Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, combines the techniques and characteristics from all striking and grappling based combat sports into one arena. Most MMA fights feature three rounds that are five minutes in length. Some championship fights and main events are extended to five five minute rounds. As with striking sports such as boxing, Muay Thai, Sambo, etc, the ultimate goal is for a fighter to render their opponent unable to continue due to strikes. These strikes include but are not limited to punches, elbows, kicks and knees, with certain strikes being illegal to maintain the sporting aspect. Like other striking based sports, when this occurs it is labeled a knock out (KO) or technical knock out (TKO). Much like the striking above but in a grappling sense and much like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, other forms of Jiu Jitsu and Sambo, the alternative ultimate goal is for a fighter to render their opponent unable to continue due to submission locks and holds.
Most often when a submission hold, lock or choke is cinched in, the fighter the hold is applied to will submit or tap out in lieu of risking severe bodily harm. If the allotted time period of the fight passes without a KO or submission, the fight is then judged by three judges on a 10 point scoring system, much like boxing. A decision is then rendered either unanimously if all judges deem the same fighter to be the winner, or split if two of the three judges see the fight having the same winner. There are rare occasions where a fight will be stopped due to illegal strikes such as eye pokes, groin strikes or knees or kicks to the head of a grounded opponent that will see the bout end in either a disqualification or be labeled a no contest. The other rare outcome is a draw based on judges scorecards.
The most common and most simplistic bets on MMA fights are simply odds based money line wagers either laying a larger figure than the bettor stands to win on a favored fighter or laying a smaller figure than the bettor stands to win on an underdog.
For example, in our hypothetical fight, Fighter A is a -200 favorite which would mean their opponent, Fighter B, is a +170 underdog. Here’s how the mathematics of this works out:
- For every $200 wagered on Fighter A, a winning bet would return $100.
- For every $100 wagered on Fighter B, a winning bet would return $170.
These bets do not need to be in $100 increments, the $100 figure just gives the ratio of payout based on those odds.
In addition to sports betting on a given fighter to win, there are other ways to wager on any given fight. These include:
- Length of Fight
- Method of finish
Length Of Fight
This type of wager can be made in a couple different ways. The most common is simply whether or not a fight ends inside the predetermined full distance of the fight, or ITD. This works just like a straight bet on a fight with the most likely outcome having a betting line set with a negative figure. For example, if two fighters who are historically good at knocking out their opponents, the inside the distance (ITD) line might sit at -500. There’s not a full consistency on the comeback line for an underdog with a line this high, but it would be in the neighborhood of +400, and we will use this for simplicity’s sake.
- For every $500 wagered on ITD, a winning bet would return $100.
- For every $100 wagered on not ITD, a winning bet would return $400.
Another example would be two fighters who have not shown a propensity for finding knock outs or submissions might have an ITD line set at +170. This would flip the odds the other way.
- For every $100 wagered on ITD, a winning bet would return $170
- For every $200 wagered on not ITD, a winning bet would return $100
Another way to wager on length of fight is on the “total” or the “over/under” line. This is much closer in structure to a point spread or total bet in other sports, but does carry some odds fluctuation as well.
Totals on MMA fights are generally set at 1.5 rounds or 2.5 rounds. Don’t be confused by the decimal there, it doesn’t take into consideration the time of the round, only which round is reached. For example, if betting over 1.5 rounds, this bet would be a loser as soon as round two begins.
There are also “fight begins round X” bets. This is another simple odds based wager on whether the fight makes it to whichever round is being wagered upon.
Method Of Finish/Fighter Props
These bets are predicting not only the winner of the fight, but their method of victory as well. These bets include, ITD win, by KO, by submission and by decision. While these bets are often more difficult to pinpoint, they offer a more favorable rate of return than flat bets on a given fighter.
Going back to our original example having Fighter A as the -200 favorite against the underdog, Fighter B at +170. Fighters A and B might also carry betting lines such as
- Fighter A ITD at +150
- Fighter A by KO at +270
- Fighter A by submission at +850
- Fighter A by decision at +120
- Fighter B ITD at +600
- Fighter B by KO at +1300
- Fighter B by submission at +800
- Fighter B by decision at +420
This is a hypothetical example but is in line with the norm on these types of lines. As you can see, there is value in specificity, with a much higher rate of return.
This is a bet common to all sports that combines multiple bets into one wager with a higher rate of return if all bets are winners. In this format all bets included in the wager must be winners for the wager itself to be a winner. All but one would not be good enough and the wager would be a loser.
Here’s an example of a three fighter parlay, and for simplicity’s sake, we will make all fighters bet carry a -200 betting line. As opposed to betting each fight individually and laying more cash than is stood to be won, the parlay would pay approximately +240 with all fighters winning.
Three fighter parlay
- Fighter A -200
- Fighter C -200
- Fighter E -200
$100 wager returns $240 with all fighters winning. An outcome that sees any of the three fighters listed on the losing side, would make this wager a loser.
No Action Outcomes
There are rare instances in MMA, like other combat sports that will result in a “no action” wager, meaning the original bet will be refunded. These include draws and no contest fights.
Know The Fighters – MMA is very much a previous film based sport in terms of analysis on how well one fighter matches up with another. It is also very much about knowing the background and fighting style of each fighter, and most importantly, how to exploit weaknesses.
For instance, the best striker in the world would be at a disadvantage against an objectively poor striker who was also a sound wrestler and competent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) practitioner when we add the caveat that said striker has poor takedown defense and novice level BJJ. This is the reason the best boxers in the world have been unable to successfully transition to MMA.
Now let’s make one tweak to the hypothetical matchup formula presented above. Let’s say the world’s best striker remained a novice level BJJ practitioner but now had high level defensive wrestling added to their credentials. We still know this fighter would be at a distinct and troublesome disadvantage on the floor, but we now have the relative comfort level of knowing that fighter may well be able to keep the fight standing for its entirety, where they hold the distinct advantage.
This example is just outlining the importance of knowing the fighter skill sets and transitioning that to how to expect the fight to play out. Identifying areas of exploitable advantage is the most important aspect to MMA gambling.
Follow line movement – This is not fool proof and does not carry a perfect correlation by any means, but there are certainly ways to use it to your advantage. The rule of thumb is simply to trust the betting trends to the exact reciprocal of the notoriety and fame of the fighters in the fight. Generally speaking, the less known the fighters are, the sharper the money being bet on them is, stemming from the action coming from those in the know. On the other end of the spectrum, a high profile fight is likely to have more action from casual observers and the sharpness of the money coming in will be at its lowest point.
How To Find MMA Odds on Betting Sites
Most betting sites and/or betting apps will contain a tab for “MMA” or “UFC/MMA.” The UFC is the premier MMA organization in the world and is wholly considered “the big leagues” if put into baseball terms. It is where the best fighters in the world want to be and they have an arguable monopoly on the best fighters across all weight classes.
Once on the MMA portion of the betting site, you can then see which fights are available for betting along with available fighter and fight props.
Most Popular MMA Events
The heading could have just as easily read “Most Popular UFC Events” while there are other promotions that offer entertaining MMA, and some being televised, the other promotions just don