an MMA fighter

How to Place UFC Bets: Your Guide to UFC & MMA Betting & Odds


Thanks to the exhilarating entertainment UFC offers to the MMA acolytes, the organization has emerged as one of the most popular sporting companies on the planet. Gaining considerable prominence in the past decade or so, UFC has transformed a number of fighters into household names, including Chuck Lidell, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, Dustin Poirier, Kamaru Usman, and of course, Conor McGregor to name a few.

To ramp up the excitement that arises when watching an exciting, brutal fight, you can start placing UFC bets. Every takedown, kick, and strike is suddenly charged with fear/joy when you have a stake in the action.

However, placing UFC bets can be a little minefield in the nascent legal sports betting section. Laden with bizarre figures and jargon, placing a bet on a UFC fight can be quite confusing. So, here’s our handy guide on placing UFC bets:

Professional UFC betting strategies

Training partners, coaches, and fight camps

The support system around the fighter is probably the most overlooked area of information when punters are betting on the UFC for money. When making your picks, the cliché phrase, ‘iron sharps iron’ should be at the top of your mind.

There’s a lot of research you can do on training partners, coaches, and fight camps. Use the information listed below and implement it consistently to become better at placing UFC bets:

  • Where did they train? If they’ve been training at an area with elevation, their cardio may give them an edge, especially if the fight is at a similar place.
  • Did the fighter make any changes to their fight camp this time? Are those changes positive or negative?
  • How good are the coaches at devising a winning strategy? Do the coaches have a winning record across every fighter they train?
  • How similar are their trainers to the fighter they’ll be fighting? While training with a number of high-quality strikers is incredible, it won’t be of much use if the fight is against a top-class wrestler.
  • How effective are their training partners? Are they training with some of the best fighters in the business?

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jumping ropes

Favorites vs. underdogs in the UFC

Whether or not you should bet on the underdog is one of the biggest debates in the UFC betting community — and while we think you should look at all fights independently, there’s a lot you can glean from looking at certain statistics.

Overall in the last eight years, the underdog has won 35% of the time in the UFC.

You won’t see much of an edge on either side once you adjust what you might make for the odds, which supports our argument to look at every fight independently.

With that being said, you may begin to draw some conclusions when you view the ROI based on how big of an underdog or favorite the fighter was.

  • Fighters in between +150 and +122 to win are 270-331 — this is good for a win rate of 45%. Since the implied probability of the odds comes out as 42%, you’ll see a 3% ROI if you place bets on all of these underdogs.
  • Fighters in between +186 and +150 to win are 192-275 — this is good for a win rate of 41%. Since the implied probability of the odds comes out as 37%, you’ll see a 4% ROI if you place bets on all of these underdogs.
  • You’ll see a positive ROI for all fighters when considering the favorite side of things:
    • -900 or over: 1% ROI
    • -567 to -900: 4% ROI
    • -400 to -567: 1% ROI
    • -300 to -400: 2% ROI
    • -233 to -300: 2% ROI
    • -186 to -233: 1% ROI
    • -186 or better

a person wrapping bandage

There will be a favorite and an underdog in most of the UFC fights you’ll be betting on. When it’s a tossup or the odds are close, use your go-to UFC betting strategies. However, if there’s a significant underdog or favorite, use the tips below to analyze those fights:

  • Be wary of the hype train. The media and the announcers have to make a fight sound interesting, even if they believe the contest will be one-sided.
  • Calculate the implied probabilityof every fighter winning. This is the best way to determine whether or not one side of the bet is wise.
  • Realistically, can you spot a path to victory for the underdog? Don’t bet if you can’t articulate how the underdog is going to win.

In search of the best UFC betting websites? Betting Sites Ranking can help!

Betting on fighters who didn’t make weight

To compete, UFC fighters are required to make a specific weight. This guarantees that the fight is a fair one. If an opponent misses weight, they’re usually given a few hours to make that weight. When they can’t make it, the other fighter decides if they still want to fight or not. In such a case, the fighter who didn’t make weight has to give up a good chunk of their payday.

Keep the following points in mind when it comes to betting on or against fighters that didn’t make weight:

  • Does the fighter have a history of not making weight? If not, find out what’s different this time. If yes, how was their performance in those fights?
  • To what extent will the weight difference affect the fight? When it comes to the clinch and the ground game, bigger fighters may have more control. However, extra weight may also affect cardio.
  • Did they miss weight by a lot? If yes, ask more questions. Did they have an undisciplined, lazy training camp? Did they have an undisclosed injury?
  • Were they extremely close to making weight? If yes, it’s possible they attempted to make weight and have drained a lot of energy trying to get there.

