MMA Betting 101

How To Make Money With MMA Betting: A Quick-Start Tutorial

As we head into 2021 you kind of have to admit that we live in a whole new world now.

Long gone are the days of everyone gathering together on a Friday night after work to watch 2 nice gentlemen get into a ring and beat the ever-loving dog crap out of each other. Now there are 2 kinds of people in the world.

First off, we’ve got the social justice warriors that would like to make it clear that 2 dudes beating each other is now a sign of “toxic masculinity” and there’s no reason that people should ever behave like that.

And then there’s normal people.

Hey! We’re not here to make fun, but this is the way it is! Sometimes we just need to live vicariously through others and watch these guys, (and gals!) knock each other around for a while, and what a better way than to make some cash while doing so!

If you’re one of those people that fit into our second group here and you’d like to know where to get started yourself on making some of this green, or if it’s even possible to do that, well keep on reading!

Experienced MMA sports bettors do it on a regular basis.

This tutorial will get you up all ready to go. You’re going to learn everything you need to get started with mixed martial arts betting and making smart wagers. Follow the advice below and you may at times be compelled to fade your favorite fighters. But in exchange you’re increase your odds of winning your bets in the process.

Let’s start with one of the most important facetsof online MMA betting.

Choosing The Best MMA Sportsbooks

Now it should go without saying that you want to place your bets at real, legitimate, honest sportsbooks. Who cares if your bets are good or not or if you win or not if you end up not getting paid? And yes, unfortunately for everyone, there are some shady sportsbooks out there.

So how does one go about picking one that they can trust? The simplest way is to choose a few from clicking on this link right here. You may think we’re leading you on, but these have not only been vetted before putting our name behind them, but we actually use them ourselves when placing our own bets! There isn’t a single one on that list that cannot be trusted, we’d immediately be taking them off if there were any question.

Another way is to go out and do the due diligence on your own and find one you can trust. You may find one you like that we’ve never heard of! If you do decide to go that route, just make sure that you focus on these things in particular.

  • payout history
  • reputation
  • competitive lines and odds
  • wide fight coverage
  • responsive customer support
  • depositing options

It’s pretty safe to say that any sports betting site that scores high marks in the above areas is bound to be trustworthy. We know that you’re more than welcome to go off and do your own thing, but anyone worth their salt will agree with the list above. That said, if you want to go a fairly easy way, you really can’t go wrong with any of the sites we’ve recommended.

Mixed Martial Arts Betting Odds Explained

Odds on MMA fights are usually displayed via a money line. For example, here’s how the fight between Mike Davis and Mason Jones (UFC 207) currently appears at Bovada, (taking place on January 20, 2021).

  • Davis -170
  • Jones +140

The favorite is the fighter who has the number with a negative sign next to their name, in this case, Davis. But odds tell you much more than just who’s expected to win the bout. They tell you how much money you can expect to win on a bet for each fighter given the likelihood that fighter wins.

In other words, the odds indicate value.

In the case of this bout, Davis is the favorite and Jones is the underdog. As such, you’d expect to win less money betting on the former. There’s less risk, and thus less potential reward.

In the above scenario, you’d have to bet $170 on Davis to win $100. You’d only have to bet $100 on Jones to win $140. Because Jones is less likely to win, you stand to earn a more lucrative payout.

That’s MMA odds in a nutshell. Keep in mind, the odds change as betting volume leans one way or the other. If you see a good value, it’s a good idea to get in early before it evaporates. This also carries over to pretty much any event that has odds listed that way, such as “X Winner of Upcoming NFL Game” and the like.

We’ll talk more about using odds in the context of making smart wagers in a few moments. Let’s first address how to research fighters.

How To Research MMA Fighters

You may start off totally flying blind and just bet on whoever is rocking the best odds, the obvious favorites, but you will lose eventually, and possibly pretty badly.

Like any other sport that you want to place smart bets on, you must be ready to do some research and really get into the game as it were. These are just some of the questions that you’ve got to ask yourself when you’re deciding on which fighter to bet on.

  • What are the fighter’s strengths?
  • How about the fighter’s weaknesses?
  • What style does the fighter use?
  • How does the fighter match up with his/her opponent?

MMA fighters are pretty well-rounded these days. They can strike as well as they can grapple. But each one still has strengths and weaknesses you can leverage or exploit (respectively). Your job is to identify those strengths and weaknesses and decide how they might affect the outcome of a given bout.

For example, consider a fighter who’s known for pushing the throttle to the floor right out of the gate. That approach might bode well if he’s fighting someone with a poor defense. He can dominate the guy early and not worry about conserving energy.

But suppose he squares off against a solid defender who has exceptional stamina. In this case, his “balls to the wall” approach might actually be a liability.

Here’s the Takeaway:
Before placing a wager, research each fighter’s strengths and weaknesses, and how he or she matches up against his or her competitor. From there, you should have a head start on handicapping accordingly.

The Inherent Risk Of Betting On Favorites

A lot of sports bettors have a tendency to bet on favorites. It’s understandable. They want to back winners, and betting the favorites is the simplest, safest way to do so.

You’ll notice that we’ve already mentioned you can go out that way but that there will be a time when you end up losing. With MMA fighting there’s actually a very huge risk in behaving this way.

You see, first off, MMA bouts aren’t like football games. Outcomes can hinge on a single mistake. One failed block can leave a favorite open to a devastating punch that seals his fate. It wouldn’t be unheard of for the favorite to simply miss a block and take that hit causing them to lose the rest of the match.

