MMA Betting Guide: Ins and Outs of Wagering On Mixed Martial Arts
Welcome to the SharpSide Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Betting Guide. If you’re interested in the MMA, you’re likely interested in betting on it. In the least, understanding how MMA betting works will help you better understand the sport, its competitors, and the fights. That’s what our MMA betting guide is for.
MMA has always been a progressive sport, both in terms of the competition itself and how it views the world of gambling. It’s rare that you find MMA content that is analyzing a fight or tournament without referencing the betting odds. It’s not just for entertainment purposes, either. The use of betting odds in MMA helps viewers, no matter how casual of diehard they are, understand the matchups better.
Simply put, MMA and gambling go hand in hand. The MMA industry continues to flourish, regulated and legalized sports betting becomes more and more available, and together the two have helped each other grow.
Why can MMA betting be profitable?
MMA betting can be profitable, there’s no doubt about it. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Less mature odds: Although the sport has exploded in popularity, largely because of the growth and notoriety of the UFC, MMA can still be perceived as newer to the sports scene when compared to sports like football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Because it’s newer, oddsmakers have yet to fully fine-tune the betting odds as much as they have in those other sports that oddsmakers have more experience setting lines for. Of course, bookmakers are in operation because they’re good at what they do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some advantageous betting odds for MMA.
- Props: One area of MMA betting to look for advantageous odds is with props. The moneyline prices on who is going to win a fight will be more dialed in than some of the more exotic wagers on offer. Make sure to take a look at the props for an MMA fight, because that’s where some value can be earned.
- Fade the public: There’s no denying that MMA is popular and that people love to gamble on it. Sportsbooks do what they can to get even money on each side of a betting line and this can allow you to take advantage of the public. The experience level of the common MMA bettor is less than with other sports, as there’s less information out there and people have been betting on MMA for not as long. The public loves to bet on MMA, though, and they’ll often take some quick tips from a friend or talking head, or pick the popular favorite, big-name, or feel-good story. When an overwhelming amount of public money is coming in on one side, a sportsbook will likely want to offer more favorable odds to the other side in order to balance the action, and these favorable line moves can be your friend.
Common MMA bet types
The most common types of MMA wagers are moneyline/match bets on who will win a fight, over/under bets on the number of rounds a fight will last, and parlays. If you’re familiar with sports betting in general, then you will find yourself understanding moneyline, over/under, and parlay bets in MMA rather easily.
A moneyline bet (otherwise known as a match bet) is a bet on the outcome of a fight, with odds given for each side of the matchup. Just as you’d place a moneyline wager on a football or basketball game by simply picking one team to win over the other, with an MMA moneyline bet you’d pick one fighter to win over the other.
MMA moneyline bet example:
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (-170)
- Conor McGregor (+140)
In this example, the odds you’d receive by betting on Khabib Nurmagomedov would be -170. That means Nurmagomedov is the favorite, denoted by the minus sign (-) next to the price. For this price, you’d have to bet $170 to win $100. Conor McGregor is the underdog, denoted by the plus sign (+), and a bet of $100 would pay $140 if McGregor won.
An over/under (otherwise known as a total) bet is one where you are betting on a fight’s length. In football, basketball, or baseball, an over/under or total would have you betting on if the total number of points or runs scored is over or under a certain amount. In MMA, you’re betting if a fight will go shorter or longer than a certain amount of time, generally given in rounds.
MMA over/under example:
- Over 2.5 Rounds (-125)
- Under 2.5 Rounds (+105)
In this example of an over/under bet, you would decide if you want to take over or under on 2.5 rounds for the fight’s length, with the over being favored due to the -125 odds.
An MMA parlay is the same as a parlay when betting other sports. It is by pairing two or more bets together for a chance at hitting a better payday. Keep in mind that when betting a parlay, one must hit all legs of the parlay for the entire parlay wager to be determined a winner.
MMA parlay example:
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (-170)
- Under 2.5 Rounds (+105)
Using the previous two examples and turning them into a parlay, one could bet Nurmagomedov to win the fight at -170 and for the fight to last less than 2.5 rounds, so the under at +105. Using these two odds, the parlay payout would calculate to +225, so if you bet $100, you’d win $225 for a total payout of $325. But remember, you must hit both legs of the parlay for the bet to win.
Additional MMA wagers
As MMA and betting grow in popularity and become more widely available, more wagering options have become available as well. Additional MMA wagers that can usually be found include bets on which fighter will win each round and how each fighter will win, with the latter being commonly referred to as a method-of-victory bet.
MMA round betting
With MMA round betting, sports bettors can place wagers on specific rounds, just as one would do in boxing. This is also similar to football or basketball when betting on quarters or halves of a game.
Bettors can wager on a specific fighter to win a specific round, or sometimes bet if a specific round will end in a draw. For example, you might be able to bet Nurmagomedov to win in Round 2 with odds given to handicap the outcome.
Some sportsbooks offer live round betting, allowing gamblers to place wagers on upcoming rounds in the middle of a fight. These live MMA wagers are generally made in between rounds when the fighters are in their corners preparing for the next round.
MMA method-of-victory bet
One of the most entertaining types of MMA bets is the method-of-victory wager. With these, bettors can attempt to pick how a fighter will win. This takes things a step further than the simpler moneyline bets that can be made.
Using the Nurmagomedov-McGregor fight example, with method-of-victory bets you’d likely be able to select if either fighter will be by knockout, submission, or decision. The odds for each will likely differ, as each fighter has different strengths of combat.
