UFC on ESPN 50 Betting Pick: Diego Lopes vs. Gavin Tucker
UFC Betting Pick: Diego Lopes -159
In August 5, 2023 featherweight action, Gavin Tucker and Diego Lopes will both look to right-foot their UFC careers after suffering recent setbacks. Tucker was stopped in the first round by Dan Ige in March, ending a three-fight win streak, while Lopes has yet to have his hand raised since joining the promotion two fights ago. Diego's last fight, this past May, resulted in a unanimous decision loss to Movsar Evloev. History, though, suggests Lopes' natural advantages convey a significant edge in this UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Font matchup. We are betting accordingly.
Per the BetMMA.tips database, which documents MMA action back to April 2013, fighters with greater than five inch reach advantages and better than six year age advantages are 17-4 (81%) when both are coming off losses.
Betting on this angle has proven good for a whopping 41% return on investment. Further, this win rate proved statistically significantly different (at better than the 95% confidence level) than the 61% win probability implied by Lopes -159 moneyline, as well as the 62% implied probability based on average -166 odds for fighters in this position (this is fancy math talk that means the observed high win rate for competitors in this position is very unlikely due to chance, and that this observation is probably exploitable).
Fundamentally, we estimate that Tucker's best chance for the upset relates to the more than seven takedown attempts per 15 minutes of action he attempts, and his proficiency as a jiu jitsu black belt, under Renzo Gracie. Lopes' soft takedown defense doesn't help (Diego has only managed to avert 36% of shots he has encountered through his first two UFC fights). However, Lopes is also a jiu jitsu black belt and has competed in the Abu Dhabi Jiu Jitsu Pro League. In fact, Diego has attempted approaching three times as many submissions as Tucker, per 15 minutes, over his burgeoning career in the Octagon. As such, while we assume Tucker will be able to take the fight to the mat, we do not give Gavin a huge advantage on the ground.
And while Lopes' net significant differential is quite negative in absolute terms and relative to Tuckers' (Diego has absorbed roughly three more strikes per minute than he has doled out, while Gavin has, more-or-less, given as good as he has taken), Lopes has never enjoyed the benefit of significant edges in reach and age at this level. We expect these advantages to be difference makers. Lopes' longer arms afford him the opportunity to deliver strikes while staying out of Tucker's range, while his opponent's advanced age implies diminished reflexes (i.e. worse defense) as well as a tougher time recovering from strikes taken--also worth noting, the benefit of youth over age is more pronounced at lighter weights, presumably as smaller, younger fighters demonstrate greater speed than their larger counterparts.
Based on the difference between the probability of success implied by Lopes' moneyline and the historical success rate for fighters in this position, Diego Lopes, in our estimation, represents the biggest value and, as a result, our favorite betting pick of the entire UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Font card. Accordingly, we are comfortable backing Lopes to secure the first win of his UFC career.