Complete Guide to MMA Betting in 2018
Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world with little to no signs of letting up anytime soon. The fast-paced, combat action between two warriors has proven to be a fan favorite. Whether you're a fan of the vicious knockouts, the ground game chess match, or just watching the high flying action of two super athletes put it all on the line, we can all agree that it's one of the most exciting sports to watch or be a part of.
As is the case with any competitive sport, mixed martial arts presents some unique opportunities to turn up the action or turn out a profit with sports betting. Recreational sports bettors, serious professional bettors, or just curious gamblers can take advantage of the unique and exciting opportunities mixed martial arts brings to the table. No matter where you fall in those three categories or how new or seasoned of a mixed martial arts sports bettor you are, we've put together a comprehensive guide to walk you through everything you would ever want or need to know about betting on mixed martial arts.
When you get finished with this guide, you'll be more knowledgeable than most serious mixed martial arts sports bettors and be well on your way to having fun and hopefully turning a serious profit.
About This Guide | What to Expect
This guide is prepared by a team of expert sports bettors with a strong knowledge base and a real passion for mixed martial arts. Our team is NOT just casual fans but seriously rooted in the sport and the betting side of things. Some of our contributors are fighters who train with high-level professionals as well as experienced sports bettors with a proven track record of betting success in mixed martial arts.
We're not telling you all of this to "sound cool" or anything like that; we're telling you this to let you know that the quality of the information you will get from this guide will be high. Sadly, the internet is littered with garbage content put out by writers and contributors with no real knowledge base about the sport. You can trust that the information and direction we give you here will be top-notch and all comes from experienced, professional, and talented sources.
Regardless of your experience level in betting mixed martial arts, we recommend that you read the entire guide as there are a lot of informational gems packed throughout the entire guide. If you're in a hurry or looking for something in particular, we have provided a few quick links here to jump to particular sections of the guide you're looking for.
The Essentials to Know | About MMA
Mixed martial arts, MMA for short, is a combat sport between two fighters that allows each fighter to use both striking and grappling to defeat their opponent. These different techniques can be derived from any fighting style or martial arts or even something they create themselves. The reason it is called mixed martial arts is that it is literally the mixing of different martial arts. In the early days of mixed martial arts, we would see fighters of only one discipline go to war with a fighter of either the same discipline or another single discipline. As the sport has developed, fighters have become more well-rounded and have begun learning and mastering multiple different fight styles. It's not uncommon now to see a fighter proficient in multiple different martial arts disciplines and employing all of them during the same fight.
Mixed martial arts competitions take place in a closed in cage or octagon between the two fighters. The fights are officiated by a referee who is also in the cage and three judges that are sitting cage-side. A mixed martial arts fight ends with one of the following methods:
The fights are set to go a predetermined number of rounds that are also a predetermined length. The standard is usually three five-minute rounds for non-title fights and five five-minute rounds for title/championship fights. If both fighters make it to the end of the fight, the winner is decided by the judges. The judges use what is known as the 10 point must system. This is a scoring style taken from boxing that has taken wide criticism in the mixed martial arts community.
The system does not have the judges grade the entire fight, but award fighters points on each round independent of the others. The winner of each round will be awarded 10 points, and the loser of the round will be awarded nine or less. The majority of mixed martial arts rounds are scored 10-9. The exception to this is if one fighter completely destroys the other and the judges deem that the other fighter didn't do much of anything. In this situation, they only award the losing fighter eight points for the round and score it 10-8. "10-8" rounds are somewhat rare and are reserved for rounds where one fighter completely dominates the other.
The total points for all three or five rounds are added up, and the winner is the fighter with the most points. If the fighters have the same amount of points, the contest is a draw. The argument with this scoring system is it does not give the judges much room to score varying levels of performance. For example, if Fighter A wins the first and second rounds by only a little (extremely close rounds) and barely inflicts any damage, but then Fighter B wins the third round much more decisively and inflicts a lot of damage, but not quite a 10-8 round, Fighter A wins the fight. People would argue that Fighter B should win this fight as they inflicted much more damage and were much more effective, but unfortunately, they don't due to the scoring system. Each round is scored independently of all the others.
Fighters will use submission style techniques including chokes, joint locks, or similar moves to render their opponent unconscious or cause serious bodily harm. When an opponent realizes they are in an inescapable submission, they can "tap" verbally or by physically tapping the mat or their opponent, signaling that they admit defeat.