Common method-of-victory bet types are inside the distance (otherwise known as ITD), knockout (KO), submission, and decision. An ITD wager is one that says a fighter will win before the fight completes all rounds and goes to a decision by the judges.
Sometimes, sportsbooks offer bets on the type of decision that determines the outcome of a fight. A unanimous decision is a decision where all of the judges agree on the winner. A split decision is a decision where two judges score the fight in favor of one fighter and the third judge scores it in favor of the other. A majority decision is a decision where two judges score the fight in favor of one fighter and the third judge scores it as a draw.
Tips for betting on MMA
We’ve covered why MMA betting can be profitable and the common bet types available. Now, let’s get into some MMA betting tips that can help you become a more seasoned bettor.
- Understand the odds and public perception: As we mentioned when discussing why can MMA betting be profitable, sportsbooks and oddsmakers are commonly looking to balance the money bet on both sides of a wager and public sentiment can force the line to be adjusted in an effort to make things more even. Understanding how this works and how public perception plays into betting prices can help you. There are resources available to help you see what side of a bet is the public side and then you can go about determining if a price is right. Sometimes you’ll have an idea of what side you want to bet on but the price for the other side is simply too good. At the end of the day, it’s important to understand how MMA betting odds are made and how the public’s tendencies affect those odds.
- Pay attention to line movements: Along the same lines as understanding the betting odds and public perception, it’s important to pay attention to line movement and why a line is moving a certain way. When you understand why a line is moving, such as it can do with public money flooding the market, you can better determine if a price is where and where the sharp money is. Paying attention to line movement can also help you try and figure out where the odds may close at. From there, you can determine if you place a wager early or late in order to get the best price.
- Line shop: Line shopping is also a way to get the best MMA betting odds you can find. With the growth of regulated sports betting in the U.S., there are more legal sportsbooks than ever. There should be no excuses for not line shopping to get the best price possible. Price differences may seem like only a few points, but those points add up in the long run, so when you can, shop around for the best odds.
- Do your research: MMA may not be the most talked-about sport in the world. If you check out any sports media outlet, you’ll likely see them discussing the NFL, MLB, or NBA before they even touch on MMA. That doesn’t mean there isn’t information out there to help you research who to bet on. Just because MMA isn’t on the front page of every website and newspaper in the country doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of MMA betting content to consume. If you read further, we’ve listed a few of the best MMA betting resources, plus we added some of the best social media follows that help you stay in the know. Do your research.
- Styles make fights: It’s important to look past a fighter’s name and look at the style and technique the fighter brings to the Octagon or ring. Certain fighters perform well against other fighters because of the stylistic matchup. If a fighter’s style a good offensive or defensive matchup for the opponent? That’s an important question to answer when looking to place an MMA wager.
- Be selective: Don’t force yourself to bet on an MMA card just because it’s the “card of the year” or has a couple headlining names as the main event. Be selective, do your research, and make a decision if it’s worth it or not to place a wager. Don’t just bet because everyone else is betting. Selectivity is also important when it comes to full cards. You don’t need to bet every single fight on a card, and you don’t need to pick every single prop bet available. Again, be selective with your wagers and focus on the few bets that you have done the most research on and have the most confidence in.
Best MMA betting resources
Although MMA and betting go hand in hand, there tend to be fewer resources available than one would be able to find if searching for information and advice on how to bet the NFL or NBA. That isn’t to say the material isn’t out there, though. You just have to know where to look.
RotoGrinders MMA Premium
One of the first places you should start is the RotoGrinders MMA Premium section. Now, we know what you’re probably thinking. What does daily fantasy sports (DFS) information have to do with sports betting? With MMA, the resources are very similar. When playing MMA DFS, you’re looking to pick winners in a lot of cases and that can translate well to the betting space. The analysis you get from an expert such as SharpSide and RotoGrinders MMA guru Brett Appley can apply to both DFS and MMA sports betting, and you’d be silly not to consume all of the great content Appley is supplying.
From a RotoGrinders MMA Premium subscription, you’ll receive comprehensive fight breakdowns, projections, expert rankings, strategy advice, and access to MMA Premium chat.
SharpSide MMA Betting First Look
Allow us to toot our own horn for a second, but the SharpSide MMA Betting First Look is a great column leading into a fight card that helps to identify why the odds are set at a certain price, how the line movement can be categorized, and where the money is likely flowing. This information can be vital in helping you determine the best wager to place for an upcoming MMA card.
In today’s world, social media can be considered a king. Oftentimes, news hits social media before it hits anywhere else, especially on Twitter. Because of that, you’ll want to be sure you’re following all of the top MMA insiders so you know the second news breaks in order to act, or wager, accordingly.
- Brett Appley – Lead MMA analyst for SharpSide and RotoGrinders
- Ariel Helwani – MMA journalist, currently working for ESPN
- UFC – Top MMA promotion company
- Bellator – MMA promotion company
- MMA Junkie – News and media outlet covering the UFC and all things MMA
- Sherdog – News and media outlet covering the UFC and all things MMA
- Bloody Elbow – Official MMA blog of SB Nation
- MMA Fighting – Website for news and media covering all things MMA
- Dana White – President of the UFC
- Joe Rogan – MMA commentator and analyst
- Chael Sonnen – Retired MMA fighter turned analyst
- Dan Hardy – Retired MMA fighter turned analyst
- Dominick Cruz – FOX and UFC color commentator and analyst
Be sure to check back as we update this page with more MMA betting information that can serve as a guide to all MMA sports bettors out there. We hope this MMA betting guide helps you cash in big.