Over the last eight years, fighters who didn’t make weight in the UFC went 51-48 — the fighter who made weight won the contest 53% of the time. If you placed a bet of $10 on all fighters that didn’t make weight, you’ll be down about -7% ROI, which is $73.

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a man wearing UFC gloves

Focus on value

The ability to spot and take advantage of value is what separates rookie bettors from the pros. Just because you ‘believe’ a fighter will win doesn’t mean it’s a smart bet. You should be in a position to win enough money to cover the bet’s risk.

Based on the probability of the wager happening, when you find UFC bets that pay more money than they should, you’ve found an incredible value bet. Here’s an example:

Suppose Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor have an upcoming fight. Here are the odds of the fight:

Donald Cerrone: +120

Conor McGregor: -140

If you think McGregor is going to win, will that be a smart bet? Well, it depends. There are a couple of ways to figure this out. First, you devise an algorithm that tells you the likelihood that each fighter is going to win. You may compare the findings of the available odds to your algorithm and look for discrepancies, which is what we call value.

The second is a little less mathematical way of doing it — ask yourself, if both fighters were to fight hundred times, how many times would each fighter win? For example, you believe that if these two fought hundred times, McGregor would win 65 of those times, which leads to a percentage of 65%.

Now, use an online calculator to convert the payout odds to an implied probability. This tells you that -140 is equivalent to a probability of 58.3%. This means, assuming your 65% prediction is right, you have a good bet.

 a man in yellow shorts

While you’ll be getting paid as if the bet is only going to win 58% of the time, realistically, it’ll be happening 65% of the time. This means you’ll be winning more than you should, and therefore, be making more money in the long run.

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UFC betting tips for beginners

Been a while since you’ve placed a UFC bet? New to betting on UFC fights? Read our most important UFC betting strategies and tips for beginners.

Note that just because these are labeled for newer bettors doesn’t mean professional, more serious bettors can’t use these.

Don’t get sucked into a false hype train

UFC fights are exciting — this isn’t just because of the action but also because of the backstories that happen outside of the octagon.

MMA media and the announcers have one job: to get you hyped up and entertain you. This means you may witness a huge push behind a fighter who has an intriguing story (such as a comeback). However, the excitement may not match up with the actual probability of that fighter winning.

Shop lines at the best UFC betting sites

Getting the right UFC odds to decide how much you can win and whether or not you should make a bet is important. However, different UFC sportsbooks have different odds on the same bet.

T-Mobile Arena

Before betting on a UFC fight, get a good look at some sportsbooks to see the odds they’re providing. If you can set yourself up for a greater potential profit on the same bet, it’s a great move in the right direction.

Review your betting slips for accuracy

Regardless of whether you take advantage of one of the best UFC betting sites or choose to bet in person, checking your tickets for accuracy is key.

Before and once you make a bet, take some time to check that everything is good to go.

Check to see if you’ve chosen the correct event, the odds are right, there’s no issue with the amount, and you’re on the right side of the bet.

Don’t fully depend on statistics

While statistics are always important, statistics don’t usually tell the entire picture. Ensure you’re looking for the intangibles that may affect a fight’s outcome.

In addition, ensure you’re choosing the right stats.

For instance, if the overall takedown defense numbers of a UFC fighter look awesome but they haven’t fought good wrestlers, this statistic may be misleading.

Don’t place your bet on every fight

Disregard this tip if your only goal of betting on the UFC is to have fun. If you’re looking to make profitable UFC bets, pay attention. Only bet on fights when the odds support a positive expected value move or you have a clear prediction on what you think will happen.

This means you may pass on a popular fight or a big main event. Don’t make a bet if you don’t have an edge.

MMA trainers

Don’t ignore the importance of value

Making money on UFC bets isn’t just about choosing who is going to win or lose — you should understand that every bet won’t pay out the same amount of money. While there will be scenarios where you’ll think a particular fighter is going to win, it’ll not be a smart bet.

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Types of UFC bets

Before you look to beat the book and master bets, you should understand your options.

