Guide to Betting on the UFC / MMA

What is MMA?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), started out as a generic term that covered a sport involving both striking and grappling. Effectively, it is a combination of boxing, wrestling and many other martial arts and the term is believed to have been first used back in 1993 when UFC 1 took place.

In 25 years since the phrase took hold, MMA has emerged to become big business with fights between the best exponents of the game matching the interest generated by boxing. Thousands of spectators in packed halls are backed by millions more who watch on Pay Per View TV services across the world.

In this guide to MMA and UFC, we’ll start by listing the possible methods of victory available to each fighter.

Knockout (KO)

A knockout is declared if one fighter is unable to continue due to legal blows inflicted by their opponent. This method is very distinct to a TKO in the sense that the fighter concerned is clearly indisposed to the extent that he or she will take the decision out of the referee’s hands.

Usually this will mean lying or kneeling on the canvas and not getting up to fight before the end of the mandatory count.

Technical Knockout (TKO)

A technical knockout is different because the decision to end the fight is in the hands of the referee who may initially stop a fight for a number of reasons. If one fighter is clearly badly injured, due to perhaps a bad cut or a visible broken bone, then the bout can be stopped while treatment is sought.

Alternatively, there may be no obvious injury but one fighter has become so dominant that his opponent lacks the ability to defend. Under these circumstances, the referee has the option to stop and end the fight and this decision is referred to as a technical knockout.

Submission

As with most combat sports, a submission in MMA occurs when one fighter decides that he cannot continue due to injury and therefore surrenders the bout to his opponent. This can be signalled by the individual or by his corner, either of whom will make a clear intention to the referee.

Submission markets aren’t always available for MMA betting as it’s quite a rare outcome but it needs to be listed as a legitimate result in its own right.

Disqualification (DQ)

A fighter can be disqualified for a number of reasons both during the fight and prior to stepping into the ring. Technically, that disqualification can come before a punch is thrown if either fighter doesn’t make the required weight.

Once in the ring, there are a number of moves that are considered to be illegal and if either contender contravenes the rules, it is down to the referee to decide whether they warrant a disqualification. These moves include obvious infringements such as head butting, hair pulling, fish hooking, biting, spitting or gouging while others are more subtle including holding on to the fence.

Weight Classes

In MMA fighting there are 14 weight classes, beginning with strawweight which carries an upper weight limit of 115 lb and ending with Super Heavyweight which holds no upper limit.

The full list, with limits, is as follows:

  • Strawweight115 lbs
  • Flyweight125 lbs
  • Bantamweight135 lbs
  • Featherweight145 lbs
  • Lightweight155 lbs
  • Super Lightweight165 lbs
  • Welterweight170 lbs
  • Super Welterweight175 lbs
  • Middleweight185 lbs
  • Super Middleweight195 lbs
  • Light Heavyweight205 lbs
  • Cruiserweight205 lbs
  • Heavyweight265 lbs
  • Super HeavyweightNo Upper Limit

Fight Cards

If you’re not entirely familiar with MMA but have some experience of boxing, there are parallels between the two sports and that’s certainly the case with fight cards. On a night of MMA fighting, a number of bouts will take place on the ‘undercard’ and these will tend to be match-ups between up and coming competitors making their way into the sport.

All of this will build up to the main event of the evening which is likely to be a world title fight at any weight between two of the best opponents at that particular point in time. MMA betting will focus on that main event and more markets will tend to be released for the big fight but it should be possible to find some bets for all fights on the evening’s card.

What is UFC?

The Ultimate Fighting Championship – UFC – is an organisation based in Las Vegas which arranges events based on MMA rules. It is often confused as a separate discipline but essentially, we’re talking about a distinct division within the same sport.

UFC was first set up in 1987 and as of September 2018, it has hosted over 400 events across the world. Some of the biggest names in the game are signed up to the roster and whenever a night of UFC competition takes place, there is sure to be huge interest from fans and also from the betting community.

