How to Bet on Fighting

This is how to bet on fighting.

Key Points

– There are numerous organizations that host fights that bettors can wager on.

– Nothing helps a bet on fighting like research.

How to Bet on Fighting

Typically, when individuals consider placing a bet on mixed martial arts, they are thinking of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). The UFC attracts the majority of MMA (mixed martial arts) betting volume because it is the most well-known MMA brand.

However, there are many other MMA organizations available that offer just as exciting action. Sportsbooks also offer betting odds on fights staged by Bellator, Invicta, and ONE Championship in addition to the UFC. 

There are some variations among the four major MMA organizations. Bettors that understand the differences can get a leg up on the competition. Here’s a brief look at each of the four and a how to bet on fighting for each. 

The Ultimate Fighting Championship

The Ultimate Fighting Championships is the most well-known brand in the world for mixed martial arts. The majority of the sport’s well-known fights take place in a UFC Octagon.

The UFC was one of the first organizations to stage actual fights in a cage. The UFC was founded in 1993. It has had to adjust throughout time to governmental scrutiny, new rules, and, at one point, impending bankruptcy. 

In the early 2000s, Dana White, the current UFC president, and Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, the creators of Zuffa, paid $2 million to acquire the budding company. The sport was then authorized under the New Jersey “Unified Rules,” which are still in use, by working with state-run sports commissions.

UFC Leading the Way

The reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter” helped bring the UFC into the public light. No other MMA organization to date has achieved what the UFC has. That includes signing a lucrative TV agreement with FOX Sports, founding the streaming service Fight Pass, and frequently recording over a million pay-per-view purchases for high-profile events.

Nearly all of the top MMA fighters, including Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, and Conor McGregor to mention a few, have competed inside the UFC octagon.

In 2016, the UFC was sold to WME-IMG for $4.2 billion. At the time, it was the most money ever spent in sports.

How to Bet on Fighting – UFC

Nearly every week, the UFC holds events, and any sportsbook worth its salt will provide UFC odds. Roughly a month before any given card, odds are made public. In most cases, bettors are able to place their wagers long before  the main event. Occasionally, smaller cards won’t be accessible for betting until a week or two beforehand.

While there are many various kinds of wagers you can place on the majority of UFC fights (such as round betting and method-of-victory wagers), the most common wager is on who will win a given fight. When learning how to bet on fighting, you need to master these.

Betting on the UFC requires some work on the part of the bettor. Bettors must have some knowledge of fighters, their styles, and their histories. Since the UFC has the most well-known fighters, bettors are faced with a problem.

Since the fighters are well-known, sportsbooks rarely publish inaccurate lines on UFC fights. Plus, if they did, bettors would be all over them which would quickly bring the odds in line with where they should be. 

Betting on recognizable fighters in the UFC is usually not profitable. The big names – like Conor McGregor, for example – attract a lot of casual bettors. The odds often change significantly leading up to a fight. If you don’t get in on a wager right away, you’re out of luck when trying to bet on UFC favorites.

That means you either have to find strong underdogs, seek value elsewhere on a fight card, or flip to a different fighting organization altogether.

Bellator MMA

Bellator has always been the little brother to the UFC’s older brother in terms of the near-monopoly that is the UFC. Being number two isn’t terrible, though. Bellator is owned by cable juggernaut Viacom and the organization can attract MMA fans by staging matches that are more about the sizzle than the steak.

The majority of the biggest sportsbooks take bets on Bellator fights, just like the UFC. Although their events are a little less frequent than those of the UFC, there is typically at least one Bellator fight card each month. When looking at how to bet on fighting, the Bellator offers tons of options.

A Quick Overview of Bellator’s History

Bellator MMA, formerly known as Bellator Fighting Championships, was founded in 2008 and advertised as “The Toughest Tournament in Sports.” The single-elimination tournament format gave the victor a chance to defend a title against the world champion in the relevant weight class.

The tournament concept was initially unique and fascinating compared to the UFC. The organization began to falter when it changed its format. Founder Bjorn Rebney left Bellator in 2014 and former Strikeforce president Scott Coker took over. The tournament format no longer exists and Bellator operates much like UFC.

Some more recognizable names like Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson fought in Bellator. The organization continues to attract big-name fighters like Ryan Bader and Rory MacDonald. They have also attracted kickboxers as Bellator has often included kickboxing bouts on their fight cards. Bellator doesn’t shy away from collaborating with other promotions.

How to Bet on Fighting – Bellator

While Bellator fights might not be as well-known as those in the UFC, you can usually place the conventional moneyline bets on them. The betting lines do change a lot, particularly for events when bigger stars are involved. 

