MMA Betting

Let’s chat MMA betting! Mixed martial arts is an explosive yet technical sport. Not only do fighters need pure strength but also determination and skill to defeat their opponent.

Like any combat sport, it can leave viewers in shock and awe as fighters take on each other in a ring battling it out until there’s only one left standing. The fighter is usually gambling his reputation and even crown in a specific weight class, resulting in the fighter putting it all on the line with blood, sweat and tears. 

This guide will take you through the basics of MMA, how fights work, rounds and how a match gets decided. As well as learning the overall sport you’ll get a betting understanding on how to bet on MMA fights, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

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MMA: The Basics

MMA, typically known as cage fighting, is made up of mixed combat sports and martial arts.

There are three main areas that a fighter will use at different stages in an MMA fight, which are broken down as: 

  • Stand-up: Boxing is widely used in MMA and is one of the primary striking bases for many fighters. Most of the hits will be in the form of punches, so any fighter looking to knock-out their opponent will need to know boxing of some form. Kickboxing is another base in stand-up for fighters as it helps block or attack the opponent with the use of legs. Taekwondo, Karate, Capoeira, Combat Sambo, Muay Thai, Savate, and Wushu Sanshou are all other forms of martial arts that help improve stand-up striking.
  • Clinch: Judo gives the fighter the ability to grapple on the ground or standing up, putting their opponent in a hold or to get a better position where the fighter is left vulnerable to a strike. Wrestling in the form of Catch Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling is used for explosive moves which are called takedowns. Luta Livre Wushu Sanshou and Sambo, as with the above, are used to improve clinching, takedowns and throws. Muay Thai, on the other hand, is used to improving the striking aspect of the clinch.
  • Ground: Ground control will help the fighter with position or at other times perform deadly moves such as joint locks, chokeholds and submission-holds. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Jujutsu has become a staple art for fighters that have amounted to huge respect with it having the ability to take on fighters who are much stronger or larger and leave them in submission. Judo, Sambo, Catch wrestling and Luta Livre are all used to improve ground control and defend against them.

From the early 1900s MMA fighting has taken different forms of competitive sports with a focus of only one or two types of martial arts used in competitions. We witnessed the introduction of JKD, Jeet Kune Do, from Bruce Lee and events such as Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki in the great ‘The War of the Worlds’.

MMA Betting: Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

The UFC is an American mixed martial arts promotion company that has also become the largest MMA organization in the world, featuring some of the highest-level fighters in the sport. 

UFC was birthed from the invention of a tournament called “War of the Worlds”, which featured different disciplines and martial artists. The eight man single-elimination competition was no-holds-barred combat to determine the best martial art.

The success of the competition led to the fights being watched on pay-per-view and the first UFC 1 competition being born at McNichols Sports Arena in Colorado on November 12th, 1993, and MMA betting has been popular ever since.

UFC Rules

Rounds – UFC matches vary in maximum length depending on whether the match is for a Championship title or simply a fight card’s main event fight. Championship fights and non-championship main event fights last for a maximum of five rounds. All non-main event bouts last for a maximum of three rounds. In the event of a draw in a non-main event, the fight will go to a fourth sudden victory round, held to determine the winner.

In all fights, each round can be no longer than five minutes and there’s a one-minute rest period for fighters between rounds. 

Cage – An Octagon cage is used by the UFC as their stage. The eight-sided enclosure has a diameter of 30ft and is surrounded by with a 6ft high fence. This is where the fighters will enter upon the start of the match and also take the rest period between rounds. 