Second, favorites tend to draw a disproportionate volume of bets. This prompts the sports book to shift the odds to even things out. The result? The value of the wager plummets as you’re forced to bet a large amount for a relatively small payout.

Now, we’re not saying to not bet on the faves, not at all! Just be aware of the inherent risks as they relate to MMA betting. You may be surprised by the frequency with which underdogs win fights.

Learn To Make Smart MMA Prop Bets

Prop bets are by far one of the most exciting betting options available. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll always enjoy putting action on straight line bets in MMA as long as I can find good value. But prop bets add an additional layer of fun.

For example, it’s one thing to wager that Davis is going to beat Jones in in this upcoming match, but wouldn’t it be more fun to bet that Davis’ll do it via submission? Or, consider that Jones is a formidable striker. Imagine how exciting it would be to bet that Jones, the underdog, would not only beat Davis, but do it via knockout, and watch it happen live.

Prop bets aren’t shots in the dark. There’s a smart way and a not-so-smart way to make them. It mostly boils down to researching fighters.

Again, learn each fighter’s strengths and weaknesses. Analyze their past fights. Then, consider how they match up against one another.

A well-informed MMA sports bettor can make a nice profit on prop bets alone.

MMA Parlays: Does The Potential Payoff Outweigh The Risk?

With a parlay, you’re betting on the outcomes of more than one fight. It’s not enough for a single fighter to win. All of the fighters on your parlay team must beat their respective opponents.

As you can imagine, the payout for winning a parlay is much higher than the payout for winning a bet on a single fight. Moreover, the payouts become increasingly lucrative with the size of the parlay team with your risk relying on betting and winning say, for example, 4 wagers at once instead of just one.

For example, a four-fighter parlay might pay out 10:1. A six-fighter parlay might pay out 40:1. The larger potential reward stems from the increased risk you assume in this type of MMA sports betting. If a single fighter loses his bout, you lose your bet.

Does the bigger potential reward outweigh the increased risk? Here’s how I like to think of it…

It’s like investing in stocks. You can buy stocks through a mutual fund (low risk). Or, you can buy blue-chip stocks, like Home Depot (medium risk). Or you can buy the latest high-flying tech stocks (high risk).

Making straight money line bets that offer good value is like investing in mutual funds and blue-chip stocks. Making parlay bets is like buying the latest tech stock. If the bet pans out, you stand to make a lot of money. But there’s a fair chance the bet will go sideways.

If you’re going to bet MMA parlays, I recommend sticking to short cards, perhaps three fights at most. That’ll allow you to mitigate the risk.

Remember, doing something like a 10-fight parlay is akin to buying a lottery ticket. The chances of winning are incredibly, incredibly slim.

Venturing Beyond The UFC

UFC fights draw most of the action. That’s understandable as it’s the biggest MMA organization. It hosts fights featuring the top fighters that MMA fans love to watch. In addition, the UFC uses savvy marketing to maintain its dominant visibility in the industry.

It’s gotten to the point that when people talk about betting on mixed martial arts, they almost always mean betting on UFC fights. It’s like calling a photocopy a “Xerox” or a facial tissue a “Kleenex.” That’s how ubiquitous the UFC has become in MMA.

But it’s worth noting that when it comes to making bets on mixed martial arts, an entire world exists outside the UFC. There are two other large MMA organizations: Strikeforce and Bellator.

Strikeforce is the larger of the two. It poses serious competition to the UFC because it has managed to get a lot of the world’s top MMA fighters under contract.

Bellator is smaller and less popular. But it organizes a lot of fights with odds that offer solid value. You’ll find bouts featuring fighters who aren’t on the radars of most MMA sports bettors. That’s good news. Less attention translates into more opportunity for the savvy sports bettor.

In short, don’t restrict yourself to betting on UFC fights. That’s like restricting yourself to shopping only at Walmart. Venture outside down the street to Target, (the UFC) and you’ll find a lot of exciting fights with attractive odds.

Shop Around For The Best Lines

It definitely pays to shop around. Online sportsbooks offer different odds for the same MMA bouts. Comparing them is the only way to find the best value.

For example, here are the current lines for the Davis/Jones fight) at Bovada, BetOnline, and MyBookie (keep in mind, they’re subject to change):


  • Davis -170
  • Jones +140


  • Davis -161
  • Jones +141


  • Davis -165
  • Jones +135

If you wanted to bet on Davis, and you had your choice of the above three options, where would you place your bet? You’d place it at BetOnline. There, you only have to wager $161 to win $100. That’s less than you’d have to wager at Bovada and MyBookie to win the same payout.

You will note that the discrepancies in this particular fight really aren’t that far off from each other. With other fights you may find that the differences are considerable larger. Given that these differences are there no matter how small is why it’s a really good idea to join up with more than one site to make sure that you are getting the best odds. This is especially true for fights that have a smaller following and less anticipation. The bottom line: there’s sometimes great value to be found by simply comparing lines from multiple sports betting sites.

Final Thoughts On MMA Betting

You now possess everything you need to make smart bets on mixed martial arts fights. Just like betting on football, basketball, and baseball, there’s a fair amount of research involved. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do the research, you CAN win a significant percentage of your bets and walk away with a profit.

Keep the risk vs. reward equation in mind. Don’t shy away from prop bets and parlays. And be willing to venture outside the UFC. And of course, only place bets at sportsbooks you can trust.

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