Like UFC fights, it’s preferable to place your bet on a well-liked favorite as soon as the betting line is made public in order to get the best odds. Odds change quickly as the public gets involved. 

It can be challenging to locate value for Bellator events just as it is for UFC events because of their propensity to sign well-known fighters. Nevertheless, Bellator undercards will feature fighters who aren’t as well-known.

You can be in a good position to capitalize on a bad line if you do your homework or have some first-hand knowledge that sportsbooks lack. Naturally, sportsbooks won’t publish every fight on the card. Instead, they’ll only list the ones where they feel confident offering odds.

There are various ways to bet on Bellator events because, like the UFC, the majority of bookmakers provide round betting and method-of-victory bets.

Invicta Fighting Championship

As the popularity of MMA continued to grow, the sport recognized a niche in promoting female fighters. Invicta Fighting Championship was started in 2010 and is dedicated to promoting female-only fights. 

Janet Martin and Shannon Knapp, who both had prior experience working with MMA companies like King of the Cage and Strikeforce, launched Invicta FC in 2010. This all-female MMA promotion was created to fill the gap left by Strikeforce after the UFC acquired it. Knapp and Martin founded Invicta because the UFC at the time had no plans to continue pushing women’s MMA the way Strikeforce had done so well in the mid-2000s.

Invicta FC began hosting pay-per-view events in 2012, and they were a surprisingly successful minor promotion. The UFC and Invicta reached an agreement in 2014, which is how their contests ended up on Fight Pass.

Betting on Invicta FC

Invicta FC is mostly known to die-hard MMA fans, and it is more difficult to locate sportsbooks that handle Invicta bets. Bettors that are looking for the action can find it. There are certain online sportsbooks that have lines for Invicta FC fights.

The week before the event, moneyline odds on the fight winners are released. If you know enough about the fighters and do some homework, you may actually uncover betting lines with some value. 

Before placing any wager on an Invicta FC fight, make sure you are familiar with both fighters. Public bettors will often be tempted to wager on a fight when they know something about one of the fighters. That’s a recipe for a loss. Every equation has two sides, and unless you understand both sides, the math doesn’t work.

ONE Championship

If the UFC and Bellator are the dominant organizations in North America and Europe, ONE Championship is the dominant organization in Asia. Despite being one of the most successful MMA organizations, a large portion of the western world is unaware that it exists.

Based in Singapore, ONE Championship debuted in 2011. It was formerly known as ONE Fighting Championship. The business was successful in discovering a niche that the UFC missed – Asia. With a global broadcast reach of more than one billion homes in 128 countries, ONE championship has become one of Asia’s most valuable sports media properties.

Singapore is not the only city where events take place. They also take place in Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, and a number of other Asian cities. Additionally, they have an advantageous ten-year broadcast agreement with ESPN Star Sports and Fox Sports Asia.

Betting on ONE Championship

There are sportsbooks that accept wagers on ONE Championship fights. Typically, ONE hosts monthly events.  Odds are typically not made public until just before the fights. It’s uncommon for ONE Championship odds to be released weeks in advance of one of their events.

When betting ONE events, it’s advisable to act swiftly if you notice anything interesting. Like other organizations, ONE Championship odds will adjust dramatically on the day of an event as more people place bets. 

Professional Boxing

There are four organizations that sanction professional boxing title fights. The World Boxing Association (WBA) is the oldest of the four having started in 1920. The other three are the International Boxing Federation (IBF), the World Boxing Council (WBC), and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). 

A boxer is the undisputed champion in his weight class if he holds the distinction in each of the four organizations.

Boxing and betting have a long history. The two essentially have gone together since the beginnings of the sport in the U.S. With sports betting outlawed in most of the U.S., fights were moved to the one spot where gambling was allowed – Las Vegas, Nevada.

Like MMA, boxing offers bettors a wide range of bets from which to choose. When leaning how to bet on fighting, you should become familiar with them all. The most popular wager is, of course, on a fighter to win a match. There are many others and finding the best bets in fighting requires some work. 

Choosing the Right Boxing or MMA Fighters

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the various fighting styles might provide novice MMA bettors a competitive edge over the bookmaker. The win and loss percentages of a fighter as well as their ranking position should be taken into account when placing MMA wagers. Statistical analysis continues to be a potent betting tool because MMA is still developing as a sport.

Once you’re comfortable with the fundamentals of MMA betting, you may examine more in-depth statistics to uncover value in wagers on things like takedown success or defense. They are listed on major MMA websites or the official UFC website.

