SuparTipstar’s UFC Fight Night 126 Best Bet
SuparTipstar’s UFC Best Bet record to date is 6-9, +12.5u for an ROI of 73.1%.
The focus of my best bet tonight is the women’s bantamweight fight between Sarah Moras and Lucie Pudilova. This article may be a little longer than others as I wish to describe some of the ways I see women’s MMA in order to explain how I came to this bet. If you’re not interested in my waffle, skip to the end for a 2u prop bet.
I’ve been quite critical of women’s MMA in the past, even in past best bet articles, but that comes from a disappointment with what women’s MMA looks like vs what it should look like. What it ‘should’ be like is a very exciting prospect for any true fan of martial arts.
We know that the value of different arts, techniques, positions and so on can rely quite heavily on a person’s physical attributes. It’s part of what makes MMA such a fascinating sport and many fans are drawn by the conflict between skill and physicality. Women’s MMA brings a different physical makeup to the sport and with that the value of the different arts, techniques, positions and so on should change.
What I mean by that is if you have less knockout power, for example, then the value and usefulness of boxing can decrease, certainly when it comes to the likelihood of that skill alone ending the fight and earning a victory. I would argue kick heavy striking arts should dominate striking in women’s MMA and boxing should largely be used to ‘score points’ and setup kicks which anyone can end a fight with. The lesser threat of ground and pound on the ground, and the increased average flexibility of a female competitor should really turn the grappling on its head. The value of positions such as half guard should be decreased. Having someone like Yoel Romero in your half guard is quite a different predicament.
For whatever reason we tend to treat and view the women’s game exactly the same as we do the men’s, and I believe the majority of women imitate the male training practices that have been around for a long time – perhaps under the guise of ‘acceptance’ when it is quite the opposite in my opinion. What works for males in martial arts is not automatically what works for females and it is doing them a disservice to pretend that the playing field is the same.
This viewpoint extends all the way to judging fights. In a male grappler vs striker fight a typical way for the fight to play out, and be viewed, is that the grappler is going to have to take down and control the striker for fifteen minutes while the striker just needs to land that one shot. In a well-developed women’s MMA game even that idea should be flipped. Due to the decreased likelihood of the knockout, the striker needs to control and score points for fifteen minutes while the grappler can be seen as the more likely finisher, and the fighter that just needs the one moment.
Now that’s a massive generalisation, I admit, and there is a whole spectrum of abilities and skills (don’t stand with Amanda Nunes for example!), but I hope it’s an adequate explanation of how I interpret women’s fights differently.
To bring it back to the fight this article is about I’ll first talk about Moras. Sarah is not physically imposing, nor is she a highly skilled striker. She is not a standout wrestler. A lot of clinches she engages in end up with her on the bottom on the ground. That sounds bad, and is definitely a reason she can be underrated by fans who don’t look any further or can’t understand that these drawbacks aren’t as a big a deal in women’s fight, but Moras is a fighter who maximises her win probability in spite of these issues (some of them even help).
She is a purple belt in BJJ, she is extremely flexible, she has very powerful hips, and she specialises in armbars. She doesn’t want to strike, and as long as she can be fearless and brave (which is easier with a decreased threat of being ko’d on the way in) she can engage a clinch. It doesn’t matter who gains the dominant position out of the clinch, just that it hits the ground. If she has half guard or better, with the decreased threat of ground and pound mentioned above, you are in her game now. She will use her flexibility to attain a high guard, and her powerful hips create a huge threat of sweeps and control. Combine that with a purple belt specialising in one technique and this is a problem! It might look like a poorly skilled fighter to many but she is dangerous, and her game makes her as dangerous as she can be.
Pudilova is the favourite in this fight. I would guess because she is the better striker and will win the fight if it is fought on the feet. That carries a lot of win probability in a male fight. Less so in a female fight. I don’t dispute she is the better striker, I highly dispute the amount of value that brings. She is a wild fighter, fun to watch. She has very good power kicks and if she hangs around the UFC long enough she will knock someone out with a head kick eventually. Her power kick to the body is usually extremely telegraphed (see setting up power kicks with boxing above), it gets caught a lot and she gets dragged in to clinches as a result.
In the clinch, especially with her back on the fence, her posture is poor. Rather than treating it as a position of danger (as above it’s the grappler who needs one moment) she will gladly throw knees to the body which can get her taken down or the position reversed. To my eye she does not seem well versed in grappling. She trains out of the Czech Republic and I can’t help but wonder what that level of training, particularly in the grappling realm, looks like. She hasn’t really faced anyone with BJJ credentials and I can see there being a big skill gap if this hits the ground. She also has long limbs for bantamweight, which is not a positive going against an arm snatcher.
I think Moras will walk through the fire here, gain the clinch, get it to the ground and submit Pudilova with an armbar. Though a lot must happen to get it there, I think her fight finishing ability on the ground trumps anything Pudilova brings in terms of win probability. To my original point, if you take these respective skill sets and give them to two males, Pudilova would be a huge favourite.
My best bet for UFC Fight Night 126 is Sarah Moras by submission @ 9.5, +850 (Skybet). This is a 2u bet.