UFC Fight Night San Diego: Expect a Bear Sighting
Betting on reach and experience: Devin Clark +130
We see value with Devin "Brown Bear" Clark versus Azamat "The Professional" Murzakanov on the UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Cruz card Saturday.
Clark is listed as a +135 underdog (42.5% implied odds of winning) but The Action Network's crowd-sourced odds make "Brown Bear" closer to a PICK (48.7%).
Clark will lord a four inch reach advantage over Murzakanov Saturday. This matters as MMA Sucka reports a study of 1,178 Nevada mixed martial arts events between 2003 and 2010 that found win rates approaching 70% for fighters with at least a 3.5" reach advantage.
Relatedly, Fightnomics' Reid Kuhn examined 2,246 UFC fights from 1993 to 2013 and likewise observed a positive correlation between reach advantages of more than two inches and win rates. Fighters with 2.5 to 4" longer arms won at approximately a 55% clip, per Kuhn's analysis—regardless of whether fights unfolded as standup affairs or were decided primarily on the mat.
Data from the BetMMA.tips database validates these observations. In fights featuring middleweights or bigger combatants that were both successful in their last endeavor, backing underdogs with 3-5 inch reach advantages proved a profitable strategy. Of 36 occurrences since 2013, competitors in this spot won 20 times, for a 56% win rate and a stunning 57% return on investment (at average odds of +187).
Granted, in two appearances to date in the octagon, Murzakanov has collected two stoppages against fighters with meaningful reach advantages. However, Tafon Nchukwi and Matheus Scheffel lack the experience and skill of a Devin Clark. Thus, tonight's action probably represents the biggest test to date for the up-and-coming KO artist from Jersey. We do not expect Clark to go quietly.
Fundamentally, Clark is the more effective striker by connection rate. In 13 bouts under the UFC banner, Devin has landed 57% of strike attempts, versus a mere 43% for Murzakanov. Clark is also the superior grappler, averaging better than two takedowns per 15 minutes, with an accuracy rate of 35%. Murzakanov has coerced opponents to the mat about once every 15 minutes and converted just 16% of attempted takedowns. Thus, Clark holds the edge standing and is the better grappler.
However, Murzakanov boasts an advantage in the power department. In 11 professional fights, "The Professional" has amassed eight KO/TKO's, one submission and only two decision wins (Murzakanov is has yet to taste defeat). Playing into Murzakanov's hands, gaps exist in Clark's defense. Brown Bear has stifled only 46% of his opposition's attempts (compared to 56% for Murzakanov).
Still, we think Clark's experience will aid the veteran in eluding Murzakanov's haymakers. Supporting this thinking, note that Clark outpointed Alonzo Menifield after the latter racked up four KO's in four UFC fights. We are taking a modest flyer on Devin Clark at what we regard as attractive plus-money odds.