History of UFC

While the UFC organisation was formed in 1987, the very first event to be sanctioned by them took place six years later in 1993. At the time, the concept of mixed martial arts as a sport was very much in its infancy and the UFC had set out to discover which combination of disciplines was the most effective.

The sport would subsequently evolve into a kind of ‘anything goes’ situation so that moves from boxing, grappling, jiu-jitsu and others would combine and eventually become the MMA that we know today.

That very first UFC tournament was known as War of the Worlds which was held on an eight man, single-elimination basis. Subsequently, events started to be numbered so UFC 1 was held later in 1993.

In a very short space of time, TV networks began to take interest and many of the events were showed on a Pay Per View basis, thereby underlining the popularity of this burgeoning sport.

In those early days, the sport largely took place with no rules so some of the practises that are outlawed today, such as hair pulling, had been previously admissible. However, due largely to the intervention of the US authorities, things were tightened up and the rules rewritten to produce a sport that was far less violent and therefore more accessible to a wider audience.

Once the controversy had been put to one side, UFC began to thrive and after 25 years of competitive competition and over 400 series, it remains one of the best-supported and fastest growing sport organisations in the world.

How UFC Betting Works

Many of the markets that are made available for MMA events can simply be carried over to any tournament that is organised and sanctioned by the UFC. Punters can therefore stake on outright result, method of victory, round betting and much more.

Because of the unique way that UFC is organised, there are some additional options and for elimination events, there are bets available for which of the fighters will be knocked out first. Otherwise, the markets are similar for general MMA fights and for those that are specifically run by the UFC organisation.

Types of MMA Bets

MMA is a sport where there are many betting options beyond the main result. With greater interest in the match ups, bookmakers have evolved to provide an all-round experience from the first bell to the very end of the bout.

Moneyline / Match Bets

A moneyline bet simply relates to the final result of the fight in question so here, the punter is staking on which of the two fighters they expect to win. It’s also referred to as match betting in some places but it all equates to the same thing.

This is betting in its simplest form with the bettor weighing up the records and other qualities of the two fighters on show before making a decision as to who they think will take the win at the end of the contest.

Over / Under Round Bets

An Over / Under bet is a stake on how many rounds the punter thinks the fight will last. A bookmaker will list a number of options and the job of the bettor is to decide whether to go over or under that line.

For example, if you feel that a fight will come to its conclusion before the end of the second round, head to your preferred sportsbook, find the 2.5 line and bet under it. Alternatively, you can back over the line if you think the battle will extend into the third round and beyond.

Lines generally start at 1.5 and go all the way up to the end of the fight.

Live Betting

Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that is perfect for live betting because the action in the ring is fast and furious and there can be so many twists and turns between the first bell and the final decision.

All of the markets that we have listed in this section should be made available for in-play betting too so the best bookmakers will list Moneyline, over and under and method of victory amongst others. Odds for the big match-ups can be especially high and some bookmakers may also provide live streaming services for the bigger events.

This is a great sport for in-play stakes but it is about finding the right bookmaker and we’ll cover our recommendations for live MMA betting shortly.

Method of Finish

With the method of finish bet, the task is to decide how the fight will end, either by knockout, technical knockout, decision or submission. As we have already seen, there is the possibility that a bout will end due to a disqualification but this rarely given as a betting option.

Those methods are split between the two contestants so, when picking a method of victory, punters would have to state whether the win comes from fighter A or fighter B. To round off this section, odds can be found for the draw although these are rare in MMA.

Prop and Victory Bets

A prop bet involves a market that doesn’t necessarily affect the overall outcome of the fight itself. In theory, an Over and Under bet can be classed in this way but it is usually considered a separate bet in its own right so we will exclude it for now.

A victory bet does fall into the ‘prop’ category however because this is a bet on the method of winning but it doesn’t nominate a specific fighter. So, you could head for the victory markets, place a bet on a knockout and if either man wins by this method, you will pick up a profit.

