One of my themes to MMA betting is putting an emphasis on planning ahead. My planning ahead process usually looks as follows; a fight gets announced, I make an initial hypothesis about the fight, and then as the fight nears I do my research, put my hypothesis to the test, and then determine if we have a betting opportunity.
Recently it was announced that Yushin Okami is going to fight Hector Lombard on the March 3rd UFC on FUEL TV 8 card, which takes place in Japan. This is a stacked card. In addition to Okami vs. Lombard, it includes Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann, Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve, and Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez.
On a recent podcast episode I talked about Yushin Okami and how his chin is done. Anderson Silva cracked Yushin Okami’s chin and Okami no longer has the ability to take a punch. If any top 15 middleweight hits Okami he is going down. The key when one of these guys fights Okami is if they can keep the fight on the feet. Alan Belcher evidently could not stay off of his back, and as a result he lost the fight. But this is where it gets tricky for Okami against Lombard. Unless Lombard completely gasses out, Okami is probably not going to be able to take Lombard down. Lombard stopped multiple takedowns from Tim Boetsch, and Lombard has very solid takedown defense with his judo base. If Lombard is healthy I think Yushin is going to struggle to get a takedown.
And if this fight stays standing for any decent length of time, Lombard is going to land punches and knock Okami out. It’s as simple as that. Okami has a cracked chin. We have seen the cracked chin phenomenon over and over in MMA. I dedicated a chapter in my book Betting on MMA to chin strength. Some recent examples of guys with cracked chins are Chuck Liddell, George Sotiropoulos, and now Yushin Okami. Anderson Silva cracked Okami’s chin and Tim Boetsch put him out for a second time. Then against a below average opponent in Buddy Roberts, Yushin had no desire to stay on the feet. Whenever they were on the feet, Roberts would tag Okami and Okami would go for the takedown. He looked very bad on the feet against Roberts. And then most recently against Belcher, Okami did not react well to getting hit and Belcher even rocked him once. My hypothesis is simple. Okami is going to struggle to get takedowns against Lombard, Lombard is going to land punches on the feet, and those punches are going to rock Okami and knock him out.
The odds are not out yet, but I expect that most of the MMA world is hip to the fact that Okami might be at a serious style disadvantage in this fight. That sentiment will probably be reflected in the moneyline odds. I would not be surprised if Lombard opens at anywhere from even money to being a moderate to large favorite. It would ruin my betting plans if Lombard is a big favorite, but even if he is all is not lost. I am expecting that whatever Lombard’s straight to-win odds end up being, the odds on him to win inside the distance or to win by ko/tko are going to be very attractive. Okami is not going to submit Lombard, he is not going to tko Lombard, and his usual decision path to victory is stymied by Lombard’s takedown defense. I think that we might be on to a Big Game Hunting opportunity here, and also that Lombard’s prop odds will probably be attractive enough to provide us with a margin of safety. As the fight nears I will do my usual research, and we will see if my initial hypothesis holds up.