The main thrust of all mixed martial arts betting involves the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or the UFC. There are insurgents that come along every so often that are not bought out by the UFC, such as Bellator, and they receive some exposure when they have a major event, but UFC betting easily trumps them in terms of number of wagers placed and the available markets.
The wagering model, for the most part, involves picking the winner of a fight. It is a simple money line. So a standard UFC betting card will look somewhat like this:
Fighter A -250
Fighter B +175
We assume you may know the fundamentals of this, but in case you don’t, if you are betting on Fighter A, you are “laying” $2.50 for every dollar you are looking to win. That means when you risk $10 you are going to get back four dollars of profit. Add your profit to the amount of the wager and you come up with the figure you will be returned by the sportsbook. That’s for a bet on the favorite.
If you bet Fighter B, you will win $1.75 for every $1 wagered. So you would get back $1.75 (the profit) plus $1 (the risk) for a total of $2.75.
There is obviously a wider line here than it might be on a baseball game, for instance, and it is up to the sportsbook’s discretion as to how wide it is going to be. There is by no means a standard way to compile it.
Over/under propositions are also carried by some sportsbooks, and they may take on this kind of look where you choose the number of rounds you think the fight will go.
Under 1.5 Rounds -200
Over 1.5 Rounds +170
Other Types of UFC Bet
It is a somewhat risky proposition for sportsbooks to deal in a knockout or submission prop, since a very high percentage of fights end that way. At the same time, keep in mind that there are fewer rounds in an MMA bout than there are in any boxing match you may be able to wager on. Undercard bouts are three rounds, with championship contests scheduled for five rounds. Generally speaking, money lines will be offered on both the undercard and the main card, where as “method of victory” bets will only be available on the main card and in some cases, only the main event.
And speaking of those undercard bouts, one major difference between boxing and the UFC is that the UFC aggressively promotes its undercards, and as a result the public has more familiarity with those fighters. In turn, they are going to attract wagering action, so you’ll find that almost all the fights on a UFC show will be on the board.
Two forms of proposition wager that are also frequently available are fight of the night and sub of the night. These simply involve picking which fight you believe will receive each award.
Late Lines and Finding Value
The UFC presents all of its events on television in one form or another, so odds on all of them are posted at most sportsbooks that take action on the sport. One thing worth noting is that while the lines for main card fights are usually released quite early, under card lines are not normally available until 24-48 hours before the fight takes place. 5dimes.eu is usually the first to post lines.
There are, of course, the pay-per-view shows, which generally have the highest quality fights, and then there are “Fight Nights” that are shown on Fox networks; the product of a massive television deal. Suffice it to say that all the events get their share of exposure, and are covered extensively by websites all over the internet.
Many of these sites engage in making predictions on fights, and some of them use the odds. But consider that the UFC audience skews younger than that of, say, boxing, and as a result there may not be a lot of understanding of the odds on the part of those who are making predictions. Therefore there may be some misinterpretation of where there is value and where there isn’t.
It is not all that unusual for underdogs to provide value in MMA betting, although this is becoming less common a phenomenon. Remember that this is a relatively young sport; in fact, the UFC in the form we know it has been in existence for just a little over a decade. One essential element to handicapping is to have evidence in the way of past performance, and fighters now have much more extensive resumes than they used to.
Still, that having been said, maybe your best bet could be to look at the undercard bouts as a way of getting value. Some of these matches are between fighters who don’t have as much in the way of experience, so there is less empirical evidence for an oddsmaker to base an evaluation on. There could be a chance, if you follow MMA closely, that you might know as much or more about the competitors than the oddsmaker does.
In many ways, betting on UFC fights is similar to boxing, in that styles sometimes dictate the way matches are going to turn out. If one fighter’s strength significantly plays into another fighter’s weakness, that should be a factor for consideration.
The UFC has its schedule, as well as its pay-per-view dates, as well as the main events on those shows, planned in advance, so it is not unusual for you to be able to wager on the major fights well before the competitors get into the Octagon.