MMA betting has gained popularity around ten years ago when the sport established one of the fastest growing fan bases worldwide. It even outranked boxing in interest. The fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor broke UFC viewership records at the time, and while the biggest fights still take place on Pay-Per-View, many cable channels have begun to broadcast MMA fights on a regular basis.
The first thing you need to know about MMA betting is that oddsmakers are not as sharp at handicapping UFC fights compared to traditional sports. The fraction of MMA betting action is still fairly small compared to more popular sports like soccer of football, which is great news for smart bettors with knowledge of MMA, as this puts the odds in their favor.
Everything About MMA Odds
MMA odds determine the probability of an event during the match. If you are betting on the favorite the odds might look something like -800, which means you will be paid 1/8th of your original bet if the fighter you pick wins. The underdog will have odds like +550, which means your payout will be 5.5 times your original bet.
UFC odds tend to be artificially higher than what they should be due to the inherent unpredictability of the sport. This doesn’t mean you should avoid betting on favorites, but be very selective when laying down a wager on them.
The real value is in knowing when to bet on underdogs, as upsets are more common than you might think. Most predicted that Ronda Rousey would defeat Holly Holm in 2014. Holm was a big underdog with odds of +600.
What if the fight ends in a draw? This is rare, but if it happens the bet is a push and all stakes are returned.
Over/Under bets are also an option; they consist of the number of rounds a fight might last. Each round is five minutes long, a typical UFC fight is scheduled for three rounds while title fights and main events are scheduled for five.
Sportsbooks will also offer proposition bets for big fights, such as the fight going the distance (not ending in a knockout or submission), the exact round in which the fight ends, whether the outcome will be a KO, etc. These are only recommended to fans that follow specific fighters, to the point that they know all their weaknesses and strengths as if they were their trainers. Predicting a knockout or in what round the fight will end is a real challenge. Statistics play a big role here. You can study past fights and techniques to make the smartest pick. There are many free statistical sites that provide this type of info, like ufcstats.com and our own Fightmatrix records and stats.
Live betting is also an option, a really good one for true fans following the fight live. You can tell which fighter is getting a certain edge during the fight and make better betting decisions. It is easier to predict if the fight will end in the next round or who will ultimately win as the fight goes on.
Fantasy betting is yet another option. The player must select a lineup of different fighters on an MMA card. Each fighter earns points for strikes, position advancements, takedowns, reversals, sweeps, and knockdowns. Fighters are also rewarded for rounds won and decision wins. Each roster must have 5 fighters.
These are more advanced tips for dedicated bettors.
Open accounts on more than one sportsbook, this will allow you to line shop, which means to place the bet on the sportsbook that pays the most for the same bet. Line shopping is a delight with MMA, as odds tend to be very one sided and sportsbooks feature very different odds between each other.
For odds shopping BestFightOdds.com is excellent to find those opportunities. You can look at archive logs of previous fights to see which sportsbook is offering the best odds. The betting blog by 888 Sportsbook has an excellent section on betting previews & tips whenever a big fight will happen.
Most importantly, stay sharp and bet only on those events were you are truly confident of an outcome and be sure to review the latest MMA rankings to find unusual betting opportunities.