Understanding whether a fighter is more of a grappler than a striker is important in MMA. In boxing, a fighter may have a powerful jab. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of individual fighters can help bettors find value and choose the right fighters and the right bets.

Combat Training and Preparation

MMA fighters and boxers can frequently be seen practicing or sparring. There is constantly news and analysis about how they get ready for a particular fight. When learning how to bet on fighting, MMA or boxing, bettors can profit from having this information.

The condition of the fighters’ training partners should be considered as well. For example, a fighter might train with elite competitors from a different sport (such as wrestling or judo) or even with excellent sparring partners in their own style. Depending upon the training partners, a fighter may gain an advantage over his opponent. Again, bettors can make better betting decisions with this information.

Of course, the caliber of the trainers should also be considered in addition to training partners. Some trainers, like John Kavanagh, are renowned for turning their fighters into elite professionals. Others, like Ronda Rousey’s coach Edmond Tarverdyan, have come under fire for allegedly putting their fighters’ potential to the test.

Injuries & Weight 

The fighter’s pre-fight weight is something bettors should pay attention to. The pre-fight weight is an indicator. A fighter that is naturally heavier may find it difficult to gain an early advantage, for instance. How does that fighter perform after having lost any number of pounds?

Conor McGregor is a good illustration of this. When he first fought Nate Diaz, McGregor moved up from 145 to 170 pounds. Between the weigh-in and the fight itself, McGregor moved to his more natural weight of 169. Moving up and staying around his natural weight allowed McGregor to be more powerful and, as a result, he beat Diaz. Understanding this concept is helpful to MMA bettors.

The other thing to watch is injuries. Despite their claims to the contrary, fighters frequently conceal injuries in order to avoid drawing attention from their opponents. This inevitably conceals information from bettors. 

As a result, bettors should always look at probable injuries. Whether they are reported or not, bettors should dig into a fighter’s pre-fight prep. There may be something there that indicates an injury that could play a huge role in the outcome of the fight. 

MMA Combative Styles

There is much to learn about the many combat styles, including which ones are superior to others. But there is one obvious reality. The UFC has long been dominated by wrestlers. The majority of the top competitors in the majority of divisions have experience in either wrestling or jiu-jitsu, as can be seen by taking a closer look at them.

This implies that having strength as a wrestler provides you some advantages; it does not indicate that a boxer or a kickboxer cannot defeat a wrestler. 

In any case, here are some straightforward pointers for beginners. Make sure to delve deep into the backgrounds of both fighters when assessing a match. If you open Wikipedia, you’ll notice that a fighter is a wrestler, but it just relates to what he was most successful at when he first began. Fighters develop over time and frequently alter their fighting methods. Therefore, a simple source like Wikipedia is insufficient.

During your analysis, you should also take a few easy elements into account. Consider a matchup between a great wrestler and a terrific boxer. The boxer will attempt to keep the fight on the feet, while the wrestler will attempt submissions right away. Which style has a better chance of winning?

The answer is in statistics like takedown defense. A single takedown can put an end to the fight quickly, thus if the boxer is a bad wrestler, the other fighter will have a better chance of winning. The wrestler will, however, have a difficult time if the boxer has a strong takedown defense and has not been taken down frequently in prior fights.

Look for expert analysis rather than performing your own. Numerous MMA websites offer these services along with forecasts about the final results. It will save the bettor time and work and help bettors make wiser decisions. 

How to Bet on Fighting

UFC has become extremely popular over the last decade or so. From its early days without any weight classes until now, the sport has grown tremendously. It has also become a niche sport for bettors.

Boxing is very similar, though its history is longer. Like MMA, boxing has various weight classes as well. 

One thing has remained constant in both sports. UFC and boxing bettors have found their sports as ways to make some serious money. Betting on fighting is not only fun. It can be profitable as well. That’s why it is important to learn how to bet on fighting.

Picking the Fight Winner

The absolute easiest way to bet on UFC or boxing is by placing a bet on a fighter to win a match. It’s a simple moneyline bet on one of two fighters.

Take the following as an example.

                     Derek Brunson       +140

                     Jared Cannonier     -170

Cannonier is the favorite and a bettor would have to wager $170 to win $100. It doesn’t matter how the fighter wins or when he earns the victory. As long as the fighter you bet on wins, the bet is a winner. If Cannonier knocks Brunson out in the first round or wins by split decision, a $170 bet pays out $100.

UFC and boxing bettors can also find a 3-way moneyline bet. The 3-way moneyline includes the possibility of a draw. Not many UFC fights end up in a draw. In fact, only 1.7 percent of UFC fights end in a draw, but bettors can take a chance on it in the 3-way moneyline. 