This is when an opponent goes unconscious from strikes. The second that a fighter is no longer conscious, the fight is over, and the conscious party is deemed the winner.
The referee has the power to stop the bout at any point and deem one fighter the winner. Reasons for referee stoppage include when a fighter stops intelligently defending themselves, when a fighter looks to be losing consciousness from a choke or strikes, or when a fighter has a significant injury such as a broken bone or cuts that need immediate doctor attention. When the referee sees the latter, they will first pause the bout and call the doctor in to evaluate the situation. If the doctor deems it too dangerous for the fighter to continue, the fight will be over with the other fighter receiving the victory.
The doctor also has the ability to stop the fight between rounds if they see something that they deem dangerous for the fighter to continue. This is fairly uncommon as most doctor stoppages come as a result of the referee requesting a review of a particular fighter.
Sometimes known as throwing in the towel, the corner and coaches of a fighter have the ability to stop a fight at any point on behalf of their fighter. This will usually occur if a fighter is taking serious damage that could be detrimental to their future and they see no chance of winning the fight. This is much more common in lower level mixed martial arts competitions but sometimes is still seen on the big stage.
There are extensive rules about what fighters can and cannot do in the cage. This is to protect the fighters as well as protect the integrity of the sport. For example, eye poking is not allowed as this is supposed to be a martial arts competition, not a street fight. If an opponent commits an illegal offense, they will usually receive a warning, and the referee may choose to deduct a point depending on the severity. If the fighter continues to commit the offense after warnings, the referee may disqualify the fighter and award the other fighter the victory.
Also, if a fighter injures the other fighter with an illegal move to where they cannot continue, the offending fighter will be disqualified from the competition.
If a fighter is injured to where they cannot continue due to an accidental illegal strike, the fight will be ruled a no contest with no winner. In some organizations, a technical decision can be rendered if the fight has gone a certain length. This is usually two rounds in a three round fight and three rounds in a five round fight. Judges will look at who is ahead on the scorecard at that point and award that fighter the victory. Again, the handling of this is organization dependent.
One of the most common mistakes people make when talking about mixed martial arts is getting MMA and UFC confused. Mixed martial arts is the actual sport that is being done, and UFC (The Ultimate Fighting Championship) is one organization that fighters can fight in. Here's an analogy about football that might make this clearer. Which of the following statements would you say if you wanted to play this sport with your friend this weekend?
- A. "Do you want to play some NFL this weekend?"
- B. "Do you want to play some football this weekend?"
Clearly, unless you're an oddball, you would use phrase B. This is because football is the actual sport and the NFL (National Football League) is an organization that football players can play in. If you were going to watch college football, you wouldn't tell your friends you were going to watch NFL. You would say you're going to watch football or going to watch college football.
This is the exact same for mixed martial arts. Let's say you were going to watch the Bellator fights tonight. Bellator is another organization just like the UFC that fighters can fight in. You wouldn't say you were going to watch UFC tonight because that would make no sense. You would say either you are going to watch Bellator or you are watching MMA tonight. You'd be surprised at how many people don't actually know the difference between these two and improperly use them time and time again.
Since we're on the topic of different fighting organizations, we'd like to walk you through some of the more popular fighting organizations that exist. Most of these fighting organizations you can bet on, and some of the smaller ones are actually better to bet on because you can find more value. Remember, each of these organizations is doing mixed martial arts, not UFC.
The reason that so many people accidentally call mixed martial arts UFC is that the UFC is the biggest and most prestigious fighting organization there is. It's the NFL of football or the NBA of basketball. It's the big leagues, and it's where any fighter that wants to be the best aspires to be.
The UFC has their main events which are numbered (UFC 209, UFC 210, etc.) and then also has their smaller events called UFC Fight Nights.
The UFC has been around for many years but gained its biggest popularity bump around 2006 when it merged with Pride FC and then purchased the WEC and Strikeforce. As those were the current biggest competitors, the UFC staked their claim in the industry and have not looked back since.
In 2011, the UFC penned a deal with Fox Sports Network, putting the organization and the sport on the map officially.
Based out of Santa Monica, California, Bellator MMA is the closest thing to a competitor to the UFC. Featuring a tournament style format, fighters must work their ways systematically through the field to reach the championship bouts. In recent years, the company has begun acquiring a lot of disgruntled fighters from the UFC with claims they pay their fighters much better.
