By The Numbers: The Top 50 MMA Upsets of 2013

Robbie LawlerWhenever the topic of huge upsets is broached during a UFC broadcast, the conversation eventually turns to UFC 69 and the bout that saw Matt Serra wrest the title away from Georges St-Pierre in perhaps the most shocking way possible. Odds for that bout reached as high as -1300 (bet $1300 to win $100) for the reigning champion St-Pierre, while Serra was a massive +850 (bet $100 to win $850) underdog. If there is any one bout to blame for the prevailing attitude that “anything can happen in MMA,” this would be it. We all know what happened when the bell rang; a clipping blow followed by a rash of measured aggression from Serra, and he was the new UFC welterweight champion. It was quite the story, and the MMA world was truly shocked. Of course, Serra never successfully defended his belt, as in a rematch with St-Pierre at UFC 83 he dropped his title back to the Canadian, this time as a mere +445 underdog. Since that time, Serra’s win has often been characterized as a fluke (it wasn’t), and those who didn’t see the bout live in person or on PPV simply don’t have the same appreciation for the moment. Perhaps those who weren’t able to catch Serra’s upset when it happened were paying attention during 2013, as there were two upsets that — from a numbers perspective — were even larger. So, without further ado, here are the Top 50 Upsets of 2013 (all lines are closing odds from Several Bookmakers):

2013 MMA Upsets

There are a few takeaways from this list. First 23 of the 50 occurred in the UFC, which makes sense given the number of events and fights the organization puts on. Bellator produced the second-most big upsets, clocking in at 10. Again, this is most likely a product of the number of fights they have in the circular cage. There is a substantial dropoff after the two largest companies, but World Series of Fighting, Maximum Fighting Championship and BAMMA all deserve a mention for producing an average of 0.67 large upsets per event. On the other end of the scale, matchmakers and oddsmakers for Legacy FC, Cage Warriors, and especially Resurrection Fighting Alliance should all be commended, as in 31 combined events they only produced two of the top 50 upsets of 2013. Legacy and Cage Warriors put on 10 and 14 events respectively, each with only one upset making the list. RFA had seven events, and none of their fights cracked the top 50 (although it could be argued that Jared Downing should have a top 3 spot from his bout with Lance Palmer). In terms of individuals, three men have the honor of making the list twice in a positive sense. Emanuel Newton made bettors a killing against Mo Lawal this year, besting him as both a +975 underdog (the largest of this year, and to my recollection the biggest since back to Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou defeating Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as a +1200 underdog at PRIDE 33) and a +250 underdog in their November rematch. Another Bellator fighter, Doug Marshall, also makes the list twice as his improbable run through the Bellator middleweight tournament consisted of three upsets, including those at +295 against Sultan Aliev and +260 against Brett Cooper. Just disregard the terrible judges decision in the Aliev fight, as those are surprisingly common on this list. Finally, Robbie Lawler earned his upcoming UFC welterweight title shot by winning three fights inside the Octagon in 2013, especially his UFC debut against Josh Koscheck where he was pegged at +280, and his most recent victory over Rory MacDonald where he paid out a juicy +365. Two men have the distinction of appearing as both the victor and victim in this list, as journeyman Jay Silva defeated Michal Materla as a +400 underdog over in KSW, but also lost to Wes Swofford as a -530 favorite at MFC 36 (Swofford was +350). The biggest rollercoaster year probably belonged to Josh Burkman however, as his 2013 featured a victory over Aaron Simpson at WSOF 2 (which just missed the list), then in consecutive main events he defeated Jon Fitch and lost to Steve Carl. Against Fitch he was a +305 underdog, rewarding those few bettors who supported him, but he took that money right back, dropping to Carl as a -375 favorite (Carl was +335). There has been talk that 2013 has been a crazy year for MMA, with a plethora of Fight, KO and Submission of the Year candidates. The numbers support that as well, as there has been no shortage of massive upsets across the sport over the past 12 months. Looking at the current odds for the remainder of the year, there are only two more fighters who could add themselves to this list. As of publishing, Miesha Tate is a +550 underdog to Ronda Rousey, and Fabricio Camoes is +300 in his bout against Jim Miller at UFC 168. Only time will tell if we’re in store for another monumental upset to close out 2013… and how fitting it would be.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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