Using the same example from above, we have Cannonier, Brunson, and now the draw is listed at a very long +8000. The draw will always have long odds as it is so unlikely. It’s a high-risk, high-reward type of bet. A $100 bet on the draw would pay out $8,000.

                     Derek Brunson       +140

                     Jared Cannonier     -170

                 Draw                       +8000

Round Totals

Just like in other sports, boxing and UFC bettors can wager on totals. Here, they bet on the Over/Under on how many rounds a fight will last.

In the UFC, for example, three-round fights typically are assigned a total of 1.5 rounds. Five-round fights are usually set at 2.5. These numbers can vary though, and the important thing to note is that when a fight ends in a round is crucial.

Say the total is set at 2.5 rounds for a given UFC fight. Each round in a UFC bout lasts five minutes. If a bettor wagered on the Over, the fight would have to go past the 2:30 mark of the third round. When the fight is stopped determines the total.

If a fight was stopped as the result of a knockout and it happened at the 3:00 minute mark of the third round, Over bettors would cash in their bets. If you really want to be successful, round totals are important when you lean how to bet on fighting.

Go the Distance

While not as popular a bet as the Round Totals, bettors can wager on whether or not a fight will go the distance. Again, UFC fights are usually three or five rounds. Boxing matches can go as high as 12 or 15 rounds. 

Bettors looking at this wager should understand the difference between Round Totals and Go the Distance. These are two different bets with different sets of odds. The differences between the two wagers are very subtle and could be the difference between a win or a loss.

Essentially though, if you bet on a fight to go the distance and the fighters complete all of the rounds available in the fight, you would win your bet.

How to Bet on Fighting – Method of Victory

Another interesting fighting bet is on how a fight ends or the method of victory. Bouts can end in a number of ways including decision (unanimous, split, majority), technical decision, draw, KO/TKO, or submission. This is true in both boxing and mixed martial arts.

Bets in this category are similar to the Fight Winner. It’s a moneyline bet and would look like this.

         Fight Outcome                              Derek Brunson      Jared Cannonier

         KO, TKO, Submission, DQ            +650                        +160

         Decision or Technical Decision      +450                        +150

Because a bettor chooses the winner and the method of victory, the odds are more favorable to gain a larger payout. When betting on a fight winner, remember that Cannonier was the favorite at -170. In this category, we get better odds on Cannonier if we choose how he wins the fight.

If we like Cannonier to win by decision, we can get a $150 payout on a $100 bet. However, Cannonier must win by either decision or technical decision.

Fighting Futures

Just like other sports, it is possible to bet on long-term events in the UFC and in boxing. The most popular type of UFC futures bet is on which fighter will be the champion of a certain weight class at the end of a given period of time. That is usually the end of the calendar year.

Let’s take the welterweight class as an example. Bettors could choose from any one of several solid candidates to bet the welterweight belt title holder at the end of the year.

         To Be Welterweight Champion at End of Year

                     Israel Adesanya                  -160

                     Robert Whittaker                 +425

                     Marvin Vettori                      +700

                     Jared Cannonier                 +750

                     Jack Hermansson              +1200

                     Darren Till                           +2200

Bettors can fight great values in many of the UFC futures categories. Bettors can also take advantage of boxing title fights. The bouts are announced so far in advance that futures markets open in a number of categories. The most popular, of course, is a wager on the winner of the fight. If you ask how to bet on fighting, this is the most basic of it all.

Fighting Prop Bets

Prop bets in UFC fighting – as well as boxing – are those that are not related to a total or any type of moneyline betting. They are popular as they give bettors more ways to bet on fights. Anyone looking to learn how to bet on fighting must know all about props.

Some of these include bets on the final point spread. Fighters are awarded points for each round. If a fight goes the distance and a decision is to be made, the fighter with the higher point total is typically the winner. Because the rounds are scored, bettors can then bet on a given point spread.

Another fighting prop bet is on whether or not players will touch their gloves before the fight. There are more UFC prop bets like these and they will vary by sportsbook. Some sportsbooks will not have many, if any at all, prop bets for fighting sports. Others will have several.

Prop bets are just one of the many ways that UFC bettors can enjoy betting on fights. UFC offers great opportunities for smart bettors. UFC underdogs have won 35 percent of their fights over the last eight years. Underdogs between +186 and +150 have won 41 percent of the time.

We hope this helped answer your questions on how to bet on fighting. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks for betting the UFC, boxing and other fighting events.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
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Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.