The bet: Don'Tale Mayes -120
We are backing Don'Tale Mayes to defeat Andrei Arlovski in June 3, 2023 heavyweight division UFC action at The Apex Arena in Vegas. Driving our enthusiasm for the slight favorite, we note a couple of natural advantages in favor of "Lord Kong" that convey a playable edge.
Most notably, Mayes is almost 13 years younger than "The Pitbull", who has made 44 trips around the sun. Per the BetMMA.tips database, fighters with at least ten year age advantages are 387-165 over roughly the last decade. The 70% win rate for combatants in this spot proved statistically significantly different than the 63% success rate implied by average odds of -170. This finding supports the notion that this angle is likely not due to chance, and that fading meaningfully older fighters is probably enduringly exploitable.
Mayes also boasts a four inch reach advantage over Arlovski. Fighters with 3-5" longer arms are 38-16 versus opposition giving up a least a decade, since April 2013.
In his last action, Arlovski lost to Marcos Rogerio de Lima on the UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Allen card last October, while Mayes was felled by Augusto Sakai at UFC Fight Night: Muniz vs. Allen in February. Also supporting our play on Don'Tale, considerably younger fighters with moderate reach advantages are 6-2 when they and their opposition are both coming off losses.
Consistent with our thesis that by this point in his career, "The Pitbull" is now an old dog (i.e. a fighter on an irreversible, age-based decline), consider that in his five previous fights, though Arlovski is 4-1, his competition was a meager 2-2, on average, in the four fights leading up to their meetings with Andrei. Further, this bunch is 2-10 collectively since fighting Arlovski. This is to say that the veteran has been relegated to facing hand-picked, mostly washed-up opposition in recent years.
At more than 30 years old, and with a middling UFC record (Don'Tale is 4-4, with 1 no contest), Mayes might meet some of the criteria for Arlovski's prototypical opposition in the twilight of Andrei's greater than 22-year stint as a UFC competitor. However, Don'Tale's power might be the difference-maker next Saturday, as an aged Arlovski has proven vulnerable to closers. Arlovski's six losses over the last five years occurred versus fighters with average 75% finish rates in wins.
Inline with the tally amassed by combatants that have defeated Andrei since this time in 2018, three of Mayes' four wins for the promotion materialized via KO/TKO. In stark contrast, in Arlovski's last four wins, he faced mixed martial artists with a combined 43% finish rate in victories. When the Belarusian-American last faced a bonafide closer at this advanced stage of his career, Rogerio de Lima submitted Andrei in the first round.
Given the demonstrable edge Don'Tale's youth implies, along with his penchant for finishing fighters when he does win, and Arlovski's vulnerability to show stoppers, we are happy to back Mayes for the win, at odds we consider to be greatly discounted versus fair value.