The 10 Most Profitable UFC Fighters of 2014

MMA: UFC 160-Cerrone vs NoonsAs MMA embarks on 2015, MMAOddsBreaker continues to look back on 2014. In this article, we count down the ten UFC fighters who were most profitable for bettors over the past twelve months. In order to calculate how valuable a fighter was, a standard bet of one unit (on underdogs) or to win one unit (on favorites) was used. Profitability was based on the cumulative total of each fighter for all their UFC bouts over the course of the year. As always, the closing odds from Several Bookmakers were used. Let’s take a look at who made some money in 2014: T10. Donald Cerrone (4-0) – +4.6U

-170 vs. Adriano Martins +160 vs. Edson Barboza -240 vs. Jim Miller -135 vs. Eddie Alvarez

One of the UFC’s most active fighters parlayed a perfect 2014 into a nice overall payday for those backing him. He was only an underdog once over the course of the year (against Barboza), but even as a favorite he always seemed a bit undervalued. ‘Cowboy’ only saw the scorecards once, which is always nice for MMA bettors considering the state of judging in the sport today, but even that bout (with Alvarez) was extremely easy to score. While he has been accused of inconsistent performances in the past, he was anything but in 2014. If the UFC ran their traditional New Year’s show prior to the calendar turning over, he could be even higher on this list, but he’ll hope to keep the ball rolling in 2015 against Myles Jury on January 3rd. T10. Jussier Formiga (2-0) – +4.6U

+170 vs. Scott Jorgensen +290 vs. Zach Makovsky

Before the UFC included the division, Jussier Formiga was once seen as the top flyweight fighter in MMA. After losses to Ian McCall, and starting his UFC career 1-2 (albeit with losses to John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez) he became something of an afterthought at 125lbs. Those who didn’t let losses to two of the best in the world color their perception of him too much were rewarded in 2014. As an underdog to a pair of wrestlers, Formiga went 2-0, stopping Jorgensen in the first round and outgrappling Makovsky to a decision. A torn LCL prevented Formiga from making more money last year, and will likely cap his potential in 2015 as well, but at least all is not lost for the Brazilian in terms of relevance. 9. Oleksiy Oliynyk (2-0) – +4.75U

-140 vs. Anthony Hamilton +375 vs. Jared Rosholt

Oleksiy Oliynyk is the oldest fighter on this list, and one of just two UFC newcomers to crack the top 10. It took him just 5:39 to earn bettors 4.75 units in 2014, as he submitted Anthony Hamilton and then surprisingly knocked out Jared Rosholt to pick up his 50th career win. The heavyweight division in MMA is usually the one with the biggest upset potential, and Oliynik’s win over Rosholt was a good example, clocking in as the 21st biggest upset of the year. Andrei Arlovski 28. Andrei Arlovski (2-0) – +5.2U

+140 vs. Brendan Schaub +380 vs. Antonio Silva

After six years out of the UFC, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski returned in 2014, and his two victories mean he could be in for one of the more unlikely title shots in UFC history. It didn’t start out so well for Arlovski though, as he put on one of the worst fights of the year against Schaub. Luckily, he was the beneficiary of a controversial split decision. That performance, combined with his previous loss to Antonio Silva, was part of the reason he was such a big underdog in his second bout of the year. He didn’t need any judges in the rematch, knocking ‘Bigfoot’ out and notching the 19th biggest upset of the last twelve months in the process. 7. Rafael dos Anjos (3-1) – +5.4U

+275 vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (Loss) -280 vs. Jason High +440 vs. Benson Henderson -275 vs. Nate Diaz

Very few fighters had a better second half of 2014 than Rafael dos Anjos. Just before the midway point of the year, he picked up a win over Jason High. Summer was when he really got cooking though, scoring a TKO victory over former lightweight champion Benson Henderson in one of the more shocking results of the year (it was also 11th biggest in terms of odds). He followed that up with an utter dismantling of Nate Diaz in the co-main event of a Fox televised card. For his efforts, dos Anjos has likely earned the next crack at Anthony Pettis’ lightweight title, where he is sure to be a big underdog again. If he manages to become champion, it’s probable he finds his way on to this list next year as well. 6. Thiago Santos (1-1) – +5.6U

