MMA Betting Guide
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is quickly becoming a mainstream sport, overcoming the initial difficulties of getting a full-contact combat sport out there in front of public eyes. The sport was established as a way to determine the most realistic, or practical, martial art by pitting fighters with backgrounds in contrasting martial arts against each other inside a cage with limited regulation. Since then, many improvements have been made to the way that the sport is regulated, most notably regarding the safety of the fighters, but definitely in regards to making the sport more appealing to a mainstream audience, too.
It’s not typical for a sport to provide so much raw emotion inside a small (often less than fifteen minutes) window of action. MMA feels primal, pure, and exactly what sport should be. This isn’t a game.
This guide contains an overview of the current landscape of MMA and a detailed breakdown of where and how to bet on MMA online.
Best Bookmakers for UFC Betting
The sport of mixed martial arts is expressed differently in some countries and most notably, by organisations. A small number of MMA organisations hold the majority (almost all) of the talent in the sport and therefore dominate the market.
The UFC is the principal force in the world of mixed martial arts, so much that it isn’t uncommon for some to confuse the UFC with the entire sport of MMA. The UFC rose to fame through a combination of attracting the best talent around the globe, aggressive marketing and now, in the modern era, by turning athletes into superstars than grow bigger than the organisation and sport itself – look at Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey!
The structure of the UFC is quite simple, their numbered events are scheduled as pay-per-view (PPV) and are undoubtedly the pinnacle of modern MMA. These events occur approximately every four weeks. In between, and on most weekends, we have UFC on FOX and UFC Fight Night events, which are still stacked with great fights considering the UFC’s insane roster depth.
UFC betting is the most convenient of all mixed martial arts betting, considering that the cards are often confirmed well in advance, and the popularity of the organisation means that bookmakers launch markets and odds early. There’ll also be a wider range of propositions available when betting in the UFC compared to other organisations.
Bellator have recently made huge improvements to their roster by adding ex-UFC up-and-comers such as Lorenz Larkin and Michael McDonald and signing seasoned veterans such as Ryan Bader, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko.
All Bellator events are numbered, and they occur less frequently than UFC events. Bellator 180, which takes place in June 2017, will see Bellator enter the pay-per-view market and we can expect to see a good range of betting options for this event.
Bellator doesn’t attract quite the same popularity from a casual standpoint, and therefore the bookmakers often don’t release odds until within a handful of days before the event takes place.
Betting on MMA
Betting on mixed martial arts isn’t as complicated as many other sports such as football, basketball, or horse racing in which there is a multitude of factors that can influence the outcome. Inside the octagon, the result is entirely dependent on the two individuals.
Our MMA betting strategy should initially be to determine who has the edge between the two athletes. To do so, we must first analyse the style, habits and form of the two opposing fighters. While the octagon is home to some of the most unpredictable outcomes in any sport, fighters often rely on their strengths and form habits based on their relative advantages.
Let’s take Demian Maia, for example, who is one of the most dominant jiu-jitsu practitioners inside the octagon today. His wrestling has grown to the point that we now expect him to be able to take down his opponent before looking for opportunities to secure a submission. For this reason, odds for Maia to win by submission are lower than the odds for a victory via KO/TKO.
When we understand each fighter’s strengths and habits, we can use our knowledge to assist in predicting the winner of a fight, the duration and the method of victory. These three outcomes make up the recommended bet types.
Recommended Bet Types
Outright Winner Markets – Which fighter will win?
The most simple form of MMA betting is selecting a fighter to win outright. Outright markets can be especially valuable when you have a particular ‘lean’ to one fighter who is either valued at even odds or as an underdog.
Total Rounds Betting – How long will the fight last?
MMA total rounds betting is another simple way to find an edge against a bookmaker. Much like total goals markets in football, the bookmaker releases a ‘line’ and two markets for the customer, over or under. By understanding the pace of a fight and the stopping power, we can predict the duration of a fight.
The Method of Victory Betting – Which fighter will win and how?
Method of victory betting in MMA is an excellent way to boost your winning potentials by predicting not only the winner of the fight but also how the fight will end – either by KO/TKO, submission or decision. Betting on the method of victory is an excellent technique to use when you want to bet on the fighter with shorter odds (the favourite) to increase your earnings.
Other Bet Types
Round Betting – Which fighter will win and when?
MMA round betting is often a little trickier than the recommended options listed above, but it is an effective technique when you can feel an edge to a certain opponent, and you have an understanding of the expected pace.
Accumulators / Parlay
Accumulators and Parlay bets are accessible across all sports as a relatively easy way to boost earning potential. If you are confident in some your selections going into an event, but they are heavy favourites and not returning significant value, you should try throwing them into an accumulator and increase the payout.
Personally, I recommend against using accumulators/parlay betting and instead of nailing down on your best selections in a card individually.
Fight Bonus Proposition Bets (UFC PPV Only)
UFC Bonus Betting is an exciting market that has potential to be profitable to those that understand the sport inside and out. Markets are often available for choosing Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night awards in upcoming UFC pay-per-view events. If you’re confident in a KO/TKO or submission victory from a fighter and their Performance of the Night odds are enticing, you may have hit the jackpot!
Best MMA Betting Strategies
Feel confident? Don’t be afraid to increase stake!
Mixed martial arts is a sport like no other. Essentially, it is a strange blend of entertainment and sport. Because of this, there are occasional bouts that don’t make sense from a competitive perspective.
- Remember the time CM Punk made his MMA debut in the UFC against Mickey Gall? Mickey Gall was -120 to win in Round 1.
- Ronda Rousey’s return to the cage was against the extremely hard-hitting Amanda Nunes, and we all know how that one ended. Nunes was +325 to win in Round 1.
- What about when the UFC thought it was a good idea to schedule the ageing BJ Penn against the freakishly good Yair Rodriguez? Rodriguez to win by KO/TKO was -110.
These are all examples of the bookmakers setting vastly different lines to what many would have expected, and therefore we should bet heavy on these opportunities when they arise.
Trust your judgment
Public opinion on sports can be a disaster at times. Once the bandwagon gets rolling, it’s difficult for it to stop. It’s important that you make your assumptions based upon your views, rather than just believing what you read on forums, or what your friends are saying.
The ‘eye test’ is when you make your own observations of an athlete, disregarding what has previously been expressed in the media or elsewhere. It’s easy now, in the modern era, to have already formed opinions of fighters that you have not even seen yet because you have listened to what others are saying.
The public opinion will be factored into the odds by bookmakers as well, so if you feel as though something isn’t quite right – trust your judgment!
Firstly, don’t always feel like you need to bet on the outright winner market. Look for opportunities in other markets such as total round betting or method of victory betting if you are not convinced with the odds set by the bookmaker.
Secondly, don’t always feel like you need to bet on the fight at all. It’s not uncommon to not find value in a fight, and sometimes the bookmakers have it spot on. We are fortunate that there are 10-12 fights scheduled for every event, so you can easily bet on another fight!