MMA Betting Guide

 Mixed martial arts (MMA) has been gaining popularity for the past 5-6 years and is the fastest growing sport in the world. As little as a few years ago it was next to impossible to be able to bet on MMA fights that weren’t on a UFC PPV main card. Today bettors can wager on every UFC fight plus fights from other MMA promotions around the world.

MMA didn’t become regulated in the United States until April 2001 and the regulations that were drafted in 2001 are now the rules and regulations followed throughout all of North America. Mixed martial arts have been regulated in other countries before the US and MMA was actually very popular throughout Asia before many Americans had even watched an MMA fight.

In this guide we’re going to go into detail and show the average bettor how to make money betting on MMA. If you have never bet on sports before and don’t know the 1st thing about betting you should read over our beginner’s betting guide. We aren’t going to walk you through understanding odds or any of the basics and we’re going to get right into the strategy you need to profit.

What MMA Promotions Can I Bet On?

A few years ago you would be lucky to have the chance to bet on the main card of a UFC PPV Event. Thankfully, online sportsbooks have noticed that the MMA betting market is huge and now most MMA fights can be wagered on. Most of the top promotions are owned by the same owners that own the UFC, as the UFC has done a great job at purchasing their competitors.

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
  • Strikeforce
  • Bellator


What Can I Bet On in MMA?

  • Moneyline / Match Bets – Betting on a fighter to win his/her fight outright.
  • Round Bets – Betting on how many rounds a fight will last.
  • Method of Victory – Betting on how a fighter is going to win his/her fight.
  • Prop Bets – Bet on the winner of the fight bonuses for UFC events.
  • Parlays – Combine 2 or more of the bets above on the same wager.


How to Handicap MMA Fights?

If you watch a lot of mixed martial arts already you’ll have a good idea of how to handicap fights without knowing it. Before looking at the odds for an MMA event you should look at the fight card and quickly handicap each of the fights. I recommend using Sherdog to handicap fights, as they keep track of fighter’s records and how every fight is finished.

  • What fighter has the edge while standing up and while on the ground?
  • Where has the fighter been training for the fight and is the fighter dealing with any recent injuries?
  • Did the fighter have a difficult time cutting weight for the fight?
  • Is the fighter currently riding a winning or losing streak?
  • Have the two fighters fought each other in the past or have they fought the same opponents in the past?

Once you answer these quick questions you’ll have a good idea of what fighter should win the fight. At this point you have an idea of what fighters you think will win their respective fight, but that doesn’t mean you’re done yet. The next step is to find +EV bets that offer you value on the betting line and for this step you need to be able to set your own rough betting lines.

The easiest way to set your own lines is with percentages. If you think Nick Diaz has a 60% chance of beating Condit in their fight you would need to now take a look at the odds and convert the current betting odds into a percentage using the formula below. The total % will exceed 100% when adding up the favourite’s + underdog’s chances of winning due to the house vig.

  • Favourites – Amount wagered to win $1 / (Amount wagered to win $1 + $1) = Favourites % of Winning
  • Underdogs – 1 / (Amount won on $1 wager + 1) = Underdogs % of Winning

Let’s say that we were going to bet on the Diaz vs. Condit fight. When I look at the current odds for the fight I can see that the odds for the fight are currently at -200 for Diaz and +170 for Condit. Using the formula that I posted above you can quickly come up with the percentage each fighter has of winning the fight based on the current odds.

  • Nick Diaz – $2 /$3 = 66.66%
  • Carlos Condit – $37.03%

If we thought that Diaz had a 60% chance to win the fight we wouldn’t want to bet him at the current odds of -200 because it isn’t a +EV bet. Now if we thought that Diaz had a 70% chance to beat Condit and the odds were the same we’d definitely want to bet on Diaz at -200 odds because based on your handicapping the odds are giving you an edge of just over 3%.


MMA Betting Tips & Strategy

  • Bettors need to join multiple sportsbooks to make money betting on MMA. Shopping for the best line is important and the only way to get the best line is by having accounts at all of the top MMA sportsbooks. In MMA the odds differ widely and it isn’t rare for one book to have the Diaz odds at -200 with another book having the odds set at -240 for Diaz.
  • You can find some excellent arbing opportunities when betting on MMA as well if you prefer guaranteeing small profits instead of gambling. Since the odds vary so much between books and the odds constantly move it isn’t that hard to bet on a fighter and be able to lock in a profit by betting the other fighter at another sportsbook with better odds.
  • Odds are often posted weeks in advance for big fights and that means that the betting line will move based on how much action is coming in on each fighter. If you notice the opening line was -200 for Diaz and the line jumped to -210 that means action is coming in on Diaz.
  • You need to try and beat the closing line when betting on MMA, which isn’t that hard because the lines move a lot in the days leading up to a fight. If the Diaz line closed at -220 I’d have to have bet on Diaz at -219 or better odds in order to have beaten the closing line on the fight.
  • Spend time reading other handicappers picks, but never let a single handicapper sway your decision to make a bet. If a handicapper you’re following is extremely good or hot at the time you may lay off a bet because of their pick, but I never bet on a fight without doing my own due diligence.
  • Looking at a fighter’s record is important, but make sure you look at recent results as well. If a fighter is 20-4 that may look great on paper, but if you look deeper and see they’ve lost 3 fights in a row the 20-4 record no longer looks as good.
  • When you can’t compare a previous fight between two fighters (Which is often) you need to look at any of the common opponents the fighters have faced. This isn’t a perfect method to handicapping MMA fights, but it’s definitely one angle that you need to look at while handicapping fights.
  • Parlays are often –EV bets that you want to avoid, but not in MMA. Parlays allow MMA bettors the ability to bet on big favourites without having the same exposure as you would when betting on big favourites on straight bets. Never put more than 3 fighters on the same parlay because the house edge begins to reach unbeatable levels.
  • Little time is spent by the bookmakers setting the lines for the UFC prop bets. Betting on the FOTN, SOTN and KOTN in the UFC has become one of my most profitable types of MMA bets. The odds are often in the +500 – +2000 or higher range and if you follow the UFC picking the winner of the fight bonuses in the UFC at each event isn’t too hard.
  • You need to make sure you have a strict bankroll management plan in place. If you’re betting with $100 for fun you may not want to follow a bankroll management strategy, but if you’re serious you should only bet 1%-2% of your bankroll on each bet in order to ensure that a losing streak doesn’t end your betting career.
  • It’s also very important to limit the number of fights you bet on. You may like 6 fighters to win at the next UFC event, but you should try narrowing your picks down to your best bets only where you have an edge. Don’t just bet on a fight for the sake of betting on the fight and never chase your losses with in-play betting while watching MMA.