Long-Term Betting Trends: Rematches

Combat sports are often defined by rivalries, and rarely does a memorable rivalry develop over a single fight. In MMA, we’ve seen storied rivalries like Liddell/Couture, Silva/Rampage, St-Pierre/Hughes, and Edgar/Maynard, each of which has treated us to a three fight series. However, three fights aren’t always needed to determine the superior fighter. Looking back at the title run of Anderson Silva, he proved his dominance over Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen by besting each twice. Sometimes, even when fighters split a pair of fights, the second bout is so emphatic that it ends the feud. Think Penn/Pulver or St-Pierre/Serra. This week, MMA fans will be treated to two main event rematches, and both are building off of great first fights. Will we see the birth of the next great MMA rivalry over the next few days? Or, are we going to see the type of outcomes that leave no desire to see a third bout? At UFC Fight Night 27, Carlos Condit will look to avenge his 2009 loss to Martin Kampmann in what was Condit’s UFC debut. In a primarily grappling affair, Kampmann edged out the win by split decision via superior wrestling and a more effective top game. He will need a repeat of the performance that saw him go 5/5 on takedowns if he hopes to hang a third consecutive loss on the former interim champion, who has only become more dangerous since their first encounter. Condit currently sits as a -250 favorite at Several Bookmakers, with the comeback on Kampmann at +210. Three days later at UFC 164, we will be treated to a rematch of one of the greatest fights in WEC history between UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson and the man who beat him to become the final WEC Lightweight titlist, Anthony Pettis. In an extremely back and forth affair, Pettis ended up putting an exclamation point on the fight by landing the ‘Showtime’ kick to take the final round and earn the decision. Currently, Henderson is the ever-so-slight favorite at -115 to Pettis’ -105. Interestingly, in both of these fights the loser of the first fight is the betting favorite in the second. Does this hold with the trend of rematches in the UFC? We’ve crunched the numbers so that you don’t have to. There have been 62 rematches in the UFC since the inception of the unified rules. Some were the second fight between two fighters and some were the trilogy fight. Rematches that took place in PRIDE or other organizations were not included in these numbers (i.e. Dan Henderson/Wanderlei Silva 2), but if there was a bout outside of the UFC and the rematch happened inside the Octagon, it has been included in these numbers (i.e. Quinton Jackson/Wanderlei Silva 3 or Nick Diaz/Jeremy Jackson 3). This distinction only applies to nine of the 62 fights examined. In addition, there were two rematches where the original fight took place prior to the unified rules (Liddell/Horn 2 and Rizzo/Telligman 2). Of those 62 rematches, the previous winner won the rematch 31 times, while the previous loser won 28 times, showing no real advantage to the fighter who had their hand raised the first time around (sorry Kampmann and Pettis). This number only adds up to 59, as BJ Penn/Caol Uno 2 and Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard 2 both ended in draws, while the first fight between Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall produced no winner to judge the second fight by for that criterion. The more telling statistic is that in those rematches, the younger fighter won the subsequent bouts 38 times, with the older fighter only walking away the victor 22 times (again, Penn/Uno and Edgar/Maynard causing the discrepancy). This should come as welcome news to Condit and Pettis backers, as they hold two and four year age advantages, respectively. In a general sense, the amount of the age difference plays a big role in how often a younger fighter wins, however the same does not hold true for rematches. In rematches where there was a five or more year age gap, the younger fighters went 15-9, for a 62.5% winning percentage. This is a miniscule difference from the 61.3% winning percentage (38/62) for younger fighters in general, so the mere fact that Condit and Pettis are younger gives them the advantage here. Some other interesting facts in regards to rematches which could play an impact this coming week. Both Kampmann/Condit 1 and Pettis/Henderson 1 went to decision. When the first fight between two competitors went to decision (which happened 23 times), the rematch has gone to decision 15 times (65.2%). The situation for the UFC Fight Night 27 main event isn’t quite so simple however. Kampmann/Condit 1 was a three-round fight, while their rematch will be scheduled for five rounds. In 11 previous situations like that, the rematch has ended inside the distance nine times. Of those original 11 fights, four went to decision the first time around with only two going to decision in the rematch. Finally, take this with a grain of salt due to the same size, but there have been three rematches of fights that took place in the WEC. The older fighter won all three original meetings, while the younger fighter has come out victorious twice in the rematches. What I see when looking at these numbers is that Carlos Condit has a slight edge over Martin Kampmann due to the age factor, and based on the history of three-round fights moving to five-round rematches we’re likely to see a finish here. Also, based on being the winner of their first fight and the younger fighter, Pettis has a substantial advantage heading into the rematch with Henderson, and this fight is likely to go to decision.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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