In 2011, a majority stake in the company was purchased by telecom giant Viacom, and the show began airing all of its events on Spike TV. Bellator seems to have the flair and entertainment factor that a lot of the older Japanese promotions used to have which makes for some added excitement leading up to the fights.
Based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, the WSOF is NBC Sports Networks ticket to the big show.
Fights take place in a decagon and follow all of the same rules as the other major promotions. This is a great breeding ground for fighters to grow out of and still boasts a lot of top talent.
Not to mention, Bas Rutten is one of the announcers which is a big plus if you like entertainment.
Don't let anyone ever tell you mixed martial arts are only for men.
This all-female promotion is a blast to watch and is currently growing in size and popularity.
In 2014, UFC Fight Pass announced that they would exclusively air all Invicta FC events moving forward.
Extremely popular in Asia, mixed martial arts promotion ONE Championship feels like a solid throwback to the old days of Pride.
With a ten-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports Asia, the fight promotion is definitely here to stay for a while. While many US based fight fans might not be aware of this promotion, it is widely known as the biggest and most popular mixed martia arts promotion in all of Asia.
In the old days of mixed martial arts, everyone just fought everyone, and that was it. There were no weight classes or any separation of the fighters. This made for some great fights as well as some terribly lopsided beatings. Since the early days, the community has adopted different weight classes. Fights are also separated by gender, so the women fight the women and the men fight the men. To compete in a weight class, a fighter must weigh in at that weight the day before a fight. A lot of fighters will cut weight by dehydrating themselves to make a lower weight class and then try and bulk back up before the fight starts. This is a fairly popular practice done by most professionals. This means that if a person is fighting in the 135 weight class in a fight on Saturday night, they might weigh 150 lbs to start the week and cut down so they can weigh in at 135 pounds on Friday. They will then reload the water and nutrients into their body and be somewhere around the 150 mark again come fight time. You can imagine the advantage you would get if you cut weight and your opponent didn't. For this reason, almost all fighters cut weight.
Each fight promotion has what is called cards for each fight event. The card is simply the list of fights that will be going on. Most fight promotions also have the Main Card, Preliminary Card ("the prelims") or the undercard, and sometimes an even earlier group of preliminary fights. As you might imagine, the main card is the most popular fights with the biggest names and usually consist of five fights. The first undercard/prelims are usually the next four or five popular fights, and then so on if they have another undercard.
Here is what a fight card might look like. Usually, betting odds are offered for the main card and the first undercard. Occasionally you can find odds for the lower level fights, but this is rare.
MMA Betting For Beginners | Common Mistakes and Bet Types
Like most sports you can bet on, there is a multitude of different kinds of bets that you can place. Most people think that the only bet type you can place is on who will win, but that is incorrect. Here are the most common types of bets you can make in mixed martial arts with a link to full descriptions of everything you need to know to intelligently place those bets.
Moneyline / Match Bets
Match bets are the type of bet most people know in mixed martial arts. This is as simple as picking who is going to win the fight. While the premise is simple, there are some things you need to understand about the different odds offered as well as a few more advanced options like parlays.
Over and Under Bets
These bets are not over unders on how many punches are thrown or anything like that but are bets on how long the fight will last. This gives you a unique way to bet on your predictions without having to pick a winner.
Prop Bets and Victory Methods
In a lot of sports, the prop bets are mainly for fun and not great to include in a winning and profitable strategy. In mixed martial arts, though, the prop bets and victory method bets are fantastic money makers and are something you can take full advantage of especially if you are a sharp bettor. We highly recommend you click the link below and read a bit more about the different types of these bets offered and how to maximize your profits on them
Now that you're well-versed on the different types of bets you can place, it's important that you understand some of the biggest blunders that new and seasoned sports bettors make when betting on mixed martial arts. No matter how much experience you have with sports betting, we HIGHLY recommend you take a few minutes and read through these common mistakes. A few extra minutes could save you or make you a ton of money in the future. There's nothing worse than losing a sports bet that you should have won had you not made a mistake.
MMA Betting Strategy | How to Make Expert Picks
One of the best things about newer sports is that there are typically a lot more opportunities to make some serious cash. The oddsmakers aren't as sharp as the seasoned veterans in other sports, and the betting public is too easily influenced causing line moves that create amazing opportunities. Now, just because more profitable opportunities exist doesn't mean you're just going to print money without the right strategy.
