As one of the fastest growing sports on the planet, mixed martial arts (MMA) is quickly taking the betting world by storm. The action is fast paced and explosive, the knockouts are crazy, and the all out wars in the ring give the fans a rush they’ve ever seen before with combat sports. If the rush of watching isn’t enough for you or you’re a bit of an expert, betting on the sport is also growing immensely in popularity. We’ve compiled some great information about the sport, strategies, and specific bets to get you started.
In order to become an expert on any sport, it’s important to know the small details of the sport as well as the major things. Here we breakdown the most important facets of the UFC/MMA so that you will truly be able to say that you know the sport well enough top term yourself an expert. We will also give you the factors you need to know in order to make educated and profitable bets on the fights.
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MMA and the UFC are two completely different things that are commonly mixed up by new fans. MMA, or mixed martial arts, is the actual sport that is being done. UFC, or the , is just one of the many organizations that arrange and put on fights. A great analogy for this is basketball. The sport they are playing is basketball but the NBA is the league in which the pros play. Kobe Bryant doesn’t “play” NBA, he plays basketball and competes in the NBA. Martial artists don’t “do UFC”. They do MMA and compete in the UFC, as well as many other organizations we will get to later.
MMA is exactly what the name says. It’s the mixing of different styles of martial arts. With boxing, fighters are only allowed to use boxing techniques (punching). In Judo, practitioners are only allowed to use approved judo techniques. In MMA though, fighters are allowed to use any and all styles they want so long as they fit within the general rule guidelines. We’ll go into the most common styles later as stylistic matchups are extremely important when understanding and betting on MMA.
Fighters are matched up in a one versus one format for a predetermined set of rounds and time limits. In the professional realm, rounds are typically five minutes in duration. In most non-title fights, contests are scheduled for three rounds and in title fights they are scheduled for five rounds. The reason we say scheduled is that the fight can be stopped at any point and a winner decided by the following ways:
If one of the fighters knocks the other fighter unconscious, the fight is over and the conscious fighter is the victor.
This is similar to the above knockout except that in this situation the other fighter is still conscious but is not intelligently defending themselves. They are effectively unconscious but may still be “awake”. A TKO comes either by the referee, corner man, fighter, or doctor calling an end to the fight. The old “throwing in the towel” phrase would be a TKO.
This is when one fighter traps the other fighter in a position where they are forced to “tap out” to prevent a limb or joint being broken or dislocated or going unconscious.
Certain techniques and rules infractions can result in a disqualification of one of the fighters and an immediate end to the contest.
If the fight is not stopped by one of the above reasons, it is referred to as “going the distance.” At this point, the fight is judged by a three panel group of state officials. Fights are judged on what is called the 10 point must system. This means that winner of each round will automatically receive 10 points and the loser of the round will receive a lower number (almost always a 9). In the event that one fighter significantly beats their opponent in a round, an 8 may be given to the fighter losing the round. Points can also rarely be deducted for rules infractions by the referee. If this happens, it will be announced mid fight, not post.
At the end of the fight, the scores for each round are added up and the fighter with the most points is the winner. Some criticism of this scoring system says it doesn’t do a great job of always judging who really won the fight. That being said, each fighter is aware of the system and should game plan and fight accordingly.
The UFC is definitely the biggest and most prestigious MMA organization in the world but there are several other organizations that you’re able to bet on. These are sometimes not as closely monitored by the betting brains so you may be able to find some great lines! Bellator has been growing in popularity picking up plenty of disgruntled fighters from the UFC. One Championship, Rizen, Tuff N Uff, and Invicta are all currently active promotions growing rapidly in popularity.
As with any sport, there are lots of different options for types of bets in MMA. The most common bet you can place is simply picking the winner of a fight. As there is a winner and a loser always in fights, there is no spread to cover. All bets for a winner are money line bets and bets on the actual score are extremely rare, if not non-existent.
There are also prop style bets when it comes to MMA that betting fans tend to enjoy. The most popular is betting how the fight is going to end, whether by submission, KO/TKO, or by going the distance to a judge’s decision. You can also bet on which round you think the fight will end in. This is a popular bet when bettors don’t think that the fight will make it out of the first round. This can be done on an individual round basis or as an over under.