Other prop bets include markets for whether the fight goes the distance or a punt on which round it will finish. As long as there is no direct effect on the winner of the bout, it’s classed as a prop bet.

Pairing Complementary Bets

A complementary bet can be offered by a bookmaker when you sign up for an account. Perhaps there will be a bonus of $10.00 available for registration and if staked in a particular way, it can be used to guarantee a profit.

This involves pairing two bets: A back bet on the sportsbook in question and a lay on the exchange and in some cases this is referred to as Matched Betting.

Parlay Betting

A parlay bet takes more than one outcome and combines it into a multiple stake. This can start with two bets – commonly referred to as a double – and can extend to as many stakes as the individual feels comfortable with.

Using MMA as an example, this may simply mean taking two fights and staking on the winner in each one. Alternatively, punters can take any of the prop bets on a fight card and combine two, three or more outcomes in order to form a parlay.

MMA Betting Strategies

Like any sport, in order to make regular profits on the MMA markets you will need to carry out plenty of research. Start with the most obvious stats such as a fighter’s record and see if there are head to head options for any previous meetings. If the two fighters have yet to meet in a competitive contest then look for results against opponents with similar stature and records.

Because there are so many martial arts disciplines contained within the sport, there are ways in which to analyse strengths and weaknesses and put them to effective use. For example, perhaps one fighter is particularly strong in jiu-jitsu and their upcoming opponent has experienced problems against this form of attack in the past.

Fighters who step up a weight might be better overlooked and there can be a lot of switching within MMA. Beyond that, there are advanced tips and formulas that can be used for any sport but the first key to success is research – and plenty of it.

Other MMA Organisations

We know all about the UFC who are simply the biggest MMA organisation in the world but there are other bodies that govern the sport. Here is a round up of the most well-known organisations and championships.

Bellator MMA

Bellator MMA The Bellator MMA organisation is a US governing body that is currently based in Santa Monica. It is a subsidiary of the Viacom company and its first tournament was held in 2009. Bellator MMA is the second largest MMA organisation in the world, attracting some of the best fighters in the sport and as of September 2018 it has held over 200 events across the globe.

World Series of Fighting (WSOF)

World Series of Fighting (WSOF) There is more than one country operating under the World Series of Fighting umbrella and for North Americans, the focus is on Canada. This version of WSoF originally started out back in 2009 and has previously gone under different names including Aggression MMA and Armageddon MMA. Another organisation called WSoF Central America operates out of Nicaragua and this is slightly more recent having debuted in 2013. Both are very successful entities with great fighters in their ranks and there will always be active betting markets whenever a WSoF night of fighting takes place.

Invicta FC

Invicta FC The Invicta organisation is another body set up in the United States but this is dedicated to female fighters only. Women MMA exponents have been active in other organisations for some time but Invicta is seen as a good grounding for those entering the sport and looking to make their way up the ladder. Invicta FC was incepted in 2012 and it celebrated its 30th edition in July of 2018.

ONE Championship

ONE Championship Based in Singapore, the ONE Championship is an MMA body where the disciplines involved are restricted to Muay Thai, grappling and kickboxing. There is an active circuit and while there may be fewer bookmakers quoting markets for ONE Championship bouts, it is possible to get some good prices from those that are declaring. The ONE Championship first appeared in July 2011 and they will be hitting 75 numbered events in 2018.

Best MMA Fighters

Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier
Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey

According to many professional sources, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell is often regarded as – pound-for-pound – one of the best ever fighters in MMA history. Liddell came into MMA with a background in kickboxing and a perfect record in that discipline.

He adapted well to Mixed Martial Arts and recorded some huge scalps after switching – most notably those of Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture.

