Former UFC and Strikeforce heavyweight contender (and soon to be UFC contender again) Fabricio Werdum picks Alistair Overeem to defeat Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on Friday. The pick isn't noteworthy other than it's Werdum and he's a top MMA heavyweight. Which lead me to ask the following question: are fighters are better than the rest of us (media or fans) at predicting fight outcomes? I have my doubts.
My guess is that fighters have better tools to make better picks, but don't always make best use of them. Fans, by contrast, don't have the same tools, but often pore over available information with a more discerning eye. There isn't any qualitative data to back up or disprove my claim (none that I know of, anyway). But what is it about Werdum's pick that's uniquely special? From what I can glean after watching this video, very little.
By contrast, watch the following Frank Mir video, you get a sense of how good a fighter's prediction can be when they marry personal experience, technical expertise, the ability to articulate abstract thought and use common historical outcomes:
I'm not here to suggest Mir's prediction is prophecy. Overeem could crack Lesnar within moments of the fight beginning and move on to the title shot. What I'm underscoring is Mir's rare thoughtfulness - the sort of thoughtfulness we typically see from earnest fans or well-read media members. We see it from fighters as well and we know they're capable of it, but in my experience it typically has to be pulled out of them. So, that thoughtfulness can be replicated. What cannot, however, is Mir's personal insight and to a lesser extent, his technical mastery.
Watch this video and tell me anything like that is offered by other fighters. What's especially salient about the analysis?
When media members lazily ask 'who do the pros think is going to win?' the response should be 'which pros? and what are they saying?'. I've seen way too many clever predictions from fans or media to blindly rely on the impromptu conclusions of fighters.
In my defense, here's probably my best public prediction before UFC 116 when I not only predicted Lesnar would beat Shane Carwin, but was really specific why that particular ending would be achieved:
Not in my defense? I also publicly picked Brett Rogers to defeat Alistair Overeem. So, maybe we should ask fighters instead of the rest of us.