UFC Betting: Expert Guide to MMA Online Betting

Posted by Chris Spencer . Last updated:

MMA – mixed martial arts – was relatively unknown to mainstream audiences back in the early nineties, but the success of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) allowed this exciting combat sport to gain a widespread following over the past decade. This, of course, spawned a lot of online sports betting opportunities headlined by UFC betting.

Similar to boxing, UFC online betting options range from simple options, like just picking the winner, to the actual method of winning the fight, in which round the fight will be won and more. Read our guide to learn everything you need to know before betting on UFC fights.

Top UFC Betting Sites for US Players

Our experts have compiled a list of the industry’s best sites for US players to bet on MMA fights:

Online MMA Bet Types

UFC  Moneylines

UFC Moneylines

Wager on who will win the fight

A moneyline for MMA fighting is simple: bet on who you think will win.

A moneyline bet is an option you will see at every sportsbook. For example, Conor McGregor was favored at -325 to beat Donald Cerrone, who comes in a +250 underdog. In this UFC online betting scenario for McGregor, you would win $30.77 on a $100 bet if he wins. For Cerrone, you would win $250 on a bet of $100 if he were to win.

The symbols will tell you who the favorite and underdog is. A positive symbol means that fighter is the underdog and a negative symbol if for the favorite.

MMA Over/Unders Betting

MMA Over/Unders Betting

Bet on how many rounds the fight goes

When placing an over/unders bet for MMA or UFC fights, you’re typically betting on how many rounds the fight will last.

An over/under wager in MMA betting means you are betting on the number of rounds a fight will go. A fight might have an over/under of 2.5 for a three-round fight. You would bet on whether you think the fight will end before halfway through the final round, or if it will go beyond that. Remember, there are also five-round fights, so keep that in mind.

MMA Parlay Betting

MMA Parlay Betting

Combine Multiple Bets for a Higher Payout

With a parlay, you’re combining the outcomes of multiple bets together as one wager. For a parlay to pay as a winner, alof the connected wagers must be correct.

For example, you might parlay Francis Ngannou in one fight with Jessica Andrade to win another.  By doing so, your potential payout would grow. However, you would have to win both wagers to collect on the whole ticket. If one of those wagers does not hit – let’s say Ngannou loses – then the ticket is toast.

Parlays offer a higher payout than individual bets because the risk is much higher.

Round Betting

Round Betting

Wager on which round a fighter will win

If you feel one fighter has a heavy advantage over their opponent, placing a round betting wager might be to your advantage. You can wager that a fighter wins in rounds one through three-or-five OR via judges points at the end OR a draw. Be sure to shop around at different online sportsbooks to get the best round betting value for the fighter you’re looking to back.

Odds Example: Diaz wins in Round 3 (+300)

Method of Victory

Method of Victory

There are a handful of ways to win an MMA fight

An MMA fighter can win a fight in one of five ways: knockout (KO), technical knockout (TKO), submission, points or disqualification (DQ). Most online sportsbooks allow you to wager on a fighter’s method of victory and, in some cases, pair a fighter’s method of victory with the round that it occurs. These bets typically carry some favorable odds should you feel confident in your wager.

Example: Jon Jones wins by TKO (+450) and Jon Jones wins by TKO in the 3rd Round (+2000)

Brief History of UFC Betting

The genesis of UFC primetime events takes us back to November 1993 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship was held at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. The fights were also aired on pay-per-view highlighted by the championship match between the legendary Royce Gracie who defeated Gerard Gordeau. Later renamed UFC: The Beginning, Gracie and guys like Ken Shamrock laid a foundation for mixed martial arts to challenge boxing as the most popular combat sport in the world.

ken shamrock tito ortiz

Ken Shamrock (+120) vs Tito Ortiz (-160) 1

Back in 2002, Shamrock returned to the octagon to fight “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Tito Ortiz. Even with just 11 UFC fights under his belt, the favorite Ortiz beat the 38-year-old Shamrock via third round TKO.

Stephen Bonner and Forrest Griffin 1

The Ultimate Fighter first season final is arguably a top five UFC bout of all-time. Griffin won by unanimous decision, 29-28, and earned a six-figure contract with UFC. The deal was originally to be awarded only to the champion, but Dana White was so impressed with Bonner’s effort in the championship match, he offered the TUF’s runner-up a contract, too.

