Throughout this guide, we will look into all the markets involved within MMA betting and look into how they can best be exploited. Mixed martial arts (MMA) have really entered mainstream betting in recent years with stars such as Connor McGregor being among the most famous athletes in the world.
Bookmakers are now taking the sport more into consideration, especially with UFC betting for all main events. Leading to the question, how can we make money betting on MMA?
MMA Betting Explained
Before you place a bet on MMA, it is essential that you know how the MMA betting markets work. You are likely to be familiar with a lot of this if you are an MMA fan but what ultimately interests us is how the structure of a fight impacts our betting.
MMA Cards & Fights
Like boxing, an MMA fight can in theory be over in seconds. Therefore it is essential that promoters have a few fights on the card for an event in order to ensure that customers receive some value for money. This is especially true for major pay-for-view fights on television. The quality of the card will be greatly impacted by the money being brought in by the main event. It is quite common for up-and-coming fighters to be first on the bill against someone who they should quite easily beat. While fights later in the card should be more competitive and can even be in the form of title fights. The final fight of the night will be the main event.
MMA Betting Lines
MMA betting lines is a form of wagering where a Sportsbook determines the favorite and the underdog for a fight. This type of wager is only available when there is a possibility of only two outcomes occurring. In the case of MMA fights the fighter with a + sign will be considered the underdog while the fighter with the - sign will be considered the favorite. These odds are only represented like this when you are using a site that uses American odds.
MMA Betting Odds
MMA betting odds in theory at least are meant to represent the probability of an outcome occurring. The clearest example of this in an MMA fight would be the chances of a fighter being victorious. For example, if you believe that a fighter would win a particular fight 9 out of 10 times you should only bet on this outcome if the odds represent good value.
Bookmakers & Exchanges
When you place a bet on MMA through a bookmaker you will be betting with fixed odds. This means that when you place a bet, what you are set to win will not change, regardless of what happens at a later date. This is the most traditional form of betting and will be offered by all bookmakers.
An exchange site is very different as users of the site will have two options. They can either place a back bet, where you will be betting on an outcome to occur against odds that have been set by other users or alternatively, users can also place a lay bet where they will be betting against an outcome to occur. Exchange sites are much easier sites to implement a strategy on.
In-play MMA Betting
In-play MMA betting can be very rewarding but if not used with caution can be extremely risky. In a matter of seconds, the fight can be over and your bet would be over so knowing at what moment to place a bet is crucial. The best time to do such a bet will be between rounds as this way you can take advantage of some of the volatility and hope to catch odds that represent real value.
Types of MMA Bets & Markets
MMA fights are almost always a part of a boxing promotion that offers several fights on the night. You will of course have the option to bet on multiple fights that take place in the evening. Not all of these fights will be covered by bookmakers due to the nature of fighting at the lowest levels.
Example - Fighter A and Fighter B to win their respective fights: Odds, 4.0: Stake, $100. If you were to place a $10 bet on the outcome of these two fighters winning this respective fight you would return $400 if the bet was successful. This would leave you with a profit of $300.
This type of wager can also be referred to as an outright winner bet where quite simply, you are betting on who will be the winner of the fight.
Example - Khabib Nurmagomedov to win: Odds, 1.3: Stake, $100. If you were to place a $100 bet on the outcome of Khabib Nurmagomedov winning this fight you would return $130 if the bet is successful. This would leave you with a profit of $30.
Handicap & Spread Bets
Handicap betting on the MMA is a lesser-known bet but one of our favorites. This refers to the point system that will take effect when the fight goes the distance. You can bet on a fighter to win the fight with a margin for error. a + sign would mean that the fighter can lose within the points specified and still result in a winning bet, while a - sign would mean the fighter has to win the fight by more than the points allocated. If the fight ends in a knockout then your bet will be paid out if you selected the winner.
Example - Connor McGregor to win the fight: Handicap, -2.5, Odds: 2.0, Final Result: 90-87. The bet above means that McGregor needs to win the fight by 2.5 points or more. In this scenario, he has won the fight by 3 points making this bet a successful one.
In MMA fights it is possible to bet on which round you think the fight might finish in. You will receive a better payout if you were also to predict who will be victorious in the fight.
Example - Anderson Silva to win in the second round: Odds, 3.5: Stake, $100. If Anderson Silva were to win the fight by the method of stoppage you would return $350 from a stake of $100. This would leave you with a profit of $250.
Method of Victory Bets
There are a few ways in which an MMA fight can come to its conclusion. A fighter can win by knockout, on points if the fight goes to the distance, by submission, or by the method of disqualification. The latter not being an option to bet on with the vast majority of bookies.
Example - Fighter A to win by method of knockout, Odds: 1.4, Stake: $100.
Fight to Go the Distance Bets
UFC fights are made up of three rounds. If the fight goes the distance the match will only last nine minutes. The style of the fighters will have a huge impact on the likelihood of a fight going the distance.
Example - The fight to go to round 5, Odds: 6.4, Stake: $100. If you were to place a bet on the fight to go the distance with a stake of $100 you will be set to return $640. This would leave you with a profit of $540.
