UFC 228 turned out to be one of the best cards of the year, one full of highlight-reel knockouts and slick submissions. The card also featured some notable upsets, as four underdogs were able to come through with wins inside the Octagon and at the sportsbooks. They are highlighted in this edition of Beating the Books.
Diego Sanchez (+175)
After two straight knockout losses to Al Iaquinta and Matt Brown, it made sense why everyone was doubting Diego Sanchez against anyone with a pulse. That included a guy like Craig White, who suffered a knockout loss himself in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut to Neil Magny. After seeing how this fight played out, the odds could not have been more wrong. Sanchez used his wrestling to take down White, and he used his cardio advantage to push a blistering pace and dominate him with top position and ground-and-pound for the full 15 minutes. This was a complete beatdown from bell-to-bell, as Sanchez clearly heard the calls for retirement and shut up the doubters with one of his best performances in years. Those who sided with Sanchez were rewarded handsomely, as he was the biggest underdog on the card to cash at +175.
Tyron Woodley (-105)
Looking back now, it seems crazy that UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley was an underdog against Darren Till. Right from the opening bell, he made this fight look easy and showed why he is one of the greatest welterweights to ever fight in the Octagon. After edging out the first round, Woodley stepped it up in the second. He knocked Till to the floor with a big punch and then dominated him on the ground after that. Woodley was able to split open Till’s forehead with some nasty elbows and punches and then latch on a brabo choke for his first submission win in the UFC, defending his title for a third time in the process. Woodley closed as a -105 underdog against Till, who was a slight -115 favorite. It is difficult to envision a scenario in which Woodley is the underdog when he takes on Colby Covington in his next fight. The way he beat Till is going to earn him plenty of respect, so expect him to be a favorite among oddsmakers for the foreseeable future.
Darren Stewart (+150)
One of the best comebacks of the night came courtesy of Darren Stewart, as he survived a tough first round against Charles Byrd to get the knockout in the second. After losing three straight fights and being on the verge of getting cut, Stewart has now won two fights in a row as the underdog, with a knockout win over Eric Spicely in his last fight preceding this brilliant finish over Byrd. Stewart closed as a +150 underdog against Byrd, and depending on who the UFC matches him with next, he could potentially be an underdog once again. Bettors just do not seem to believe in Stewart despite his recent winning streak.
Jim Miller (+155)
Another veteran being written off too soon was Miller, who snapped a four-fight losing streak with a quick first-round submission win over Alex White. It made sense why Miller was the underdog considering he was coming off of a brutal knockout loss to Dan Hooker in his last fight and he was going up against someone with knockout power in White. However, Miller showed there are different levels to this game, as he got White to the ground and finished him quickly. Miller closed as a +155 underdog, providing some nice value for those who backed the veteran in this contest.
Adam Martin is a mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2011. He is currently the lead odds analyst for Sherdog.com as well as the lead staff writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com. Adam is also the co-host of “The Parting Shot Podcast” on iTunes. His favorite fight of all time is Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua and he wishes Pride never died. Adam is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and he is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Centennial College. Get in touch with him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.