Chuck Liddell (+205) and Randy Couture (-255) 2

After losing to Couture in June of 2003 by TKO, “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell got his revenge less than a year later when he knocked the favorite out in the first round.

Jon Jones (-875) and Alexander Gustafsson (+600) 1

Some consider Jones-Gustafsson 1 a top-five UFC bout of all-time as Gustafsson, a heavy 6-to-1 dog, took the favorite Jones to the wire before “Bones” won the cards by unanimous decision, 48–47, 48–47, 49–46. Jones would win a rematch five years later, in 2018, by third round TKO.

Conor McGregor (+175) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (-215)

And what’s a walk down UFC memory lane without Conor McGregor, right? After losing to Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring the year prior, “The Notorious” one returned the the octagon in 2018 for his first UFC bout in nearly two years when he agreed to fight Khabib. The bad blood between the two rivals overstepped some bounds during the war of words, but Nurmagomedov had the last laugh as he sent the Irish fighter into an early, albeit brief, retirement with a fourth-round submission hold victory.

UFC Betting Odds

UFC LIVE Betting

Let’s say you don’t have a firm grasp or lean towards one fighter over another heading into a UFC primetime bout. It’s probably not a wise use of your bankroll to bet blindly on the moneyline, right? The good news is UFC LIVE betting is available at many online sportsbooks that allows bettors to place a wager as the fight is in progress. The fight odds change on-the-fly as the bout plays out.

So, if a pre-fight underdog looks crisp in the first round, bookmakers may update their LIVE betting in-fight odds to lean more towards the dog or if the favorite comes out in the first 30 seconds of the fight and connects with a flying knee, their LIVE UFC odds may have you wishing you placed a bet before the opening bell.

How to Read UFC Odds

How Do UFC Odds Work?

We covered fight odds in detail in the section above, but most follow the moneyline + / – format.

For example, if you want to wager on which fighter will win the bout, odds will look something like this:

Fighter Moneyline Total Rounds
Punahele Soriano +137 Over 1.5 Rounds
Dusko Todorovic -157 Under 1.5 Rounds

As you can see Todorovic is the favorite with a minus-moneyline of -157, which means every $157 wagered wins $100 should he win the fight. Soriano is the underdog at +137, which means for every $100 wagered, a Soriano victory pays $137 + bettor recoups their original bet.

Recommended Online MMA Betting Strategy

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Study the Craft

By ‘study’, we don’t suggest you hunker down with a book, however, there are many ways to familiarize yourself with MMA fighting. Look at it this way—Many MMA fighters train in gyms that the public can access. Obviously, many big-name MMA fighters have personal, private training sessions, but many fighters have ‘day jobs’ are train and (albeit intense) gyms like you and me.

Take a look at the fighters’ social media account, videos, and if possible, check out their gym—MMA is a bit more transparent compared to major league sports like NBA basketball or NHL hockey, which can give you a slight edge.

a white page with a magnifying glass examining fine print

How big is the cage (or ring)? What is the fighting style?

Although it might sound silly, it’s knowing the details that can really help you make a well-informed MMA/UFC bet. The octagonal cage is more common and the gold-standard for UFC fights, but if you’re watching MMA in an amateur league or other leagues outside the UFC, many still use a ring. Because of the design, rings tend to benefit striking-based fighters or fights—It’s much harder to back someone into a corner than in a circular ring. The UFC has octagonal rings for this reason, since it helps eliminate the ‘cut off the ring’ fighting strategy many boxers use.

Another helpful cage fact to know (or be familiar with) is the cage size. The UFC uses two cage sizes, a 746-square foot cage (about 30-feet across) and a 518-square foot cage (about 25-feet across).

Obviously, the bigger ring leaves the fighters’ more room to move around, and a smaller ring can often mean a quicker fight—If you’re making an over/unders bet, this is helpful to know.

a stack of casino chips with an X through the center

Have a favorite fighter? Don’t bet on them

Unless the odds are in their favor, but for the most part, don’t blindly bet on your favourite fighter. Sometimes, historical wins aren’t the best data to base your bet on—Let’s remember Rhonda Rousey’s swift switch from winning to losing.

Have a favorite, but don’t base your bet on it, unless the data skews in their favor.

Online MMA Betting FAQs

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