UFC Vegas 78 Luck Ratings: 4 Undervalued Fighters Worth a Bet (Saturday, August 12)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC featherweight Hakeem Dawodu of Canada
Let’s look into some mispriced betting odds for Saturday's UFC Vegas 78 event on ESPN and see which fighters are overvalued and undervalued heading into the event.
UFC Vegas 78: Luque vs. dos Anjos takes place today at the UFC Apex center in Las Vegas with a 13-bout fight card. The prelims start at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) and the main card kicks off at 7 p.m. ET. The entire event airs on ESPN with a simulcast on ESPN+.
The UFC Vegas 78 main event features former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos vs. top-10 welterweight contender Vicente Luque in a five-round 170-pound clash.
It's one of the UFC Vegas 78 bouts featured this week in the UFC Vegas 78 Luck Ratings.
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.
Rafael Dos Anjos (-125) vs Vicente Luque (-102)
Former champ Rafael dos Anjos is one of the longest-tenured fighters in the UFC with a 33-fight run that stretches back to 2008. With that in mind, it's a bit silly to go through all of his bouts, as most of them have no bearing on how betting markets view him coming into this week.
RDA has won three of his past four, including a stoppage victory over Bryan Barberena in his most recent fight. One of those was a split-decision victory over Paul Felder in 2020, but outside of that, he's had fairly definitive results. The former lightweight champion is 38, though, and is certainly on the downswing of his career.
Luque is still just 31 despite his already-impressive UFC record of 14-5. He's coming off consecutive losses to Belal Muhammad and Geoff Neal, but prior to that, he had a four-fight winning – and stoppage – streak. Like dos Anjos, he's had a fairly clean record of definitive results, with the lone exception a split-decision win over Mike Perry in 2019.
As such, there isn't much "luck" on either fighter's record, though it's perhaps notable that dos Anjos did much of his best work in a lighter weight class. However, BetMGM has a +110 line on Luque as of Monday, which is probably worth taking based on the discrepancy with the rest of the market,
Verdict: Vicente Luque undervalued (BetMGM only)
Khalil Rountree (-225) vs Chris Daukaus (+172)
I'm almost always a fan of heavyweight fighters dropping to 205 pounds. Except for the biggest and best of the division – many of whom cut weight to make 265 pounds – most UFC heavyweights are just 205ers who took a few extra cheat days.
That list includes Chris Daukaus, who will be making his light-heavyweight debut on Saturday.
After a 4-0 start with four knockouts, Daukaus dropped three consecutive bouts before deciding to make the weight cut down to light heavyweight. Those came to Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik – three much larger KO artists.
While Rountree certainly has power in his own right, it doesn't compare to anyone on that list. Assuming Daukaus has recovered sufficiently from those fights, which seems probable, he should look much better at 205 pounds.
He also has a better chance of utilizing his BJJ black belt against smaller opponents – especially those as notoriously lacking on the ground as Daukaus.
Rountree is coming off of a split-decision victory in which he was outstruck 120 to 85, and it could have very easily could've gone the other way. Those factors together paint a pretty clear picture. I expect Daukaus to close somewhere around +150.
Verdict: Chris Daukaus undervalued
Jaqueline Amorin (-265) vs Montserrat Ruiz (+200)
I was surprised by this line; both women have similar records overall and in the UFC specifically.
Jaqueline Amorin made her UFC debut in April, dropping a unanimous decision to Sam Hughes (3-4 UFC record).
Prior to that, she had mostly fought lower-level competition with her best win coming against an opponent with a 3-1 record.
Montserrat Ruiz is 1-1 in the UFC with a unanimous-decision win over Cheyanne Vlismas and a quick knockout loss to Amanda Lemos. The loss to Lemos looked much worse at the time, with Lemos going 3-1 since then en route to an upcoming title shot at UFC 292.
Given how it aged, I'm willing to overlook that loss for Ruiz. While the layoff of more than two years is slightly concerning, she's the only one of the pair with a UFC-level win on her record.
I'll take Ruiz, and sooner rather than later – her line has already dropped from north of +250 at FanDuel.
Verdict: Montserrat Ruiz undervalued
Hakeem Dawodu (-260) vs Cub Swanson (+196)
This is another fight with a significant age gap as 39-year-old Cub Swanson takes on 31-year-old Hakeem Dawodu in the UFC Vegas 78 co-main event.
Swanson has been with the promotion since 2011 with a 13-9 record along the way. He spent the bulk of his career at featherweight – where this fight is being contested – but briefly dropped to bantamweight for his last match.
Given his age, that was an ill-advised move, and Swanson was finished by leg kicks in the second round.
One of the more prolific finishers in the lighter weight classes, Swanson has had his last four bouts end via knockout. Two of them were in his favor while two went the other way. On the other hand, Dawodu has seen the judges in seven of his nine UFC bouts, with three of those split-decision wins in his favor.
That's a pretty strong sign that Dawodu isn't quite as good as his record indicates. Additionally, finding an underdog with all of the finishing upside is another benefit for Swanson. While I'll likely wait for "finish-only" or method-of-victory markets, this line should be tighter.