A Beginner’s Guide to MMA Betting
Whether you’re an experienced punter or new to the world of online sports betting, you’re going to enjoy betting on mixed martial arts.
MMA is already one of the most exhilarating sports to watch. In mixed martial arts competitions all over the world, two highly skilled athletes will battle each other inside a cage with no teammates and no timeouts. The stakes for every mixed martial artist get higher and higher with every bout, and that’s precisely why more fans are gaining an interest in the UFC, Bellator, and many other promotions.
We appreciate sports due to the unpredictability and excitement, but there’s nothing more unpredictable or exciting than mixed martial arts. Just like boxing, a fight can end at any given moment. One destructive punch to the liver, a spinning back kick to the head, or a tight rear-naked choke can stop the fight in a matter of seconds. This is a primary reason why betting on mixed martial arts has proven to be profitable as it is exciting for MMA experts.
Because mixed martial arts is a relatively new sport, bookmakers are yet to establish ways to accurately predict outcomes using advanced predictive models in the same way they would for a basketball game or football game. This means that bookmakers are yet to lock down on mixed martial arts and remove value from the market. This is why we bet on mixed martial arts.
How to Bet on MMA Online
Thinking about betting on MMA for the first time but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, it couldn’t be any easier. Follow our step-by-step guide below to bet on MMA fights online.
Choosing the Best MMA Betting Sites
The process of selecting a mixed martial arts betting site is incredibly important.
While virtually every sports betting site offers MMA betting markets, not all sites are created equal. One site may offer knockout promotions but low odds, while another may clinch top spot for banking options but disappoint in the customer service department.
Luckily for you, we’ve been reviewing the best betting sites since 2011 and we’ve already done the research and listed our top MMA betting sites for you.
Types of MMA Bets
There’s an option for everybody who wants to bet on mixed martial arts.
Do you want to pick a winner? Go ahead. How about choosing the exact method of victory? There’s a market for that as well. You can even bet on the exact method of victory and the time of the stoppage if you want to boost your odds further.
Here are the most popular MMA betting markets:
Fight Winner (Moneyline)
Arguably the best and simplest way to bet on mixed martial arts is just to pick the winner.
The fight winner market is the most prominent option for punters for a good reason. Most members want to quickly log-in to their favourite MMA betting site and place a bet on whom they think will win the fight. If you’re not concerned with how they win (KO/TKO, submission, or decision), then this is the market for you.
Here’s an example of how the fight winner market looks on our top-rated MMA betting sites:
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
– Khabib Nurmagomedov:
– Conor McGregor: +150
The fight winner market offers up odds for each fighter to win the contest, regardless of the method of victory. In this example, Conor McGregor is considered the underdog and Khabib Nurmagomedov will enter the fight as the favourite.
One of the best aspects of this market is that unlike betting on football, in the case of a “draw” or “no contest” bets are refunded, and you won’t lose a thing!
You can find the fight winner market for every UFC fight (regardless of whether it’s on the UFC Fight Pass Prelims or the main card of a pay-per-view), the main card of every Bellator card, and for significant fights in other high-level promotions.
Remember, all that matters is that your fighter wins the fight!
Total Rounds (Over/Under)
The total rounds market is another excellent way to bet on UFC, Bellator, and other MMA promotions around the world.
Unlike the outright winner market, you won’t need to back a fighter this time. Instead, you’ll have the option to predict whether a fight will last longer or shorter than a time specified by the bookmaker.
Here’s an example of the total rounds market:
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
– Over 2.5 Rounds:
– Under 2.5 Rounds: -120
The bookmaker has set the total rounds line at 2.5 rounds and will now take bets on the fight lasting over or under the midway point of the third round. If a fight ends before 2:30 of round three, that will be marked as under, whereas anything after that time will be classified as over.
This market allows punters to forecast the pace and stoppage potential of every fight. If two heavy-hitting heavyweight fighters are scheduled to fight, you will likely be betting on this fight not lasting very long. Alternatively, most female fights (especially in the strawweight division) make it the distance.
