 22)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Jeremiah Wells
Let’s look into some mispriced betting lines for UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes on Saturday and see which fighters are overvalued and which are undervalued heading into the ESPN+ event.
UFC Vegas 71 takes place at the UFC Apex Center in Las Vegas. The full event airs on ESPN+ beginning at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT), with the main card portion commencing at 7 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 Vegas 71 odds via FanDuel and as of Friday
Curtis Blaydes (-170) vs. Sergei Pavlovich (+138)
This is another fight that I wouldn’t pay much attention to for the purpose of Luck Ratings were it not a main event.
Heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich is 5-1 in the UFC, with all of his fights ending in the first round. The only potential “lucky” moment in any of those was the stoppage in his win over Derrick Lewis. It was definitely on the quick side, though Pavlovich was very likely to end things more decisively in short order.
Curtis Blaydes is 12-3-1 in the UFC, with a 5-0 record in decisions. Not a single one of those was via split, though, and his dominant wrestling means they were all fairly clear victories. His only losses were to top-level strikers: Francis Ngannou (twice) and Lewis. No shame in any of those.
If I had to pick a lean, it’s that Pavlovich is the undervalued one here. He has a similar skill set to Lewis and Ngannou, and he has a win over a fighter who beat Blaydes (Though Blaydes has a win over Alastair Overeem – who beat Pavlovich.)
Point is, it’s a thin angle either way. We’ll have plenty of betting coverage on this fight throughout the week, so don’t rush to put your money down just yet.
Verdict: Fairly Valued
Brad Tavares (-168) vs. Bruno Silva (+136)
This fight has been elevated to the co-main event, with Song Yadong and Ricky Simon rebooked as a late-replacement main event for next week’s UFC event.
Brad Tavares made his UFC debut way back in 2010, picking up a 14-7 record along the way. Twelve of those wins were via decision, with just two knockouts. He’s 3-0 in split decisions, including his most recent win in 2021 over Omari Akhmedov. While the two judges on his side got it correct in my eyes, it still speaks to his style. He’s primarily a striker, but he lacks the big power or overwhelming volume to win rounds decisively.
Bruno Silva fought on TUF Brazil way back in 2014 as a heavyweight, but he made his official UFC debut in 2021. He picked up three straight knockout victories before being sacrificed to Alex Pereira in a showcase fight for the former champion. Following that, he had a very poor performance against Gerald Meerschaert, losing via submission in the third round.
Were it not for that last result, Silva would likely be a significant favorite here. He looked off in that fight, with cardio issues and wide, winging punches. While I have no evidence of any injuries or extenuating circumstances, I’m willing to overlook one bad performance given the entirety of his UFC resume.
Additionally, Tavares is the type of fighter who’s extremely hard to bet as a favorite. A closely contested decision is essentially his ceiling outcome at this point in his career. Anytime we have a close fight, I want to be holding the plus-money ticket when the judges’ cards are read.
Verdict: Silva Undervalued
Bobby Green (-250) vs. Jared Gordon (+198)
Jared Gordon is 7-5 in the UFC with a 6-1 record in decisions. However, that decision loss is a big one for the purpose of this piece. It came against Paddy Pimblett in a fight that Gordon pretty clearly won according to, well, anyone who watched it. I suspect that Gordon would still be an underdog here had the judges gotten that one right, but probably not to the extent that he is now.
Outside of the Pimblett fight, Gordon has one split decision win and a 1-3 record in fights that end inside the distance.
On the Bobby Green side, 14 of his 20 UFC fights have gone to a decision, with a 7-6-1 record on the judges’ scorecards. He has a perfectly balanced 1-1-1 record in split decisions, and 3-3 record in fights ended by stoppage.
Green has fought a higher level of competition and is the deserving favorite. Even so, it’s hard not to think this line would be considerably closer had the judges not robbed Gordon of his win in the Pimblett fight. Especially compared to the +225 odds on him currently posted at Caesars.
Verdict: Gordon Undervalued
Jeremiah Wells (-110) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (-110)
I was fairly surprised to see this fight lined as essentially a pick’em, with Jeremiah Wells being the clearly better fighter in my eyes. The Renzo Gracie product is 3-0 in the UFC and has finished all of his fights by the 30-second mark of the second round. He’s never been finished in his professional career despite fighting a high level of competition prior to his UFC run as the CFFC welterweight champion.
Matthew Semelsberger is 5-3 in the UFC with two knockouts and a 3-2 record in decisions. He’s been finished twice in his pro career – one submission and one knockout.
Semelsberger is a good athlete, but Wells is the better fighter in every skill. I’d have Wells as a moderate favorite here if I were setting the lines. Given Wells’ finishing upside and durability, I’m also interested in his “finish only” prop line when those are available later in the week.
Verdict: Wells Undervalued
Norma Dumont (-115) vs. Karol Rosa (-105)
Both women bring similar UFC records into this one, with Norma Dumon at 4-2 and Karol Rosa 5-1. They each have one split-decision win, though Rosa also has a majority-decision win, and Dumont has a split-decision loss. That’s a slight bump to Dumont, but not enough to be considered in its own right. Remarkably, neither has ever won a UFC fight by stoppage.
However, all of Rosa’s previous UFC fights were at 135 pounds, but she’s stepping up to 145 for this one. That’s where Dumont has had five of her six UFC fights – and she missed weight badly in her lone attempt at going down a weight class. Rosa wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire at 135 either. Her last two fights were against women in their 40s, with a loss and a majority-decision win.
One could argue that Rosa might be better without having to cut as much weight, but that outcome tends to be the exception, not the rule. She needs to prove she can hang with the larger fighters before I put any money on her side of things.
This one’s already corrected considerably, with Dumont opening in the +120 range throughout the industry. She’s still a value at her current price, but don’t expect it to last long.
Verdict: Dumont Undervalued
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