Match Outcome – There are many actions that will result in either a Win, Loss or No Contest. Matches may end via:

  • Submission: a submission is usually induced by the fighter clearly tapping the mat or their opponent, verbally submitting, or clearly communicating being in pain to a degree that causes the referee to stop the fight. A technical submission is when a fighter either loses consciousness or is on the verge of suffering a serious injury while in a hold.
  • Knockout: a game-ending legal strike that puts the fighter into a state of unconsciousness. 
  • Technical Knockout (TKO): If the referee decides a fighter cannot continue, the fight is ruled as a technical knockout. TKOs can be actioned by the referee (referee stoppage) when a fighter can’t defend themselves, by the ringside doctor (doctor stoppage) if they decide that it’s unsafe due to excessive bleeding or physical injuries, or lastly by the cornermen (corner stoppage) from the team’s side.
  • Judges’ Decision: If the main fight goes to the judges, the three judges will vote individually for a win or a draw. Depending on scoring, a match may end as a unanimous decision where all three judges score a win for one fighter or get split between a draw.
  • Disqualification: an illegal move typically gives the fighter a deduction on the scoring cards initiated by the referee. However if the fighter intentionally continues to execute an illegal move, the referee can disqualify the fighter, resulting in the opponent’s victory.
  • Forfeit: besides the fighter fails to compete or ends the fight early apart from the reason of an injury, the action is considered as a forfeit resulting in a win for the opponent. 
  • No Contest: a no-contest result is only in the case of where one or both fighters are unable to continue or compete effectively. This could be a result of the environment that is out of their control and therefore creating the match void. In the case of a title match, the fighter who has the belt would keep the title. 

With all the formalities and rules out the way, we can dig into the fun aspect of sports betting. MMA or betting on UFC events is similar to boxing wagers. So if you know your right hooks from your uppercuts and rounds, you should be in good shape. For everyone else, we look at individual bets and the wagers you can make in MMA betting.

MMA Betting: Type of Bets in MMA/UFC

Moneylines – Just like boxing, MMA betting wagers on the Moneyline is simply betting on who will win the fight. (Fighter A or Fighter B)

For example, if the Moneyline has Conor McGregor at +160 and Donald Cerrone at -180, Cerrone is favoured to win. You would need to bet $180 to win $100. Whereas if you placed a $100 bet on McGregor and he wins the fight, you would win $160. 

With many fighters having different fighting styles, it’s good to check whether they are a good match up. Also, research previous matchups or win streaks that might determine who will win. You can find UFC betting odds on most sportsbooks.

Total Rounds – Total rounds are Over/ Unders bet that is based on the number of rounds the fight will last before a winner is declared. If the sportsbook sets the number of rounds at 2.5 and -110, if you choose Over and the fight lasts 3 rounds, you’d win $100 on a $110 bet. Whereas if you chose under and the round went to 4 rounds, you would lose the sports bet. 

Given the small number of rounds in MMA and the various fighting styles of fighters, it’s usually not as easy to pick O/U bets. Especially if you have fighters who sometimes perform TKO’s within the first round. Make sure to do your research on the fighters and whether they go the distance or not.

Winning Method – One bet type that’s unique to the sport is how the fight will end. In MMA there are three victory conditions: knockout, submission, and judge decision (score).

You have to pick the correct outcome for the particular fighter. Such as Conor McGregor to win by TKO/KO. Betting odds are increased significantly, as well as the win the particular winning method needs to be correct. But if correct, you’ve struck gold!

Parlays – Parlay bets are multiple bets where all the chosen outcomes have to be correct to win. Although considered a more risky bet in MMA, the rewards are much greater. For example, if you place a bet on Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones to win, you’ll need both fighters to be victorious to win the parlay bet.

Futures – Futures in MMA is all about predicting an event or scenario that may happen in the future. Many UFC fights are organised months in advance, especially when the top fighters are vying for a chance to win a title. Futures opens up a market for fans who love to speculate on the big battles and bet on the chosen winner.

Prop Bets – Typically known as additional bets, Prop bets are related to specific outcomes or events in the fight. You bet on whether or not it is going to happen. Think the match will last under 12 minutes or how many jabs will be thrown in the match? You can bet on that with Prop bets.

About Kris

Kris Hunt is a content editor with over 7 years experience. Kris is an expert on all matters iGaming & sports in the USA. Kris is an Arsenal & Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow Kris on Twitter or on LinkedIn.