As opposed to some sports, the “prop bets” in MMA are less of a gamble (like betting the coin toss in NFL) but do take skill into account. If you know a fighter is great at submissions, you might bet that the fight ends by submission. Or if you know someone is a knockout king, you might bet that the fight ends by KO/TKO.
You also have the ability to bet on which fighter will win individual rounds. If you think a fighter is going to come out strong but maybe run out of gas/cardio, you might bet them to win the first round but to lose the second and third. Parlays are also available and typically vary by which sportsbook you use on what you can link together.
Basically, you have pretty much exactly the same betting options as you do with boxing with a few added variations due to the nature of the sport. If you’re new to the sport, betting the basics on who will win a fight is the easiest way to start getting involved. As you get more experience, you can start looking into parlays and some of the other prop bets offered.
Like with any sport you choose to bet, knowledge is power. One of the great things about MMA betting compared to other major sports is that a fight only involves two people. In American football, you have to take into account what is happening with an entire team. In MMA, it’s two people you have to worry about. This allows you to learn a lot more about the individual fighters and make more informed bets and decisions.
Some of the more important things to look at are:
Every fighter has posted who they’ve fought in the past and how they’ve fared. It’s important to look if they’ve faced the same opponent ever and how each of them fared. Also, looking at who has more experience with higher level opponents is important because that fighter should be more comfortable and experience in the ring (doesn’t always mean they will win.)
You can also look at the fighter’s history outside of the ring. If they’ve had recent drug trouble or run-ins with the law, this could affect their performance. If they’ve been popped in the past for steroids and are now trying to fight without them, they may perform significantly worse than their record may show. As it’s such an emotional game, even a tragedy in the family or a breakup can affect the fighter’s focus and mindset.
If you’re around MMA for long enough, you will hear someone say that styles make fights. This is completely true and very important when it comes to developing your MMA betting strategy. Certain styles match up well with other styles and certain styles can be the nemesis of other styles.
For example, if a guy is a phenomenal stand up boxer but doesn’t have a lot of ground fighting training, they’re going to struggle against a wrestler or jiu-jitsu practitioner if they get taken down. On the flip side though, most fighters who are amazing wrestlers or jiu-jitsu experts will have underdeveloped striking skills (not always and becoming less true slowly.) It’s up to you to decide if you think the wrestler will be able to weather the storm on the feet and get the fight to the ground where they want or if they will get knocked out and beat up before they can accomplish that. The more you understand the nuances of the different styles, the better you will be at figuring this out.
To help, we’ve included an intro to the most popular styles further down on this page.
The industry has several household names when it comes to trainers and training camps. A camp is simply a location where groups of fighters will get together to train. Think your local karate school x(times) 100000. Taking a look at who someone is training with to prepare for their fight will help you to access how they will perform. If a guy is training against the best fighters in the world, naturally they are going to get a lot better.
That being said, you need to pay attention to the styles of the fighters someone is training with to prepare for a fight. If a fighter is scheduled to fight a rockstar in wrestling and jiu-jitsu but they train with the world’s best strikers only, they may struggle to combat the ground attack in the fight.
This one is fairly straight forward. that come out of the fighter’s training camps. The MMA community is rather small so rumors get leaked fairly easily. Look for injury updates, strategy notes, or anything that you can use to better pick who is going to win a fight. In other sports leagues like the NFL or the NBA, the pros practice in private locations with only their other professional teammates. In MMA, most fighters train at camps and academies that double as schools for amateurs and hobbyist. That means information isn’t nearly as tightly locked down as it is in other sports. This significantly helps you if you pay attention.
Fights take place all over the world and like any sport, home field advantage is huge. Fighters who don’t have to travel for a fight are already set up in their location and can continue training without the confusions and lost time in transit. The support of the local fans also does go a long way in building confidence which is extremely important in such a high energy, fast-paced sport.
Taking a look at the elevation of the fight location is also important. Higher elevation locations will cause fighters that aren’t used to training there to lose cardio and get depleted of oxygen much quicker. Some fighters will travel to train for this specifically if they know they have a fight in a high altitude location coming. Some don’t though and this should definitely be paid attention to especially if the fighter has any history of cardio issues.