Let’s look at some of the most common UFC bets, specific betting tips for these types of bets, how available they are, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

UFC picks and parlays

This is a type of bet in which you group together multiple individual bets into just one bet. To win the parlay bet, winning every individual bet is mandatory. If you lose even one individual bet, you’ll lose the whole bet. Fortunately, many online betting sites allow you to parlay UFC bets with bets from other sports if you want to:

  • Benefit:Chance to win big on a small wager
  • Drawback:Difficult to win, especially on parlays with several legs
  • Availability:Extremely popular and available on almost every UFC betting app
  • Betting tip:Once you make a UFC parlay bet, prepare yourself for playing it out without hedging. Most UFC bettors make a parlay and then want to hedge to lock up profit before the last fight. Don’t bet on the last fight if that’s your plan.

 a man training at an elevation

Exact round finish

When you have accurate predictions, you have opportunities to get paid big. The exact round finish is one of the best-paying UFC bets. With this bet, all you have to do is identify the round at which the fight is going to end. You’ll win big if you predict this successfully. Most UFC betting sites also need you to pick the winner. When that’s the case, the payouts increase.

  • Benefit:Huge payouts for an accurate prediction
  • Drawback:You should be right on target to win
  • Availability:This is somewhat popular and is available on the best UFC betting sites and some mid-tier options.
  • Betting tip:If you think that a fight may end between two specific rounds, you can bet both and still bag a healthy profit. Yes, you may lose one bet, but if the other one pays well, you’ll go home with a decent earning. But keep in mind that if you lose both, you’ll lose double.

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Method of victory

Choose a method of victory wager if you’re good at predicting how the fight will end. While some sportsbooks allow you to bet on just the method of victory without having to select a winner, other sportsbooks need you to select the fight’s winner and the method of victory. The latter doesn’t just pay better, it’s the most popular too.

  • Benefit:Unique way to capitalize on an accurate prediction
  • Drawback:Difficult to win
  • Availability:Unfortunately, it isn’t very popular. In fact, only the best UFC betting sites have it.
  • Betting tip:While bettors may not win this bet as frequently as they would like, it’s going to pay a lot better when you win. Don’t ignore this type of bet, especially when you clearly understand how the fight will pay out.

Go the distance

a man wearing UFC gloves

In this type of bet, you wager on whether a UFC fight will stop early or go the distance — end of the final round.

  • Benefit:Punters with good fight length predictions will love this type of bet.
  • Drawback:Certain online betting sites have unique rules if the fight stops for an unexpected reason such as a disqualification.
  • Availability:This isn’t very popular and not all UFC betting sites have this option.
  • Betting tip:If you’re placing this type of bet, know the benefits and drawbacks of ‘go the distance’ and over/under bets. While the differences are subtle, choosing the right type of bet can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful bet.

Round over/under

This type of UFC bet allows you to bet on how long the fight will last. On 3-round bouts, a line is generally set at 1.5 or 2.5 rounds. For the wager, you can choose whether the fight will go over that line (longer) or under that line (shorter).

For instance, if a fight has a line for over/under 2.5 rounds, an over bet means the fight lasts to a decision or at least the halfway point of the third round. Similarly, an under bet means the fight ends before the third round’s halfway point.

It doesn’t matter who wins the fight or how. Plus, these bets provide different payouts based on betting popularity and likelihood, similar to UFC moneyline bets.

an MMA trainer

  • Benefit:Allows you to bet on the fight’s flow without needing to choose a winner.
  • Drawback:Similar to moneyline bets, you should understand the value to win long term.
  • Availability:Extremely popular, available at a number of UFC betting sites.
  • Betting tip:Over/under set in a fight’s last round are at the halfway point. This means if you go with under because you think the fight won’t last to a decision and if you’re right, you’ll still lose if the end of the fight is after the halfway point. If you can give up a little of the payout potential and get that last half of the round, choosing the ‘go the distance’ bet will make more sense, which includes the last round’s second half for the over.

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This is a type of bet where a punter decides which fighter will win the contest — it doesn’t matter when they win or how they win. You’ll win the bet as long as the fighter wins the bout. But note that the payout will change based on the probability of that individual winning and how the public will be betting.

If a fighter is an underdog and the public isn’t willing to bet on them, expect a bigger potential payout. However, if a fighter is a clear favorite to win and the public is willing to bet heavily on them, a lower potential payout may be expected.

  • Benefit:Simple, easy-to-understand UFC bet.
  • Drawback:To be a long-term winner, you must be able to spot value.
  • Availability:It’s one of the most popular UFC bets and is available everywhere.
  • Betting tip:Understanding the risk versus reward in terms of how much you’ll win for a successful bet is the key to winning UFC moneyline bets. Remember, your bet won’t be called a smart bet just because you believe a specific fighter has the upper hand.

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