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UFC Rematch Betting Strategy & Statistics

Jones Gustafsson

Rematches are not uncommon in the world of mixed martial arts. If a fighter sticks around the organization for a meaningful length of time, you can be assured that they’ll be scheduled to fight an opponent they have already faced at one point or another. On top of that, dominant champions will always have a rematch or two solely due to running out of fresh opponents to face in their weight class.

When these rematches take place, how should you bet them? Should you always bet on the fighter who won the first fight? Is the underdog the right play? That’s a question I wanted to answer so I brought up some data on the topic.

Since UFC 1, when fighters have faced each other for a repeat bout, the winner of the previous fight has gone 71-41-3 in the rematch. This means the previous winner is victorious in 61 percent of rematch fights.

Rate of finishes in rematch fights since UFC 1
  • 53 KO/TKO (46.01%)
  • 43 decisions (37.1%)
  • 12 subs (10.6%)
  • 4 doctor stops (3.53%)
  • 3 draws (2.6%)

How to use these numbers to win money

In order to utilize these numbers to our full advantage as bettors, we need to dive into them a little bit deeper. Our database for fight odds goes back to 2012, so we’ll use from then until present day (January 31, 2019) as our sample size for favorites and underdogs.

Betting on the winner of the first fight in a rematch (since 2012)RecordProfit ($100 bets)
Previous winner in rematch40-16+$1283.17
Previous winner in rematch (as betting favorite)27-8+$305.71
Previous winner in rematch (as betting underdog)13-8+$977.46
Betting on the loser of the first fight in a rematch (since 2012)RecordProfit ($100 bets)
Previous loser in rematch16-40-$1813.84
Previous loser in rematch (as betting favorite)8-13-$969.84
Previous loser in rematch (as betting underdog)8-27-$844.00

Fighters who won the first fight walked into the rematch as a betting favorite 35 times out of a total of 54 rematches since 2012, winning 27 of those fights (77.1 percent win rate).

While that’s an extremely high win rate, the profit from these fights is not as large as you might imagine given the fact that a decent portion of the fighters would’ve been favorites by a significant margin. $100 bettors would’ve walked away with a profit of $305.71 if they blindly bet on the fighter who won the previous bout when they were listed as the favorite in the second fight all 35 times this occurred.

The most significant (and profitable) statistic I found was that the fighter who won the first bout won 13 out of 21 rematches when they were listed as an underdog, giving $100 bettors a profit of $977.46.

All in all, since 2012, if you bet $100 on the fighter who won the first fight when they competed in a rematch, you would’ve gained a profit of $1,283.17.

History tends to repeat itself, and UFC rematches are no exception to that rule.

Bettors can look at UFC 210 as a prime example of this as Daniel Cormier went into his rematch with Anthony Johnson as a +115 underdog despite winning their first fight. He won again in lopsided fashion via second-round submission. Rose Namajunas was also an underdog at EVEN money heading into her UFC 223 rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk and went on to win in a convincing unanimous decision.

While the statistics show that betting on the fighter who won the first fight when they rematch an opponent is profitable, the complete opposite can obviously be said about betting on fighters in a rematch bout who lost the first contest.

Favorites in rematches when they lost the first fight are 8-13, losing $100 bettors a total of $969.84.

Underdogs in rematches when they lost the first fight are 8-27, losing $100 bettors a total of $844.

To put these betting statistics into as simple terms as possible, you can feel safe betting on a fighter when they take on someone whom they’ve already beaten. Whether they’re listed as favorites or not, you will eventually gain a profit long term implementing this strategy.

What about title fights?

Not all rematches are created equal. There are some fights that never should be fought a second time, or even a third time in some cases *ahem*BJ Penn vs Frankie Edgar*ahem*.

To take these fights out of the equation, for curiosity’s sake I wanted to look at the numbers when taking ONLY title fights into consideration. For the fight to fall under this category, both the first fight and the rematch had to have been for the belt.

The all-time record for the previous winner heading into a title fight rematch is 26-11.

Since 2012, previous winners in fights for the title are 17-4, netting $100 bettors a profit of $431.74.

These numbers clearly do nothing but further the point that betting on the previous winner heading into a rematch is a smart play, so feel free to implement this strategy moving forward if you want to win some money.

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