Under the leadership of Dana White, the UFC has become more and more popular over the years, with the organisation having sold for $4bn in 2016. Amateur MMA has also thrived across the world, making MMA and UFC betting a popular pastime.
For advice on betting strategy, see our comprehensive guide on how to bet on MMA and the UFC. Before you look deeper into the specifics of what to wager on, though, it’s important to know the basic bet types you will face in MMA.
As with all US sports, in an MMA bout between two fighters, you can bet on the money line in a straightforward wager on who will win the match. Unlike American football and basketball, which focus on point spreads, MMA betting is closer to baseball betting in that the money line is its main market.
Unless two fighters are too close in ability to separate, you will traditionally have a money line favourite and money line underdog. And unless two fighters are seriously far apart in ability, a favourite’s odds will generally range from -110 to -250, with an underdog’s odds usually ranging between +100 to +200.
Money line markets will be offered by all sportsbooks that offer UFC betting. Some sportsbooks will not offer other markets on MMA, so money line betting will usually be your best shot at having some skin in the fight.
Example: Pedro Munhoz is fighting Frankie Edgar and Munhoz is a -240 favorite with Caesars Sports. The same sportsbook is offering Edgar at +200. If Edgar wins, a $10 bet earns you a $30 payout: $20 in winnings plus your $10 stake back. If Munhoz wins, a $10 bet earns you a $14.17 payout: $4.17 in winnings and your $10 stake back.
In UFC and MMA betting, you can also wager on how a fight will end. This is because there are three different outcomes: knockout, submission and decision.
Fighters who are better with their striking may be likelier to win via knockout, while better wrestlers are likelier to win via submission. In a close match that goes the distance, a decision is theoretically likelier. But sportsbooks will take all these things into account when setting the odds for a method of victory bet.
It is important to note that, in a method of victory wager, you do not have to predict which fighter will win. Choosing a winner and method of victory together is possible but, in the standard bet type, you are simply betting on how a fight will end.
As stated, if you are confident of a specific fighter winning a UFC match with a certain method of victory, you can bet on both – increasing your odds but also your chances of the bet losing. However, an insurance bet type to reduce your chances of losing is betting on double chance.
With a double chance bet, you predict the winner of the fight and choose two out of three methods of victory. For example, you can bet on Amanda Nunes to win via KO or decision if you don’t think she will win via submission. That way, if she wins the fight through either of those two outcomes, your bet is successful.
A much more specific bet type is what round a fight will end at. Here, you can bet on whether a fight will end in round 1, round 2 or round 3 – or 4 or 5 if it is a five-round match.
If you are confident you know how long a fight will last, the odds should be relatively long for each selection. But this is because rounds are hard to predict and there can always be an element of randomness (just look at Jorge Masvidal’s five-second knockout in July 2019 and Conor McGregor’s 13-second knockout in December 2015).
For a more advanced wager, some sportsbooks will offer bets on winner, method of victory and round all in one go. However, this is a very specific wager that comes with much higher risk. If you think a fight will go the distance, this would eliminate the need for round betting on that particular wager.
Another bet type that looks at rounds is much less specific: totals betting. In totals betting, the sportsbook will set a line and you have to bet whether the fight will go over or under that line.
In three-round fights, it’s common to see over/under lines set at 2.5, which means you are betting on whether the fight will go the distance or not. In a five-round fight, there will be a wider variance in sportsbook lines.
Over/under betting offers more insurance than specific round betting, as a bet of under 2.5 would win whether the fighter won in the first round or the second.
Like in other sports, you can choose to bet on parlays when betting on MMA or the UFC, which is a combination of multiple bets rather than just one single selection. The easiest and most common way to do this is by wagering on several money line selections.
Fight nights in the UFC will usually have a number of fights, with the main event, several high-profile fights and the undercard. This presents a great opportunity to bet on several fights at once with a parlay.
If you choose to bet a parlay, your odds will increase but your chances of losing will, too. This is because every selection in a parlay has to win for the bet to be successful.
MMA and UFC betting also offers the opportunity to wager on prop bets, which are bets that focus on smaller details of a fight rather than the overall outcome.
A number of different prop bets exist that add a different focus to your MMA or UFC betting experience. These include options like whether the fight goes the distance, or which fight will win the fight of the night award.