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To say there’s one single correct process to analyze mixed martial arts, or any professional sport for that matter, would be a small-minded assumption for me to make.

There are a million different angles, themes, and statistics that one could consider important depending on the sport and the situation. Not to mention a million different pieces of noise that float through the timeline each week.

Years ago, I created a course on my process for analyzing MMA fights, and it’s a process I’ve continued to refine and improve upon each year.

It’s also a process that I’ve preached very publicly, and have spoken about in-depth within my breakdowns since I began my career. This process, while imperfect, has led me to consistently predict fights correctly over a large sample, spot values and red flags, and ultimately, profit while gambling on MMA in one form or another.

It’s a process that many of my subscribers use for their own analysis and I’d love nothing more than for this process to help you too.

From a macro perspective, I focus far more on round-winning equity than I do finishing ability, compared to the public.

What’s important to me is a fighter who can consistently A) control where the fight takes place, B) produce enough effective offense to win rounds on a judge’s score card, and C) have enough cardio and durability to maintain their style in their respective division.

Let’s break this down.




Being able to control where the fight takes place is probably the most important single aspect of MMA, and it’s a great place to start when you’re analyzing a singular matchup.

Each fighter will have a goal, a game plan, and a skill set. Are they able to maximize it? Are they even able to compete in the area of the sport in which they have those skills?

A great wrestler, for example, will want to land takedowns. If they are skilled enough, they’ll be able to consistently get their opponent on the mat, and work from top position. This is an instance of a fighter being able to control where the fight takes place.

A great striker, for example, will want to exchange on the feet. Depending on the specific striking style (boxing, kickboxing, muay-thai), that fighter will want to work in a specific range. Boxers are looking to fight in the pocket and punch, kickboxers are more comfortable at longer distances where they can kick, and muay-thai fighters are often comfortable in the clinch where they can use knees and elbows.

If I’m analyzing a striker, I want to make sure they’ll be able to fight within the range necessary for them to have the most success.

Or more importantly, if they’re fighting a superior wrestler, can they actually defend takedowns and allow themselves freedom to fight on the feet?

This is a very common question that we’ll have within matchups. A striker vs. a grappler. The grappler wants to wrestle and the striker wants to strike. Whoever has the skills to control where the fight takes place will dictate who wins. It’s honestly very simple.

If I’m analyzing a striker vs. grappler matchup, I need to make sure that the striker can adequately defend takedowns. Sometimes they can, but most of the time, they cannot.

Once the fight gets to the mat, does the wrestler have the control ability to hold his opponent down? Does the striker have the ability to scramble free and stand back up? These are additional aspects of control that help paint the picture of the matchup as a whole.

In summary, a fighter needs to have the skills necessary within a given matchup to be able to control where the fight takes place. If they can do so, I will be much more confident in their chances to win. If they cannot, I will be very hesitant to back them with any real investment.


Effective Offense


While control is very important, being able to produce effective and consistent offense in any given area of the sport is also a major factor in determining the outcome.

Wrestlers, once they’ve landed a takedown, are not obligated to continue to fight hard. Some will just lay on their opponent for several minutes. Others will advance position and try to lock up a submission. Others will throw a million ground strikes.

This is becoming more and more important because fighters are getting penalized for not producing offense once they land takedowns. So if I’m backing a wrestler, I want to be confident that once the fight hits the mat, they will actually do stuff.

I want them to have superior BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) skills to dominate control and put themselves in advantageous positions to win by submission. I also prefer they throw ground strikes, even if they’re not extremely damaging. Simply attempting offense looks much better than attempting nothing.

Striking, to me, is all about volume. It’s also a major point in where I differ from the markets.

Most people, I would say, value damage. Big, knockout shots. Blood.

I value strikers who attempt as many strikes as possible, even if their chances of winning by knockout are not that high.

The main reason why is because there are so many factors and variables that come with knockouts. The power, the precision, the timing, the durability of the opponent, and more.

While it may be easy to trust a fighter will throw bombs and try to knock their opponent out, landing that one big punch is an extremely volatile outcome.

Instead, focusing on fighters who will produce consistent offense is much more predictable. Especially over large samples, we know who is likely to throw lots of strikes, attempt lots of takedowns, and simply work hard throughout a fight. You might think that all fighters fall into this category, but that is simply not the case.

Also, there is so much variance in judging. They’re told to judge based on damage to start with, but these judges sit in one corner of the Octagon, with no stats or replays available to them. It’s just difficult for them to identify damage.

What’s easier to identify is who is throwing a lot of punches. Especially if neither side is badly wobbled or unconscious, most often, judges will give rounds to whichever fighter “looks” like they are winning. And in most cases, that’s the fighter who is attempting the most strikes, and landing the most head strikes, even if each individual punch isn’t a devastating blow.


Cardio and Durability


As an MMA fan, this is where I start to chuckle because it doesn’t matter if you’re the best wrestler or striker in the sport. It doesn’t matter if you can throw a million strikes per minute.

If a fighter doesn’t have the cardio to fight a hard 15 minutes, or 25 minutes, depending on the situation, they’ll never live up to their full potential.

Again, you may think this is a rare occurrence, but it is actually extremely common. I would say that the majority of fighters in the UFC have subpar cardio, so anyone who can fight a hard 15 minutes carries a much higher win-equity floor than average.

More importantly, on an individual level, we need to make sure that the fighter can sustain his or her own fighting style. If we have a wrestler who attempts high-level takedowns but gets tired after seven minutes, they are difficult to trust. We’ll often see their technical ability disappear after those seven minutes, which directly impacts their ability to control where the fight takes place and produce effective offense.

