As the betting industry peaks its interest in the millennial-friendly MMA betting genre, Fabio de Brito, CEO of FightAnalytics, says his company’s scouting models are unrivalled in combat sports, and more than capable of delivering inplay markets.
Mixed Martial Arts – more widely known as MMA – is a rising betting category, and one that could give operators the chance to capture a younger demographic of sports fans.
While enticing those elusive millennials is an industry-wide imperative, making markets on new sports is easier said than done, requiring specialist knowledge often beyond what the usual suspects can muster.
Hoping to carve out a space for itself in this evolving and untapped world of MMA betting is a littleheard of Brazilian start-up, Fight- Analytics, that has thus far been supplying in-fight data to various media organisations, both at home and in the US.
Having recognised the booming potential for MMA data in the betting industry, the firm is now turning its hand at odds compilation.
“I was surprised that I couldn’t find good statistics for fighting,” explains FightAnalytics founder and CEO, Fabio de Brito. “So once I realised there wasn’t anything really on the market I started creating my own mathematical model, here in my home.”
De Brito started watching fights in slow motion, he tells me, “so I can literally scout every move.”
After six months of trial and error he came up with a new model, capable of generating 3,000 pieces of info per fighter, per fight. A journalist by trade, de Brito’s passion for MMA – and side-job as an Muay Thai instructor – gives him access to in-fight acumen that others are willing to pay good money for.
“One of the hardest parts of doing statistics for MMA and combat sports, is the lack of tangible events,” de Brito continues. “In football, basketball or baseball, hitting a ball of scoring a goal is tangible, but in MMA nothing is.
“Even a very experienced fighter will struggle to really know if their strike has connected. Only the one being struck can really know.”
Yet such events need to be quantified for true statistics to be generated: what is a landed strike, and from which position is it truly significant to the outcome?
“I knew I had to solve this issue,” says de Brito. “So every time I faced the problem I came to my gym and asked my pupils to punch me in the face, in the belly, elbow me and so on. And all from different positions, so I can work out from this position it would be a significant strike, but from another position it would not be significant strike.
“I spent a lot of my time getting punched to see which strikes are really significant.”
The process may sound archaic, but the results have been fawned over by those who matter, and the company has started to snowball.
FightAnalytics is already the official supplier of statistics to Brazil’s leading broadcaster, numerous leagues such as California’s Combate Americas, and even USA Today, one of the largest media outlets in US. By popular demand, the company has just finished its first API. These successes have caught the attention of the betting industry, and more recently de Brito has been in talks with some for the big names in odds and data – CG Technology, Don Best and Betradar among them.
“In the last couple of months we’ve received a lot of validation for our product,” he adds. “The market seems very impressed with what we’re doing, the way MMA is growing worldwide and how MMA betting is growing as well. So we’re very confident about this next step.”
The sport still doesn’t attract as much betting as boxing does, he explains, “but things are changing.”
The MMA fanbase is much younger than boxing, but “they’ll come into more money as they get older.”
In any case, de Brito is confident that his models can do a better job at stats than are currently available for boxing. “To be honest, our scouting is better. Others are only scouting the number of strikes – not even if the strike was landed, or if it was strong. You’re not going to be able to do much with that.”
Crucially, de Brito assures, his data is “definitely sophisticated enough” to create odds for inplay betting.
“The companies we’ve spoken to say they’re putting a lot of effort and investment into their MMA product, partially because Europe is starting to enable inplay betting for MMA. In the US inplay is not as common, it’s not that popular yet, but that’s also changing. It takes public awareness as well, because they need to understand the inplay events too, in order to make a bet.”
Potential deals could see Fight- Analytics partnering with the likes of Betradar, to work on odds compilation together. Others might simply want to be supplied data so they can make their own odds, to predict the outcome of fights, or to use in live trading.
Whatever deals are struck, de Brito is committed to compiling odds himself. “We haven’t created odds yet, but it’s in our road map to do this year,” he explains. “And it’s not just MMA. We’re really passionate about combat sports so we want to use our models to cover boxing, kickboxing, jiu jitsu, karate. We can do stats and compile odds for all of it.”
The upcoming fight between MMA champion Conor McGregor and the boxer Floyd Mayweather is estimated to attract over $30m in wagers, in Nevada sportsbooks alone.