Money Line Bets
Money line bets in the MMA occur when you are using American odds. A - sign will indicate that a fighter is an underdog for the fight. The number that follows the - sign indicates how much money you will need to stake in order to win $100. On the other hand, a + sign indicates how much you would win with a stake of $100
Example - Zhang Weili, Moneyline Odds: -300. In this scenario, if you wanted to win $100 from this bet you would have to stake $300 on Zhang Weili to win the fight.
MMA Props Bets
An MMA prop bet refers to something specifically happening within a fight. This would be something like the number of punches a fighter throws or could even be something as silly as what color shirt a particular fighter will wear when walking to the ring. As you might imagine we don't like bets of this nature but there are some bets that offer good value.
Example - Kamaru Usman to win the fight in the second round by method of submission: Odds, 4.0, Stake: $100. If you were to stake $100 on Kamaru Usman to win by the method of submission in the second round you would return $400. This would leave you with a profit of $300.
MMA Organizations To Bet On
MMA organizations did not share a prominent name in the market until 2007 when UFC, the biggest MMA organization, merged with Pride FC and acquired WEC alongside Strikeforce during a period where there were not as many competitions.
Ever since 2007, there have been over a hundred promotions and a plethora of events surrounding MMA. This has resulted in the ever-increasing popularity of the sport.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
UFC is without a shadow of a doubt the top-tier MMA organization with top-ranking fighters. In fact, UFC is the largest MMA organization that features arguably all of the elite MMA fighters. UFC is owned by Endeavor Group Holdings alongside several well-known sponsors such as Silver Lake Partners, MSD Capital, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. UFC hosts several worldwide events, and as of 2021, they have hosted over 600 events all over the world.
Some of the best UFC fighters of all time include Georges Saint-Pierre, Henry Cejudo, Jon Jones, and Stipe Miocic.
For gambling, there is no market more fluid than the UFC betting markets. Tens of thousands of people wager on UFC fights so bookmakers tend to focus on the UFC mostly. Other organizations get very little visibility in land-based and online sportsbooks.
Bellator MMA was founded in 2008 and is based in California. ViacomCBS acts as the owner and operator of Bellator MMA. Since its establishment, the Bellator MMA has become one of the largest mixed Martials organization in the world, hosting over 200 events.
Some of the well-known Bellator fighters include Yoel Romero, Anthony Jackson, Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, and Michael "Venom" Page. Other notable fighters such as Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez are also popular amongst fans. Bellator has recently launched kickboxing events, and a reality series called Fighter Master among several others.
The Invicta Fighting Championship is an all-female fighters MMA organization based in the USA. It is owned and operated by Anthem Sports And Entertainment Inc. Invicta FC was established in 2012 by the former Vice President of Blackeye Promotions, Janet Martin, and has since then become one of the leading MMA organizations in the world hosting over a hundred schedule events.
Most notable Invicta fighters include Lisa "Battle Angel" Verzosa, Kanako Murata, Karina Rodriguez, Vanessa Porto, Erin "Cold Blooded" Blanchfield, Pearl "Chi-Town Princes" Gonzalez, and Miranda Maverick among other well-known female fighters.
Formerly titled as ONE Fighting Championship, ONE FC is the leading MMA organization based in Singapore consisting of Muay Thai and Kickboxing professionals. ONE FC was founded in 2011 by Chatri Sityodtong and the former senior executive of ESPN Star Sports Victor Cui. Since its foundation, ONE FC became the largest MMA organization in Asia, hosting over several hundred events across the region since its debut in 2011.
Some of the most notable ONE fighters include Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson, Angela Lee, Victor Belfort, Brandon Vera, and Shinya Aoki among other famous fighters.
Most Effective MMA Betting Strategies
Betting on the MMA is not like betting on any other sport. Factors that will determine how the fight plays out may not be immediately obvious to the layman but after reading this list you should have a better understanding of what to look out for prior to placing a single MMA bet.
Don't bet on all fights on the card
To find success with betting you need to choose quality selections with odds that are somehow in your favor. This is not easy to do and it will be extremely unlikely that this situation will occur for every fight on an MMA card. Therefore we should only bet on a selection if we classify it to be a value bet.
It is also important to note that the fight industry at the lower levels is heavily orchestrated to be in one fighter's favor. This is because a fighter and his team don't want to ruin their career before it has begun. The bookies are aware of this and are highly unlikely to offer good odds for matches on the lower cards.
Study each fighter's statistics and recent form
Assessing Form in the MMA is not like assessing form in many other sports as a loss in a fight industry is a much bigger deal as a few losses mean that top fighters will be forced to consider retirement while other fighters will be destined for a career of the middle of the road fights.
Meaning, you must carefully consider the aspects of a loss as well as the nature of a victory. Was it convincing? Was the fighter not prepared and has since learned from his mistakes? We personally recommend Sherdog.com and UFCstats.com as some of the best sites to get quality data from.