Elsewhere, some dedicated MMA websites opt for welterweight champion George St Pierre while Matt Hughes, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones are widely mentioned. In the modern day, Conor McGregor is a controversial figure but one who can rise to the top of the game if he maintains his focus.

In the heavyweight division for 2018, the man that many are targeting is Daniel Cormier of the US. In fact, as of September 2018, Cormier holds both the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight belts.

In the women’s division, Ronda Rousey is perhaps the best known MMA exponent but there are others, including Cristiane Justino who have achieved more at this point in time. Despite being a relatively new sport, there have been some legends in MMA history and there will be plenty more to come in the future.

UFC Mobile Betting

Betting on the go is a flexible way to stay in touch with the MMA markets and for those that like to stake in play, it’s essential to have a mobile option. Bookmakers offer dedicated mobile sites while most also have an app which tends to be the better method of approach as apps can be quicker to access and much faster to load.

It’s unlikely that there will be any separate offers and promotions for mobile MMA betting but all of the standard bonuses should be quoted. Mobile betting is essential for live betting but it’s all round flexibility makes it a good option for any style of play.

Best Online Sportsbooks for UFC Betting

Some sportsbooks were a little slow in publishing markets for UFC bouts but most should now have some related markets to choose from. As with all sports, some bookies are better than others and here are some recommendations as to the best outlets for betting on UFC.

Unibet

Unibet The best MMA bookmakers are going to combine great odds with a wide choice of markets and Unibet do that expertly. They have actively been involved in Mixed Martial Arts sponsorships and while their prices are consistently good all the time, they often quote prop bets that are difficult or even impossible to get anywhere else. Visit Website

Pinnacle

Pinnacle Monitoring of prices over a period of time indicates that Pinnacle are frequently out on their own in regards to providing the best odds for any MMA fight. There may not be the biggest choice of prop bets here but for those who just like to focus on the most popular bets such as the result, this may well be the place to sign up and bed in for the long term. Visit Website

Bet365

Bet365 When it comes to live betting, bet365 are always put up as the market leader and it’s certainly true that they have one of the biggest, if not the biggest ranges of in-play markets of any bookmaker on the web. But bet365’s ante post options shouldn’t be ignored: Their ante post MMA prices are great, they have a big set of prop bets and they often declare odds earlier than any sportsbook so there should be no waiting around for markets to become open - certainly not for the bigger UFC events. Visit Website

Sports Interaction

Sports Interaction For anyone based in North America, Sports Interaction is one of the first places to consider and the benefits here begin with a great welcome offer. Regular promotions can also be accessed and the prices are excellent right across the board. For anyone that can access the Sports Interaction registration, we recommend checking them out as they are one of the best all rounders for MMA betting on the North American continent. Visit Website

Royal Panda

Royal Panda Sometimes it pays to get in with a new sportsbook and that could be the case with Royal Panda. They are perhaps better known for their casino but since they launched their sports betting arm, they have attracted a big customer base in a very short space of time. Once again, the key here is pricing: There isn’t a huge choice of prop bets but the odds here are excellent for result and method of victory betting and they are well worth checking out for those involved with MMA. Visit Website

Betway

Betway It’s worth mentioning Betway for a number of reasons but in terms of live betting, they are close to bet365 in terms of number of markets while they can often beat their rivals with better odds. There is a sign up bonus worth up to £30.00 or currency equivalent and this is another good option for ante post betting with a wide set of markets and competitive pricing whether you’re betting on MMA for in-play or pre-match. Visit Website

Conclusion

MMA and UFC have emerged from the fringes of the fighting world to become one of the fastest growing sports around. The big series are huge draws for spectators and any sportsbook who isn’t getting involved is really missing out.

Whether you’re an experienced MMA bettor or someone who just wants to try it out, it’s important to pick the bookmaker to suit your needs so do read our recommendations section. In summary, this is a great time to get involved with a sport that continues to develop and become one of the focal points for both the TV broadcasters and the sports betting industry.