Unbeaten 20-year old featherweight Chase Hooper came into UFC 250 looking to further burnish his reputation in just his second UFC fight. The 9-0-1 fighter was facing 31-year old veteran Alex Caceres.
While Caceres entered the fight with a solid 15-2-1 record, he acknowledged that he is viewed as a gatekeeper for up-and-coming fighters. He’s the guy youngsters fight to prove they can take the next step. In this case, Hooper was looking for a win atop the preliminary card to prove he is developing into main card potential.
Instead, Hooper got a lesson in humility as Caceres thoroughly dominated him in a unanimous decision victory. Caceres won 30-27 on all three scorecards after landing double the significant strikes over the course of the evening. Caceres impressed with his striking ability, but also used his veteran savvy to prevent Hooper from taking the fight to the ground where the youngster was hoping to secure a submission win.
Coming into fight week, Hooper opened as a -125 favorite, while Caceres was in at even money. Over the course of the week, money poured in on Hooper to move him to -180 and Caceres to +143. As of fight day, 75 percent of the handle and 81 percent of the total bets. In winning method wagering, 78 percent of handle and 76 percent of bets were on Hooper via submission at +145. Caceres claiming a decision win was +350, with three percent of handle and bets on that happening.
Hooper was getting the most money and bets for all of his potential winning methods. Even without huge favored odds, Hooper was the public darling. Saturday evening showed us that you shouldn’t always doubt the veteran. There are plenty of over-the-hill veterans that are out there just to make a up-and-comer look good, but Caceres is not one of those veterans. It will be something to keep in mind as you consider UFC wagering moving forward.