There have been some famous shocks in UFC history, with Serra vs St. Pierre and Rousey vs Holm probably being the most famous recent examples of fights that have gone against the expectations of sportsbooks.
The upcoming bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje – with the latter man shown in action below – certainly has the potential to see another upset against current betting trends.
With the ruthless nature of Gaethje’s last victory in mind, we’re going to take a look back at what could easily qualify as the biggest shock from the last ten years.
A +700 shot for glory
While other shocks maybe a little more famous, T.J. Dillashaw vs Renan Barao at UFC 173 in 2014 is a huge one, with the impact magnified by its setting in glorious Las Vegas. Prior to the event, Dillashaw was priced at around +700, which is very significant in MMA terms.
To put current Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje odds into perspective next to it, Gaethje entered May 2020 as only a marginal outsider at +150, for an implied win probability of 40%. Indeed, if there was a comparable mismatch from boxing’s past ahead of Dillashaw’s shock win vs Barao, the 1990 fight between Mike Tyson and James ‘Buster’ Douglas (a 42/1 victor) certainly springs to mind.
Clearly, very little was expected of Dillashaw, as he already had two losses to his name. On the other hand, Barao was entering the octagon off the back of a ridiculous win streak of 32 fights. There was very little to suggest it wasn’t going to be a anything other than a one-sided fight.
Not even close
It would have been a great night for those who didn’t count out Dillashaw, and an even better one for those who backed a win via KO or TKO, with the odds of a specific win method invariably longer than that of a win alone.
The result of the fight wasn’t even a close one, with five one-sided rounds that culminated in a vicious combination from Dillashaw that stopped Barao in the fifth round:
What made it more remarkable is that Barao’s fight was meant to be against Raphael Assuncao, who had beaten Dillashaw the previous year. Clearly, the short notice didn’t bother Dillashaw, as he stunned the Brazilian favourite in the first round and didn’t let up with his pressure.
Dillashaw defended the title twice thereafter, and as of April 2020, had a record of 6-2 following the fight. Meanwhile, Barao has had nine fights since, losing seven of them, including a rematch with Dillashaw.
Would Ferguson suffer a similar fate if beaten?
Barao has never been able to recover from that shock defeat, but a loss for Ferguson via judge’s decision would definitely not ruin his career. With two TKOs, three submissions and one decision across his last six victories, Ferguson is still as versatile as ever.
With four ‘Fight of the Night’ awards from his last five victories, Ferguson is too much of a crowd draw to be relegated to the sidelines in the event of a loss. It is eight years to the month since Ferguson last lost a UFC fight, suffering the defeat via decision, and he has in fact never been knocked out or stopped in his entire career.