Similarly, there are many strikers who look like a world beater in the first few minutes. Amazing athleticism, power, and explosion. Unfortunately, that style uses a lot of energy, and those fighters can rarely sustain their style late into fights.

It’s uncomfortable, but I’ve made a career out of fading those guys against more consistent round winners.

Durability is a separate issue, and it’s a bit less predictive because of all the variables that come with taking and absorbing damage.

Sometimes, we’ll have a fighter who can eat literally any punch that’s thrown their way. Nothing hurts them. They don’t react at all. This is obviously a value add for that fighter.

Other times, guys will get hurt on weak shots, or they’ll get hurt quite frequently. Those who have fought for many years and taken lots of damage tend to wear down over time, and their durability gets worse.

The issue is that it’s not necessarily A + B = C. A non-durable fighter can still take damage sometimes. A fighter with great durability can still get hurt.

But in terms of predicting and trusting certain fighters, it’s ideal for them to be able to take whatever damage is likely or necessary at that respective weight class.




When I first released that course on my process, I dove into two upcoming fights in which I differed from the market. Those fights were Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega and Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington.

I’m going to touch on those examples again, not just because it makes me feel good to re-evaluate past wins, but because both examples reference parts of the process I’ve outlined above, and are good macro examples of how the process is used in real time. Of course, we have 12 fights to break down for each and every UFC slate, so I highly recommend checking those out if you want even more real-time information.

In the first example, Holloway and Ortega were priced near a pick’em. I thought Holloway deserved to be a clear favorite.

Ortega is a submission grappling specialist who also had some previous success striking. Holloway is a high-volume boxer.

I’ll use their current stats in this example — but Brian Ortega lands 0.95 takedowns per 15 minutes. In his seven-fight UFC career prior to fighting Max Holloway, Ortega had landed a total of one takedown. Holloway defends takedowns at 84%, which is great.

In terms of control, it was difficult to project Ortega to land a high number of takedowns, and, most likely, we were expecting to see that fight take place on the feet.

On the feet, Ortega lands 4.19 significant strikes per minute, while absorbing 6.66 per minute at a 49% defensive rate. Again, these are current numbers, so they were slightly different when the fight took place, but think about that.

Ortega, historically, gets hit far more often than he lands strikes on his opponents.

Max Holloway lands 7.17 significant strikes per minute, while absorbing 4.75 per minute with a 59% defensive rate.

Holloway is one of the highest-volume fighters the sport has ever seen, and he consistently lands way more strikes than his opponents. His cardio and durability are notoriously fantastic too.

Essentially, it was easy for me to project Holloway to out-strike Ortega over the duration of that fight. Holloway went on to batter Ortega and win by TKO in Round 4, landing 290 significant strikes compared to Ortega’s 110.

The other example of Woodley vs. Covington didn’t end up taking place until a while later, where Covington was a large favorite. At the time of releasing that course, he was something like +150 to the current champion Woodley.

And this example is less about Covington and that betting number specifically, and more about why I was always very low on Woodley compared to the market.

He was a dominant champion. He knocked out Robbie Lawler in two minutes to win the belt. He knocked down many of his opponents. He was a great athlete and had a high-pedigree wrestling background.

However, Woodley didn’t like to produce offense outside of those single, massive, fight-ending moments. When he did fight for extended periods, he got tired.

I hated that he barely wrestled at all, despite the credentials, and he ended his career averaging just 1.06 takedowns per 15 minutes. Landing one takedown in a 25-minute fight just isn’t extremely valuable.

On the feet, Woodley only averaged 2.36 significant strikes per minute, which is pitifully low. He absorbed 2.76 per minute and defended at 54%, which is an indication of him liking slow-paced fights.

Covington, at the time, landed well over 4.0 significant strikes per minute. He also landed 3.79 takedowns per 15 minutes.

The eventual fighter to take the throne from Woodley was Kamaru Usman, who was also an underdog with a similar profile to Covington. Usman lands 4.36 significant strikes per minute, while absorbing 2.74 per minute with a 54% defensive rate. He also lands 2.82 takedowns per 15 minutes.

These guys produced offense at a super high rate. They both came from high-pedigree wrestling backgrounds as well. In terms of control, Woodley’s one takedown in an entire fight was not likely to amount to much.

And if those fights took place on the feet, Woodley had a long history of data that told us he wouldn’t throw strikes at a high rate. But Covington and Usman would.

The ability to produce effective volume is so, so important, and this is one classic example where the market missed. Woodley was favored very often throughout his time as a champion, built on the premise that he’d continue to land one big shot and win by KO.

Instead, we were able to lay a bet on Usman at +165 against Woodley, who went on to dominate that fight, landing 141 significant strikes and two takedowns, while Woodley only landed 34 strikes.

Covington closed north of -300 when he eventually fought Woodley, and the outcome was the same. He landed 78 strikes and three takedowns, TKOing Woodley in the fifth round. Woodley landed one takedown and 34 strikes.

The point of these examples isn’t to illustrate why my process always works, because it does not. I get a lot of fights wrong, and there are many times in which the data doesn’t lead us to obvious answers that hold value on the markets.

The point of these examples is to give you a baseline idea of what I am thinking about when I look at a matchup. Over a large sample, I believe that using this process will lead you to identify winners and losers more often than not. You’ll be able to spot when fighters are overvalued, or have very reasonable paths to victory.


At the end of the day, this is still just what works for me, and this is the approach I use within my matchup breakdowns on a weekly basis. But I highly encourage you to take whichever parts of my process that work for you and make your process your own.