Fighters typically will fight a couple of times a year at most. This is because the sport does take a significant toll on the body and the nature of the sport does include necessary hype time for the media. If a fighter hasn’t fought in a year or more, you should be wary that they may have what is commonly called “ring rust.” This basically means that fighters who are fighting regularly will be sharper and more comfortable in the ring. If a fighter takes an extended break, it may take them some time to readjust to fighting on such a big stage. In a sport that can be over in a couple of seconds, this adjustment time is usually not afforded.
We wanted to point out just a few of the most popular fighting styles you will see in MMA as the more you know about these styles, the more educated bets you can place. There are tons of different styles and variations of these styles used in MMA but here are a few of the most popular to get you started.
The same as traditional boxing, this is basically a style that relies solely on the use of the hands. No MMA fighter that uses boxing relies solely on it but generally speaking, their “hands” or punches are significantly faster and more powerful than the other fighters. Keep an eye on these fighters to be able to finish other fighters on the feet and able to score lightning fast knockouts. That being said, some boxers struggle with ground fighting and are highly susceptible to leg kicks as they are trained to put more weight on their front foot. It gives them more power in boxing where there is no threat to the leg but in MMA it presents a problem.
This is a very classic martial art that is less popular than muay thai (described below) when it comes to complete body striking. Karate fighters are typically very quick but have been criticized for lacking power in their shots. Tell that to fighters like Lyoto Machida though and they might show you a thing or two about power. Karate fighters also often tend to use less-orthodox kicks (spinning kicks, sidekicks etc) that can be effective against fighters who have never seen them before.)
The heart of a ground attack, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is the number one utilized style for ground fighters. With hundreds of chokes, arm and leg locks, and other submissions, it’s a dangerous art for the inexperienced to combat. A lot of strikers enjoying taking fights to the ground for ground and pound but this becomes extremely risky against a BJJ practitioner as one small mistake can result in the end of the fight or your consciousness.
A popular art, wrestling helps fighters to take other fighters to the ground and hold them there. This can be effective to set up jiu-jitsu attacks or simply to employ some effective ground and pound. Wrestlers are also notoriously difficult to take down so they do well against jiu-jitsu fighters that try and get things down to the ground.
This is the premier striking style of most MMA fighters. It’s a combination of kicks, punches, elbows, and basic throws. It’s a historically vicious style and in my personal opinion mixed with BJJ and a little wrestling, the best combination one could have. Muay Thai fighters also train to take significant damage so they’re typically much more durable in fights than some from other styles might be.
Several websites offer the ability to bet live during the fight. Odds will change as things happen in the fight and you can place new wagers during rounds. This is an unbelievably fun way to bet as your skills are put to the test as you have to constantly be reevaluating how you feel a fight is going. Only certain sites have this option and it’s typically not available in any live casino setting as it’s just too fast paced for them to keep up with. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, this may be the betting style for you.
Historically speaking, there have been some kings and queens of the game that you should familiarize yourself with if you want to truly speak the language.
Arguably the greatest male fighter of all time was Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva. Silva defended his title for a record smashing 2,457 days before being beaten my Chris Weidman. The sportsbooks made an absolute killing off of this fight as majority of bets came in on the unbeaten and heavy favorite Anderson Silva.
The greatest female name to date in MMA is Ronda Rousey. Notorious for her vicious arm bar submissions, Rousey seemed unbeatable until she met boxer, Holly Holms. The odds were almost 20 to 1 for a Holmes victory which if you bet $100 would have paid out $2000! Holms was able to beat Ronda’s jiu-jitsu and judo expertise by keeping the fight on the feet and pounding her into defeat.
You’d be shocked how often people still think MMA is staged like wrestling. Yes, it is completely real and the fights are not staged at all. Notice you can’t bet on professional wrestling for a reason.
Nope. We actually recommend that you don’t if your goal is to make money. Just bet the fights that you have a strong pick on. If you’re just looking for fun or you’re an expert and can pick any fight, by all means go for it!
The UFC is typically 1-2 times a month but with the other organizations, there is usually professional MMA on every week.
Reference the recommendations we mentioned above. Typically, the more information you can get on fighters, the more informed decision you can make. Looking at their history, style, and training partners/coaches is probably the biggest areas to get started. This should help you to generate a general idea about who you like and then you can use the other information you collect to fill in the gaps and ultimately make a decision. The best strategy is to start watching and start making a few small best to get the hang of it.
The quickest way to get started is to sign up with one of our recommended online UFC betting sites. You can see our list of the top sites at the top of this page.