+660 vs. Ronny Markes +255 vs. Uriah Hall (Loss)

2014 was almost an even bigger year for Thiago Santos. Not many would have faulted the doctor for stopping his UFC 175 bout with Hall, awarding the Brazilian a victory as a +255 underdog. Alas, Hall stuck in the fight and picked up a close decision, and Santos ends up in sixth place rather than first. The number four upset of the year – his 53-second body kick stoppage of Markes – was enough to ensure that much on its own. He already has his first bout of 2015 scheduled, as he’ll take on Andy Enz at UFC 183 on January 31st.The odds aren’t out yet, but Santos will probably find himself a favorite for the first time in his UFC tenure. Kiichi Kunimoto5. Kiichi Kunimoto (3-0) – +6.45U

+145 vs. Luiz Dutra +400 vs. Daniel Sarafian -235 vs. Richard Walsh

Kunimoto is the second UFC debutant to make this list, and probably the most unlikely given how his fights played out. His first bout in the organization was a controversial one, as he was awarded a DQ victory as Luiz Dutra threw elbows that were deemed illegal as Kunimoto shot in. There was nothing controversial about his win over Daniel Sarafian, as he submitted the TUF Brazil cast member in less than three minutes. Kunimoto got another gift in September, as almost everyone watching his bout against Walsh scored it in the Aussie’s favor, but the judges had it his way. All in all, it equated to +6.45 units if you bet on Kunimoto each fight, but not without some sweat. 4. Mike Wilkinson (1-0) – +6.5U

+650 vs. Niklas Backstrom

TUF Smashes veteran Mike Wilkinson fought just once in 2014, but he pulled off the fifth biggest upset in MMA, and that was enough to land him in fourth place on this list. An injury late in 2013 kept the Brit out for the majority of the year, so hopefully 2015 will see him more active, although nothing is scheduled as of yet. 3. Johnny Eduardo (1-0) – +7.35U

+735 vs. Eddie Wineland

Another fighter who just competed once in 2014, but pulled off a big upset in the process, was Nova Uniao’s Eduardo. His knockout of Wineland served as the biggest upset in the UFC last year (and second biggest in all of MMA). The 36-year-old hadn’t competed in two years prior to the Wineland bout due to injuries, and hasn’t been booked for a fight since, so hopefully he bet his purse on himself to tide him over until his next bout. 2. Neil Magny (5-0) – +7.45U

+135 vs. Gasan Umalatov +275 vs. Tim Means -290 vs. Rodrigo Lima +135 vs. Alex Garcia -200 vs. William Macario

The UFC’s most prolific fighter in 2014 fell just short of being the most profitable for bettors as well. Anybody who was aboard the Magny train had a pretty good year as he racked up wins in February, May, June, August, and October. It was a surprising turnaround for the TUF vet, who made his organizational debut in 2013 and went 1-2. His consistent improvement and massive physical tools have turned him into a handful for anyone at 170, and he’ll look to continue his recent streak starting in February 2015 against the fifth-ranked fighter on this list, Kiichi Kunimoto. The days of Magny as a big underdog are probably gone, as he’ll likely open a sizable favorite over Kunimoto, but if he keeps up his pace next year he may end up back on this list. 1. TJ Dillashaw (3-0) – +9.1U

-330 vs. Mike Easton +710 vs. Renan Barao -1100 vs. Joe Soto

MMA: UFC 177-Dillashaw vs SotoTJ Dillashaw had a crazy 2014. After dominating Easton in January, he was slotted in to be little more than a stay-busy bout for Barao. Nobody informed Dillashaw of this however, and he proceeded to put on the performance of the year in capturing the UFC bantamweight title. By the numbers, it ranked as the third largest upset of the year, but most consider it the biggest of 2014 by a sizeable margin. The tables were then turned in his first title defense. He was slated to have a rematch with Barao, but a weight-cutting mishap saw Soto step in on a day’s notice to take the bout. Dillashaw ended up a -1100 favorite, but successfully retained the title with his second consecutive fifth round stoppage. It’s very unlikely he’ll end up on this list again, especially as the only fighter he may have been an underdog against (Dominick Cruz) is out with another knee injury. Still, his unique circumstances in 2014 led to him being the most profitable fighter in the UFC.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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