Building an effective and profitable mixed martial arts betting strategy is definitely possible, but takes the right mix of knowledge and strategic planning. If you're new to betting on mixed martial arts or are looking to improve your current betting system, you've come to the right place. We've picked the brains of all of our experts and have put together a rather comprehensive list of tips and strategies that can help you to begin making expert level picks on mixed martial arts. At the end of the day, you're most likely going to develop your own individual betting strategy that fits your knowledge and risk level, but these tips and strategy will help get you moving in the right direction. A strong strategic foundation is the key to any great betting system
How to Place a MMA Bet | Online vs. Brick and Mortar
Now that we've got you fully educated on what MMA is, educated on how not to call MMA UFC, ready not to make any common betting mistakes, and chalked full of great strategy advice, it's time to talk about how and where actually to place your bets. When it comes to betting on mixed martial arts, you usually have a few options. The first option is a brick and mortar (building) type establishment like a casino, sportsbook, or bookmaking house if you're in Europe. The second option that has recently become available thanks to technological advancements is betting online. Both of these two different options have their pros and cons which we're going to address, so you make the smartest choice for you and your money.
Brick and Mortar
The option that has been around the longest is betting at brick and mortar locations. As we mentioned, this can include a casino, a sportsbook, or a dedicated bookmaking house for our friends over in Europe. These are locations that require you to physically go to when placing any of your bets. Let's start with the good things about betting at brick and mortar locations. Some people thoroughly enjoy the commotion and fast-paced feel of being in a betting environment. Fans there seem to be a bit more energetic as they all usually have some sort of money on the line. You're also usually able to get paid out on your bets on the same day, though, this usually involved waiting in some sort of line.
The negatives associated with brick and mortar interestingly enough, mostly all stem from the same things that are the benefits. While some people like the commotion of the fast-paced environment, a lot of people despise it. Brick and mortar betting locations are typically smoky, packed with boisterous and drunk people, and aren't very helpful if you're looking to relax or actually be able to hear the commentators of the fight. Being able to be paid out on the same day is great, but you're usually going to have to wait in a hefty line especially after the end of a big fight or big fight card.
Not to be a complete Negative Nancy, but there are a few more drawbacks to the brick and mortar betting locations that we do want to make you aware of. First, are the logistical issues. You have to drive to the betting site which may not be close, battle through traffic, and then find parking. You can't leave to do this, though, until you take care of your responsibilities at home. If you have kids, pets, or a significant other, you're going to have a lot to get squared away before you can even get into the car.
Secondly, and WAY more important are the financial implications of betting at a brick and mortar location. Transportation to the location costs money. Gas costs money. Wear and tear on your car costs money. Parking costs money. Babysitters cost money. Food at the location costs money. All of these additional costs eat into your profits, especially if you aren't making really large bets. Not only this, but you are unable to shop lines and are stuck with whatever the brick and mortar location is offering. We put this one last, but the inability to shop lines might be the single biggest drawback to brick and mortar betting.
If you're just looking for a high energy and entertainment only type betting experience, brick and mortar might be for you. If profit and convenience are important to you as well, you may want to look into the next option, online betting.
Thanks to technology and Al Gore's invention, the internet, betting on mixed martial arts has taken a much more convenient and efficient direction. In response to the laundry list of problems with brick and mortar locations we listed above, online fixes just about all of these problems. Here's a list of a lot of the benefits for betting online:
- Protect Profits and Save Money
You don't have all the additional travel and logistical costs that eat into your profits. It costs nothing to bet from your phone or your computer at your house, office, or wherever you might be.
- Never Miss a Bet
One of the worst things that can happen at a brick and mortar location is that you arrive last minute to place a bet and get shut out because the line is too long. This will NEVER happen online because there are no lines ever.
- Quick and Convenient
The entire production of betting at a brick and mortar location can take hours at times. Online allows you to place bets within a matter of seconds or minutes if you click and type at dinosaur speed.
- Shop Lines
Again, THIS is the most important benefit of them all. If you read our strategy section, you understand the importance of being able to shop lines. If you haven't read it yet, we highly recommend reading it now as this is the biggest tip and take away from the entire guide.