It is also a good idea to become accustomed to which journalists, commentators, and experts are the ones in which always seem to hit the nail on the head. Not all organizations are the same as some purely base their action on entertainment and the talent they hire represents this. Search for people who have a passion for the sport and really do know what they are talking about.
Engage in MMA betting forums
If you really want to take betting on MMA seriously, it would be a good idea to join subreddits, online forums, etc. Ones that don't just focus on betting, but ones that are purely for the love of the MMA. This way you will get to expand your knowledge of the sport and attempt to understand the small details that can go into deciding the most likely things to occur.
To find success in MMA betting it is likely that you will need to employ a betting strategy and can be created in some part by what you will read on these forums. What is written here will either confirm your own theories are have the potential to change your mind or even enlighten you which will have a significant impact on your likelihood of success.
Follow the hype, or go against the current?
You can't always go against what people expect, but you can't either always follow the hype... Each fight you want to bet on must be scrutinized (coaches, fighters, stats, previous upset, fighting styles, and so on). Don't "always" do anything, each bet is unique and requires a lot of work to be perfectly valued and evaluated.
Also, using social media platforms such as Twitter to be informed would be a bad idea since what often occurs on these sites are 'straw arguments'. Meaning that they will use generic statements that appear to be perfectly logical but have no interest in delving into the nuance. For example, one fighter might be unbeaten while the other has lost his last two fights. Many would say look at the facts but maybe there is reason to believe that this fight is different.
Do your research and don't just follow the hype train as MMA has characters that create the image of invincibility but as we all know this is never the case.
Set the antics and drama aside
Fighting and combat sports tend to come with a lot of pre-fight drama in the build-up of the night. Most likely to increase pay-per-view numbers. So don't make too many decisions based on these headlines.
Connor McGregor has arguably built his brand on these antics and his arrogance and brashness can easily convince the public that there is no way he can lose his upcoming fight. However, his record alone can detest that this is certainly not the case. Remember that MMA is an extremely violent sport so everyone that competes is unlikely to be that intimated by a war of words.
Pay attention to MMA fighting styles
More than in boxing, MMA comes with a huge range of fighting styles. For example, some fighters like to grapple and the chances of them winning by the method of knockout is extremely unlikely. While other fighters will have a more direct, combative style which means they are will be looking for that single blow to win the match there and then.
Styles make fights in the MMA and this needs to be considered when placing a bet. If a fighter is considered to be a submission specialist and the best in the world his least threatening opponent would arguably be someone with a very similar style. This could mean that a particular fighter might prefer to fight someone with a superior record but with a style that completely suits them.
Another example of a fighter's style determining the fight would be when two knockout specialists are fighting against each other. In this scenario, it is not the most likely scenario that the fight will go the distance. Overall, the style of the fighter accounts for everything in MMA.
Follow latest injury and training news
MMA is a violent sport so if a fighter goes into a fight not feeling 100% fit you can imagine the effect this must-have on his psyche and ultimately his performance.
On a similar note, the training process a fighter goes through is intense and will differ from fighter to fighter. If you have reason to believe a fighter's trainer camp will make him perform better than he ever has done before then this would represent a great opportunity to seek out if there are any value bets on the market.
MMA Betting: FAQ
Answers to the most common questions about betting on mixed martial arts.
Can betting on MMA be profitable?
Betting on MMA fights can definitely be profitable but your success will be dependent on many factors. If these factors work towards you choosing quality, winning selections on a consistent basis then you would end up making money betting on UFC.
What is a line in mixed martial arts betting?
A betting line in an MMA fight simply refers to which fighter is considered the favorite by the bookmaker in question. The money line is commonly only used on American odds but the principles remain true throughout all bookmakers. If there is a + sign after the fighter's name then he is considered an underdog for the fight. If there is a - sign after the fighter's name then he will be considered the underdog.
Is online MMA betting regulated?
Yes, and we urge you to only place bets on regulated bookmakers. This is not just true for MMA fighting but for all sports.
Which MMA organization should you bet on?
The UFC is by far the most popular MMA organization. This means that quality data and statistics will be more readily available. On the flip side, a lesser-known organization might throw up great opportunities
Who to follow on MMA betting?
When trying to discover more about MMA it is good to sign up to a wide array of Reddit forums, youtube channels, etc. This way you will be able to quickly make up your mind in regards to which outlets are the most trustworthy and which ones will help you make money whilst betting.
How much can you make betting on MMA?
How much money you can potentially make from betting on the MMA will be dependent on too many factors to give a generic answer to this question. Your quality of selections and the nature of your betting strategy are arguably the two most important ones though.
What is the best strategy when betting on MMA fights?
There is no single best strategy to employ when betting on the MMA. This guide should illustrate that your strategy should evolve over time as you gain more knowledge and learn from your mistakes.
If you are reading this as a big fan of mixed martial arts, chances are you have already placed bets on MMA fights. But what you need to ask yourself now is, what were my processes for placing such a bet, which logic did you use, and after reading this guide do you think you made a decision you will make again. If you employ expert knowledge of the MMA with a sound knowledge of betting strategies and risk management then you will be on to a winner.