Just like the outright winner market, the total rounds market is a great way to bet on mixed martial arts.
Method of Victory
This is where MMA betting starts to get very exciting.
The method of victory betting option allows a punter to predict the finishing series of a fight. Will one fighter submit the other? Or will that fighter that always wins by decision do it again?
Punters have the option of predicting these various paths to victory and will enjoy increased odds as a result.
Here’s an example of the method of victory betting market:
– Khabib Nurmagomedov to win by KO/TKO:
– Khabib Nurmagomedov to win by submission: +300
– Khabib Nurmagomedov to win by decision: +423
– Conor McGregor to win by KO/TKO: +175
– Conor McGregor to win by submission: +2650
– Conor McGregor to win by decision: +1475
Check out the best promotions
As you can see, the bookmakers will release method of victory odds for both fighters and all potential outcomes. The more likely it is for a result to occur, the lower the odds will be. Interestingly, although Conor McGregor is the betting underdog in the outright winner market, the odds for McGregor to win by KO/TKO are the lowest of all available options in the method of victory market.
The odds for Khabib Nurmagomedov in the outright winner market were much lower than those found here in the method of victory market. A successful £100 bet on Khabib Nurmagomedov in the outright winner market would return just £71.43, whereas a correct prediction in the method of victory market would yield a profit of over £300.
For a punter with an excellent understanding of both fighters and mixed martial arts, this can be one of the most lucrative betting options.
Moreover, if you don’t consider yourself an expert just yet, you’ll probably need to review what constitutes a KO/TKO or submission finish:
- A KO/TKO occurs when a referee stops the contest (while standing or on the canvas), a doctor stops the fight, a corner stops the fight, or when a fighter retires as a result of an injury.
- A submission is the result of a referee stopping the fight due to tap out or technical submission. A fighter can also submit to strikes or submit verbally.
The method of victory market is usually available for every UFC fight and is released a couple of days before every event. Significant fights in other promotions will also have method of victory odds at our top-rated MMA betting sites.
Another way to bet on mixed martial arts is to select what round a fighter will win the fight.
There are multiple options here, and punters will be able to predict the finishing time of the fight or boost their odds further by choosing the time of the finish and the winning fighter.
Here’s an example of the round betting market:
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
– Fight ends in round 1:
– Fight ends in round 2: +300
– Fight ends in round 3: +500
– Fight ends in round 4: +800
– Fight ends in round 5: +1400
You can also further improve your odds by predicting the winner and the time of stoppage:
– Khabib Nurmagomedov wins in round 1:
– Khabib Nurmagomedov wins in round 2: +650
– Khabib Nurmagomedov wins in round 3: +900
– Khabib Nurmagomedov wins in round 4: +1400
– Khabib Nurmagomedov wins in round 5: +2200
– Conor McGregor wins in round 1: +400
– Conor McGregor wins in round 2: +750
– Conor McGregor wins in round 3: +1400
– Conor McGregor wins in round 4: +2400
– Conor McGregor wins in round 5: +3600
If you’re confident about a particular outcome, you’re likely going to want to bet on the round betting option. For example, if you believe that Conor McGregor can knock Khabib Nurmagomedov out in the first round, a bet on “Conor McGregor wins in round 1” might allow you to profit £400 from a £100 bet.
Through our many years of betting on MMA, we’ve found that our opportunities for long-term profits come from betting on the outright winner and total rounds markets while betting only occasionally on the method of victory or round betting options.
Bet on Major MMA Events
With no seasons and a consistently packed calendar of noteworthy fights on a near-weekly basis, hardcore fight fans rarely have a weekend without watching two mixed martial artists battle inside the cage.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) leads the way as the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion, but it’s not the only destination for MMA fans. With the rise of Bellator, Cage Warriors, ONE Championship and many other promotions, fight fans can now bet on major mixed martial arts events almost every weekend.
Here’s an overview of the best MMA promotions you can bet on:
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the leading mixed martial arts promotion in the world today. The UFC has approximately 2-3 regular events and one big-time pay-per-view (PPV) event monthly. The PPV events are stacked with the best and most recognisable names in the sport, such as Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, but even their free-to-air events feature highlight-reel fighters and present lots of betting opportunities.