With the fear of possibly sounding like obnoxious cheerleaders, betting on mixed martial arts online is really the greatest option available. You can do it from anywhere at any time, and you don't even have to put on pants if you really don't feel like it.
For those that still like the hyped environments, you can bet from your phone on most online betting sites from the bar or from the fight themselves. It really is a win-win for everyone. The one drawback that you occasionally do hear people ask about is the cashout process. Unlike brick and mortar, your computer can't just print off money to you right away. Most sites take between one and five or seven days to process your cashouts with most of those being towards the faster side of the spectrum.
In our book, this is completely worth the trade-off for all of the convenience and advantages. Not to mention, if you aren't actually at the brick and mortar location on fight night, you're not going to get paid until you take the time to drive back to the location.
Since we've hopefully helped you to see the light and convinced you that betting mixed martial arts online is the way to go, the next logical step is helping you to pick out a place to place your bets. With tons of different options available, it can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking that you might end up at a site that isn't optimal for you. What we've done to help is scoured the web and looked to find the absolute best and most trusted online sports betting sites for mixed martial arts. We took into account security and reliability first, and then a healthy mix of bets offered, competitiveness of lines, bonuses offered, customer service, user interface, and cash out and deposit times and options. We compiled all of this data and have come up with a list of our current favorites.
We're confident that one of these sites will be perfect for your new mixed martial arts betting home. Also, as we mentioned in the strategy section, it might be wise to join a few of the sites to take full advantage of the bonuses available, but more importantly be able to shop lines easier. When we bet, we usually open 2-3 different sites we have accounts with and look for the best odds on each fight we want to bet.
Fight Styles | How Each Style Works and Doesn't Work in MMA
When you're betting any other sport, you may put a lot of attention to how the different teams or players accomplish their goals. If you're betting tennis, you look at the players to see who plays a more finesse style and who your power hitters are and how this matches with their game plan. If you're betting football (American), you look at the different types of offense and defense schemes that are run and how they match up against the opposing team's styles of play. You would be silly if you didn't do the same for mixed martial arts.
In mixed martial arts, fighters are typically very strong in one or two types of martial arts and somewhat weaker in the other areas they are new to learning. As younger fighters that are learning all disciplines come up the ranks, this will be less prominent, but still important to analyze which styles they are best at. Many fans and sports bettors are familiar with the different styles that fighters use, but they are lacking in knowing the pros and cons of each style for mixed martial arts. For example, boxing is great for striking, but are you aware that due to the fact boxers are trained to stand heavier on their front foot they sit at a higher risk and susceptibility to leg kicks? Or are you aware that a Jiu Jitsu fighter who is too over eager to get certain submissions is actually at a bigger risk of getting knocked out?
All of these are extremely important to know for betting and will also as a bonus make you sound really smart when talking about the sport. We've provided a fully dedicated page to the different fighting styles and how they work or don't work in mixed martial arts.
Additional Information | Famous Fighters and History
For those looking to learn even more about mixed martial arts, we've provided some great resources below. While a lot of these are just great to familiarize yourself with the sport, some of them are important reads to make you a stronger sports bettor. Knowing who some of the bigger name fighters is a great way to get started into the sport. Historically looking at how certain fighter styles worked or didn't can help you to have a better forward-looking ability to predict how things will go for newer fighters. Ultimately, the more information you know about the sport and the fighters, the better off you're going to be and the better opportunity you have to make some serious cash.
One of the more challenging things about mixed martial arts is trying to stay up to speed on all of the fighters. Frankly, it's near impossible unless you are dedicating 100% of your time to the sport and aren't eating or sleeping or doing anything else. The best way to tackle this is to start by learning some of the bigger names and most relevant names now and historically. What we've done is put together a dedicated page of the fighters that you MUST know about if you're going to get into MMA betting. Most of these fighters are current, but we did include a few historical names that have helped to shape the direction of the sport. This is by no means a complete list, and there are some real rockstars that aren't on the list. We just wanted to give you a head start on learning the different fighters. As you start to bet and research fighters, you will learn a lot more names but will have a strong base to work from.
History of MMA
Mixed martial arts has come a long way since its original days of bare-knuckle, no weight class brawls. It's gone from a bloody sideshow to a skill-filled display of martial arts at the highest level. This history is a colored one with a lot of highs and lows for the sport. We've put together some highlights of its history for you so you can be up to speed on where it's come from and where it might be headed in the future.