Throwing a few units on a favorite you know will pan out is always fun, but most bettors live for the underdogs to pull off an upset. Not only does it pack the bankroll swelling-positive numbers you love, it also has that “I told you so” air to it. Sometimes that risk is calculated, sometimes it’s a hunch, and sometimes it’s just a play you want to make before you set your bankroll to bet on NFL football on Sunday.
Underdogs are underdogs for a reason though and can be a tricky play. So, let’s review the biggest upsets from last weekend with an eye towards what to look for in the future.
Miguel Torres vs. Marlon Moraes:
Odds: Torres -350 Moraes +265
Result: Moraes by Split Decision
Capping difficulty: 7
Torres first fight for WSOF panned out to be a major disaster as he dropped the fight to Moraes via split decision. Trust me, this wasn’t close either and never warranted the split, as Moraes outworked and out landed Torres across three rounds. Using smart footwork, a variety of entries and power in the pocket, Moraes battered Torres around the cage while the former champ tried to get into his own rhythm. While Torres was able to land jabs at times, he spent most of the fight trying to establish this range and unable to hold it against his opponent.
If you saw how well Moraes navigates the pocket and how poorly Torres fares on the inside, this is a bet you could have hit on for some serious cash, thought that needless split decision would have put a rock in your stomach. Such are the perils of betting!
Gregor Gracie vs. Tyson Steele:
Odds Gracie -310 Steele +230
Result: Steele by KO
Capping difficulty: 5
Another WSOF bout that paid out beautifully, Gregor Gracie wanted to carry the torch of Gracie Jiu-jitsu into the next generation, but came up short. Having taken Steele to the mat early, he was unable to secure a fight-ending submission as Steele patiently fought an arm-triangle and sprung to his feet at his earliest opportunity. With Gracie stuck standing, his striking was shown to be more than a little wanting as Steele landed everything he threw. A massive knee dropped Gracie and after a few standing punches to his downed foe, Steele was stopped and awarded a TKO victory.
This wasn’t rocket science to catch on to, as Gracie’s complete lack of striking was written across his entire career. That doesn’t mean he can’t win fights with grappling alone, but Steele brought a level of athleticism that would make it a dog fight at every turn. While the odds said Gracie was a heavy favorite, a little research would tell you it was a 50/50 fight.
Mike Richman vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev:
Odds: Richman -250 Shamhalaev +195
Result: Shamhalaev by KO
Capping difficulty: 6
The semi-finals of Bellator’s Featherweight tournament produced a fantastic match-up in Richman vs. Shamhalaev, which turned out to be a fantastic upset as well. With Richman’s powerful striking and tight movement on display, he walked down Shamhalaev for the first moments of the fight, but found himself countered just as he moved in for the kill himself. A blazing overhand right from Shamhalaev shut off Richman’s lights as he moved in to land a KO blow of his own, sending the Russian into the tournament finals.
Both men are top-notch strikers, but Shamhalaev is just a bit more inventive and fluid in his movement and would be able to slip something past Richman’s guard early, though his window would close at the fight went on. A close fight on paper, but it was one where the skewed odds were too inviting to pass up.
Gerald Harris vs. Josh Burkman:
Odds Harris -260 Burkman +180
Result: Burkman by Decision
Capping difficulty: 9
Wrestling grinder Gerald Harris recently jumped ship to WSOF, but may regret the step into deeper waters. Long out of the spotlight, Josh Burkman came into the fight looking like a million bucks, hustling Harris on the feet and hitting several takedowns through the bout. The plodding Harris looked to counter and tried to turn on the juice in the 3rd round, but it was far too late as Burkman coasted to a decision win.
If you saw this one coming, my hat is off to you. Burkman has always been good, but historically done poorly against strong wrestlers. Having added an entire facet to his game with an active boxing skill set, he was able to keep Harris guessing and use his long limbs effectively. Not bad for an old UFC cast-off, and a nice payout if you laid money down.
There always seems to be an upset or two, that’s what makes sports so great and this past weekend in MMA gave us plenty to talk about.