Read our UFC betting guide to learn more.
Bellator is another excellent option for those who want to bet on mixed martial arts. They have been adding talent to their roster for many years now and have become almost impossible to ignore. Notable fighters include UFC veterans such as Lyoto Machida, Ryan Bader and Yoel Romero. In 2018, Bellator organised the first of many grand prix tournaments. These tournament-style events have attracted the attention of many fans of mixed martial arts fans.
Read our Bellator betting guide to learn more.
Established in 2001, Cage Warriors is Europe’s leading and longest-running mixed martial arts promotion. It has cemented its reputation as a breeding ground for elite-level mixed martial artists and UFC talent. Conor McGregor became a two-weight Cage Warriors champions (featherweight and lightweight) at CW51, then achieved the unthinkable by becoming the first ‘Champ Champ’ in UFC history by holding the featherweight and lightweight titles at the same time.
Founded in 2011 by Chatri Sityodtong with the goal of showcasing mixed martials arts of Asia, ONE Championship has rapidly grown to become Asia’s largest MMA promotion and one of the continent’s largest sports media properties. Former UFC champions such as Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson compete in ONE Championship, with other notable fighters on the roster including Brandon Vera, Angela Lee, Adriano Moraes and Arjan Bhullar.
Understanding and Finding the Best MMA Betting Odds
If you’re new to sports betting, it’s essential that you dedicate some time to learning and understanding betting odds and what they represent.
One of the fastest ways to understand how betting odds are determined is by comparing it to the stock market or popular casino games. As you take on more risk as a punter, the odds and potential payout will increase. Therefore, a bet on the outright winner market will not pay nearly as much as a bet that picks that fighter to win by a particular outcome at a chosen time. As the probability of every option increases, the odds will decrease.
This is intentional, of course. The objective of every bookmaker is to ensure their profitability, so they are never going to boost odds for a favourable outcome willingly.
An Overview of Different Odds Formats
Here are some of the ways that MMA betting odds can be displayed:
- European format (decimal odds, e.g., 2.50)
- UK format (fractional odds, e.g., 6/4)
- American format (moneyline odds, e.g., +150)
In the United Kingdom, you’ll get used to seeing the fractional format on your chosen MMA betting site. If you’re over in Australia, you’re going to be betting with decimal odds. American punters will typically bet using moneyline odds.
What’s the difference?
- Decimal odds show the ratio of the entire payout in accordance with the stake. A successful £100 bet at odds of 2.50 will return £250 in total and profit of £150.
- Fractional odds show the ratio of the amount won from the stake. A successful £100 bet at odds of 6/4 will pay out £250 and a profit of £150.
- Moneyline odds change depending on whether the odds are positive or negative. Positive odds show the amount that a punter will profit if they bet £100, and negative odds reflect the required stake to make a profit of £100.
Fortunately, you don’t need to familiarise yourself with each of these formats. All of the bookmakers that made our list of best MMA betting sites will allow members to change their odds format preference.
The Importance of Understanding Implied Probability
Understanding the odds is a crucial element of betting on mixed martial arts. To beat the bookmakers, you’re going to want to understand the concept of implied probability. While the odds do represent the potential payout for a winning bet, they also represent the implied probability of that outcome occurring as determined by the bookmaker.
That’s why you will receive less money by betting on the superior fighter than you would by betting on the underdog.
You can identify brilliant betting opportunities by comparing your determination of the probability of every outcome against the implied probability that is reflected in the odds.
For example, a punter can calculate the implied probability of the two options in the total rounds market for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor:
– Over 2.5 Rounds:
(Implied probability = 45.5%)
– Under 2.5 Rounds: -120 (Implied probability = 54.5%)
The bookmakers clearly feel like the fight will last less than 2.5 rounds and are therefore offering reduced value to punters who back that option.
By understanding implied probability, you can quickly gain an edge over the bookmakers and stick to making smart and consistent bets on mixed martial arts.
