MMA has emerged as one of the most popular sports in the United States thanks to the exhilarating entertainment it provides. UFC has soared in popularity over the past decade and it has turned many fighters into household names, including Anderson Silva, Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones and Chuck Lidell. There are also intriguing rival companies like Bellator and ONE Championship bidding to make a name for themselves, so the MMA scene is looking healthy.
A great way to ramp up the excitement that arises when watching a fight unfold is to place a bet on the outcome. Every punch, kick and takedown is suddenly charged with joy or fear when you have a stake in the action. However, betting on MMA can be a bit of a minefield in the blossoming legal sports betting sector. It can be confusing, laden with jargon and bizarre tables of numbers, so we have created an MMA betting guide to help you out. These are the key betting types you need to familiarize yourself with:
This is by far and away the most popular type of wager on an MMA bout and most UFC picks and UFC predictions focus on the moneyline winner. It simply involves selecting the fighter that you think will emerge victorious. US sportsbooks know that millions of Americans love UFC, so they have worked hard to offer betting lines on a number of fights taking place each week.
They hire expert odds compilers who assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of each fighter, taking into account age, experience, height, weight, reach, power, knockout record, wrestling ability, fatigue, injury concerns and more. Once they have examined the fighters’ records and attributes, they will assign a set of odds to each fighter.
For example, Tony Ferguson was installed as the -245 favorite when he fought Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in 2019. He was on an 11-fight winning streak and he had beaten Rafael dos Anjos – a man with two victories over Cerrone – on his last appearance in the Octagon. For that reason, Cerrone was the +175 underdog.
The odds compilers try to make the odds on each fighter compelling enough to attract action on both of them. If the majority of bets go on one fighter, they will make the odds less attractive on him and more attractive on his opponent in an effort to spread their risk.
When you see a minus symbol in front of a three-digit number, it tells you how much you need to wager in order to win $100. It means that you would need to place a $245 bet on Ferguson at odds of -245 in order to generate a $100 profit.
If you see a plus symbol in front of a set of odds, it tells you how much you will earn from a $100 bet. A $100 bet on Cerrone at +175 would have generated a profit of $175 if he won the fight. You are certainly not obliged to wager $100. A $10 bet would earn a profit of $17.50, while a $20 bet would earn a profit of $35.
If one fighter’s odds start with a minus symbol and the other fighter’s start with a plus, the one with a minus is the favorite. A $20 bet on Ferguson at odds of -245 would have generated a profit of $8.16, whereas a $20 bet on Cerrone would have generated a profit of $35. The higher potential payout on Cerrone tells you that he is the underdog.
In the end, the odds on Cerrone went down to +150 as he was a popular choice among bettors, but Ferguson secured victory to justify his status as favorite.
Predicting the method of victory allows you to gain greater odds and a higher potential payout. For example, Ferguson was -245 to beat Cerrone and that covered any method of victory – knockout, submission or decision. However, you could find odds of +245 on him winning by KO/TKO.
Instead of an $8.16 profit from a $20, you would have earned a $49 profit. That is a lot more attractive, but your bet would be a loser if he were to win by a decision or submission. Only 11 of his 24 wins had come via a knockout, so it was a risk, but anyone that took it was rewarded, as Ferguson did indeed win by a second-round TKO.
This allows you to bet on which round the fight will finish in. The odds compilers will assign a set of odds to each of the three rounds after weighing up how evenly matched the fighters are, their respective punching power, how prolific they are at knocking out their opponents and so on.
You can bet on a particular fighter to win in a certain round, for example Ferguson in round two or Cerrone in round three. This helps you secure an even greater potential payout, as you are essentially narrowing your prediction down.
Sometimes you might be unsure of which fighter will win a bout. However, you might have a hunch that it will be over quickly or that it will drag on. You can then bet on the fight ending in the first, second or third round, without having to specify which fighter will prevail. Another option is to bet on whether the fight will go the distance – yes or no.
An alternative is to bet on over or under 1.5 rounds in the fight. If you bet on under, the fight has to finish in either the first round or the opening 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the second round in order for your bet to pay off. Once it goes past that 2:30 mark in the second round, over pays out.
You will sometimes see lines on over and under 2.5 rounds too. This is pretty similar to betting on whether or not the fight will go the distance.
If you want to secure the largest potential profit possible, you can specify which fighter will win, which round the victory will come in and the method of the victory. For example, Cerrone by submission in the first round, or Ferguson by knockout in the second round.
If you had Ferguson to win by a knockout in the first or third round of that fight, or to win via a submission in the second round, your bet would have been a loser. It is much harder to succeed with such a specific bet, but the potential reward is much greater.
You can also hedge your bets. For instance, you could have put $10 on Ferguson to win via a second round knockout, $10 on Ferguson to win via a third round knockout and $20 on the fight going the distance. This provides an added degree of insurance, and you can spread your money to ensure that you make a profit if any of those outcomes prove to be correct.
A proposition bet does not necessarily relate to the outcome of a particular fight. An example of an MMA prop bet could be wagering on which bout on a UFC card will be named Fight of the Night, or who will be awarded Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night.
An MMA Parlay is a great option for sports bettors, as it allows you to roll multiple selections into one wager in order to gain a higher potential payout. You will often just see moneyline odds on a particular fight, especially if it is not a high-profile bout.
If one fighter is perceived as clearly superior, you might find odds of -500 on him or her, for example. In that case, a $10 wager would earn you a profit of just $2, and some bettors might decide that it is not worth the risk. With parlay betting, you can combine multiple favorites into one wager and earn a strong payout if they all win.
That is the catch though: each of your predictions must prove correct, and if just one fighter lets you down then your bet is busted and you lose your stake. You can include any MMA bets into a parlay – including round betting, method of victory, will the fight go the distance and so on – but moneyline is the most common.