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MMA Link Club: Imperfect information versus true upsets in the UFC

By Zach Arnold | September 23, 2011

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Rampage Jackson is now a 6-to-1 underdog at the sportsbooks for his fight on Saturday night against Jon “Bones” Jones. So, here’s the question — if Rampage beats Jones, do we qualify it as a matter of not knowing enough about the ‘real’ Jon Jones or would it be classified as a true upset?

Jordan Breen shares his thoughts on this question:

“One of the things that stood out to me is that one of the reasons we’re shocked by outcomes so much in Mixed Martial Arts is largely due to incorrect or imperfect, I think imperfect is a better word to put it, imperfect information. And I’ll give you an example — there are upsets where you have information about these guys. I mean, Tito Ortiz over Ryan Bader’s a great example. I mean, we still didn’t maybe know Bader would go down on a Ortiz punch but we had a sense of exactly what these guys could do for the most part and the way that it played out surprised us and even Nogueira/Schaub is a good example of this. We were aware, you know, if someone had said Nogueira’s going to land a big punch and knockout Brendan Schaub, I mean, yeah, it’s the less likely out of outcomes between him being knocked out or him getting a knockout but it’s still wouldn’t have blown anyone away considering that we know Nogueira can box and we know that Brendan Schaub was lamped by Roy Nelson.

“However, we have so many upsets in Mixed Martial Arts that are made of the stuff that (whenever) Jon Jones’ first loss will probably be made out of. We simply don’t see guys in adversity. They look incredible and then the moment that they’re ever put in a difficult or compromising position, they can’t deal with it. I’m not saying Jon Jones will be that way, I’m saying that when he does lose it will probably come as a shock to some people…

“The ways you imagine fighters to lose or to fail or their shortcomings are recognized through how it’s happened in the past. We just haven’t had that with Jon Jones and there’s no way to extrapolate what Ryan Bader’s one okay right hand could possibly mean. So, I largely agree. I think when Jon Jones does go down and if he goes down dramatically, it will seem CRAZY and I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT HE LOST. And, yeah, it’s certainly a upset but I think there’s two kinds of upsets in MMA. There’s the kind of imperfect knowledge kind that we get so often but then there’s true upset where we understand very acutely how these guys interact and so I think those are more… richly satisfying because we know if Ryan Bader and Tito Ortiz or Matt Serra and Georges St. Pierre fought endlessly we know Serra & Ortiz are going to come out with the long end of the stick more times than not yet they were able to do it when they pulled it off in that one, singular instance. So, I think it’s not just a point worth making but I think it’s a point that gets to the heart of a lot of why MMA is this upset-crazy kind of sport.”

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Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “MMA Link Club: Imperfect information versus true upsets in the UFC”

  1. RST says:

    “…if Rampage beats Jones, …would it be classified as a true upset?”

    It would be an “upset” according to expectations.

    What else is there?

    Nobody can guarantee the outcome of a fight.

    (Well, except for anderson/okami, shogun/forrest 2, etc)

    But that doesn’t mean that jackson doesn’t have a chance.

    Just that people dont EXPECT him to pull it off.

    Hence upset.

    “Is that a compliment or an insult?”


    But I wouldn’t expect anything less stupid from bleacher report.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    1) CM Punk is right. Triple H also ruined wrestling.

    2) The only two fights that Jones wouldn’t be such a huge favorite against is Machida (for style) and Evans (for speed).

    3) UFC is staying on SpikeTV in 2012 with reruns and Dana White didn’t even flinch while saying that. He also said that SpikeTV isn’t playing nice by putting Bellator on Either way, this completely buries Bellator…. They have an entire year more to be on MTV2. This is not good for them.

    • RST says:

      @ 2),

      I would still put Shogun and Machida ahead of Evans.

      Evans might be able to wrestle/rub it out against Jones/Machida/Shogun. But his striking just isn’t at their level.

      Not even at jacksons for that matter.

      I think his striking had a better chance when he used to fool around and dance at first.

      But when he stopped doing that (and caring what people thought about him) his striking became easier to read.

      Lyoto does the same thing anderson does.

      He sits back and plays defense for a few minutes until you give your rhythm away coming forwards, then he jumps and buries you.

      And other then a GREAT fight for Jones with Lyoto, I think a Shogun rematch could be very different.

      Shogun has been known to have off nights between ethereal performances.

      He looked off that night IMO.

      And also dont count jackson all the way out just yet.

      Like Shogun, jackson can fluctuate between almost worthless (Forrest, Hamill), and knocking people out of the sport (Vanderlei, Chuck).

      He’s a lot faster and a much better boxer when he feels like it.

      At least 80% of his chances tonight are going to depend on whether he FEELS like it.

      • RST says:

        (and STARTED caring what people thought about him)

      • fd2 says:

        Shogun’s “off nights” seem to mysteriously coincide with all the matches he has to wrestle in.

        • edub says:

          That’s what I don’t get. Shogun seems to get a pass for performances he wasn’t “100%” in more than anybody else.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Wrestling and conditioning are Shogun’s weaknesses. Once you get closer to the 10 minute mark with him, he is usually out of breath and looking average.

        • Steve4192 says:

          Shogun’s weakness is that he is made out of glass.

          One of the greatest assets an athlete can have is durability. Shogun has all the talent in the world, but he just can’t stay healthy. His body just can’t take the physical strain of full-time training and competing. He is the Gayle Sayers of MMA … a phenomenal talent who will be talked about for ages as one of the great ‘what ifs’ in the sport’s history, but more durable guys will always be ranked ahead of him.

        • spacedog says:

          or the ones in which he is returning from knee surgery.
          It sucks and it is part of the game but acl tears are real and it is not “excuse” making to mention them.

        • edub says:

          That’s exactly what it is, when people try to use it as a way to explain his defeats.


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