Our Top Tips/Strategies for Betting on MMA
While mixed martial arts betting can be wildly profitable for experts and seasoned punters, it does require great discipline and skill.
Betting on your favourite fighter isn’t going to help you profit in the long-term. Instead, you’re going to need to employ several advanced betting strategies to help you gain an edge over the MMA betting site and start profiting from your online sports betting.
Find Value, Not Winners
The first mistake we notice with losing mixed martial arts punters is that they only bet on the fighter they think is going to win the fight.
If you only bet on who you think will win, you’re going to lose more than you win. As we explained earlier, mixed martial arts can be very unpredictable and that means some major underdogs can score victories and help punters make huge profits.
The objective of every bet should be to select the high-value selection, and not just pick the winner. Now that you have an understanding of implied probability, you should now be aware that value can be identified by finding scenarios in which your assessment of the fight varies to that of a bookmaker.
For example, let’s review the potential UFC Featherweight Championship bout between Max Holloway and Edson Barboza:
– Max Holloway to win:
– Edson Barboza to win: +150
The odds for this fight indicate that Max Holloway has a 60% implied probability to win and that Edson Barboza has a 40% implied probability to win.
If you believe that Max Holloway is going to win, should you go ahead and bet on him right away? No.
What is your real assessment of the fight? How confident are you that Max Holloway will win? Do you believe Holloway has a 70% chance of winning or a 55% chance of winning? That question alone will determine which fighter you should bet on.
If you have great confidence in Max Holloway (70% chance of victory), then you should bet on Holloway to win because your calculated probability is higher than the implied probability reflected in the odds.
Alternatively, if you are not extremely confident about Holloway winning and consider it to be a close bout (55% chance of victory), the correct bet would be to back Edson Barboza because you find him to have a higher chance of winning (45%) than the implied probability of 40%.
This is just one example of how backing against the fighter you think is going to win can still be a correct betting decision.
Research, Research, Research!
If you wish to gain an edge over the bookmakers, you need to conduct comprehensive research.
Our MMA experts conduct their research before betting on mixed martial arts fights by investigating both fighters on Tapology, watching fights against opponents with a similar style, and recent fights in general.
Tapology is the ultimate online database for fight fans. A favourite by many experts and analysts in the industry, Tapology allows a user to review information about the career of almost every professional fighter in the world.
For example, if we want to research how a karate-style fighter handles fighting against a wrestler, we can identify this in their record and then search for this fight online.
This is the best way to determine if a striker has exceptional takedown defence (like Jose Aldo) or they are vulnerable to takedown attempts (such as Francis Ngannou).
Watching recent fights is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of every fighter.
Set Your Odds
Arguably the best way to identify value betting opportunities is to set your odds before you view the markets on an MMA betting site.
If you view the odds for a particular outcome before you research and formulate your own opinion and prediction, these odds can sometimes influence your thinking and create an unwelcomed bias throughout the research process.
We highly recommend the process of writing down your odds for outcomes before logging in and checking the odds.
Ready to Bet on Your Favourite MMA Fighters?
Betting on mixed martial arts (MMA) isn’t just exhilarating; it can also be wildly profitable if you approach it correctly.
We’ve outlined the advanced strategies and techniques we use to beat the bookmakers, and now it’s time for you to apply this same knowledge and cash in by betting on your favourite MMA fighters at one of our recommended sites.
Not for everyone. It requires great discipline and skill to profit from betting on any sport. We have outlined three of our advanced strategies that you can use to beat the bookmakers and profit from betting on mixed martial arts.
Of course. Many of our top-rated MMA bookmakers will release odds for Bellator fights, as well as fights in the UFC, Cage Warriors, ONE Championship, and other major promotions around the world.
Betting on mixed martial arts is not too risky for any reasonable punter. Yes, any well-timed punch or submission can end a fighter in a matter of seconds, but that’s precisely why betting on MMA is an overwhelmingly exhilarating experience.
The underdog is the fighter who is perceived to have the lower implied probability of winning the fight. The odds will be higher for the underdog and punters will receive a higher payout for a successful bet on the underdog.