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UFC Vegas 82 Luck Ratings: Undervalued Fighters on Allen vs Craig Fight Card (Saturday, November 18)

UFC Vegas 82 Luck Ratings: Undervalued Fighters on Allen vs Craig Fight Card (Saturday, November 18) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC featherweight Chase Hooper

Let’s look into some mispriced betting lines and some possible luck-related value for UFC Vegas 82 on Saturday afternoon.

UFC Vegas 82: Allen vs. Craig takes place today at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. The entire 14-bout fight card streams on ESPN+ beginning at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT) for the preliminary card and 5 p.m. ET for the main card.

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.

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Brendan Allen (-395) vs. Paul Craig (+310)

The overwhelming amount of stoppages on both fighters' records makes this UFC Vegas 82 main event a tough one to get a read on from a luck standpoint.

The heavily favored Brendan Allen is 10-2 in the UFC with seven wins inside the distance and both losses coming via knockout. None of his three decision wins was especially controversial with only Jacob Malkoun unanimously taking even one round from Allen in those fights.

Craig is a similar story.

He's a kill-or-be-killed fighter with just one decision in 16 UFC fights thanks to Volkan Oezdemir refusing (wisely) to engage Craig on the ground while Craig repeatedly attempted to pull guard.

Both fighters' strengths are their submission game, which makes this an interesting matchup. Allen is the (much) more well-rounded fighter, but his A game is on the mat – the one area where Craig may have an edge here.

As an additional note, Craig looked much better in his debut fight at middleweight. He scored a pair of offensive takedowns against a fellow grappler in Andre Muniz and finished the fight with strikes from the top.

Allen also recently fought Muniz, and he landed only one takedown – but was able to find a submission when he did.

I like Craig's chances here if Allen is willing to engage in some grappling, or if Craig can force the issue via takedowns.

"If" is doing a lot of work there, though, as neither outcome seems especially likely.

If I had to pick an early side, I'd say Craig's performance in his first appearance at 185 pounds might be underrated by the market – but not enough to bet based on that alone.

Verdict: Fairly Valued

Chase Hooper (-230) vs. Jordan Leavitt (+190)

This is another fight without a single split decision between the combatants or otherwise fluky occurrence that we tend to highlight in this space.

Chase Hooper is 4-3 in the UFC while Jordan Leavitt is 4-2 with one decision win each.

Hooper came into the UFC at barely 20 years old, alternating wins and losses with those victories made possible by his excellent grappling ability.

Now 24, Hooper bumped up a weight class to lightweight in his most recent fight, and he showed off a much broader skill set, dominating Nick Fiore on the feet.

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I expect Hooper to continue to perform much better as a lightweight with his filled-out frame no longer leaving him vulnerable to being bullied by stronger, more physically mature fighters. He has four inches in height and three inches in reach over Leavitt, and he has a considerable edge in overall athleticism.

However, early money is on the side of "The Monkey King" with Leavitt opening at +210 before being bet down to +190 as of Monday.

I'll be trying to time the bottom on Hooper, who's already dipped further to -220 (at Caesars) as of Tuesday. Hopefully, we catch his moneyline at an even better price closer to fight time.

Verdict: Chase Hooper Undervalued, But Wait

Christian Leroy Duncan (-162) vs. Cesar Almeida (+136)

(Editor's note: Cesar Almeida has been forced out of this matchup reportedly due to an infection. Christian Leroy Duncan is now scheduled to fight replacement Denis Tiuliulin.)

Christian Leroy Duncan found his way to the UFC back at UFC 286 in England, where he was the hometown fighter against Dusko Todorovic.

Unfortunately, we saw only about two minutes of action from "CLD" as a Todorovic knee injury halted the bout.

Duncan followed up that performance with a one-sided loss to Armen Petrosyan. He was outstruck 89-59 in significant strikes while also being taken down and controlled on the ground for more than two minutes.

Yet, Duncan is the favorite against Cesar Almeida, a Contender Series signee who scored an impressive upset victory back in August.

Almeida has an extensive kickboxing background, including a win over current UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira back in 2013 – though Pereira has two wins over Almeida as well.

Normally I'd be concerned about the lack of overall MMA experience for Almeida, but this is a dream matchup for him. Duncan is a fairly one-dimensional striker himself, making this booking awfully reminiscent of some of Pereira's early UFC bouts.

With Duncan's only promotional win coming via injury, it's hard to see why he's favored here. I'd understand it if Duncan had shown any grappling prowess – but that hasn't been the case. I'll take Almeida, who's widely available in the +135 range.

Verdict: Cesar Almeida Undervalued

Nikolas Motta (-135) vs. Trey Ogden (+114)

Both lightweights in this matchup are 1-2 in the UFC, but how they arrived at those records is very different.

Trey Ogden's losses include a split decision to Jordan Leavitt (referenced above) and a unanimous decision to Ignacio Bahamondes, who's 5-2 in the UFC.

Ogden's win over Daniel Zellhuber also aged extremely well, with Zellhuber winning consecutive fights since Ogden handed him his first career defeat.

Which is drastically different than the record from Nikolas Motta. His UFC debut was a knockout loss to 38-year-old Jim Miller with his other loss against Manuel Torres coming via knockout as well.

Motta was able to finish his lone UFC win (unlike Ogden), but it came against a winless and since-cut opponent in Cameron VanCamp.

The combination of strength of schedule and split decision loss is enough for me to bite on Ogden at an underdog price. The best line as of Monday is at FanDuel, where he's +118. That number has already started to fall, so don't waste time on this one.

Verdict: Trey Ogden (+118 at FanDuel)

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