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Aug 29, 2017
Aug 29, 2017

How to bet on MMA: The Ultimate Guide to MMA betting

How to bet on MMA: The rules of the sport explained

Understanding the basics of MMA betting

Analysing the different fighting styles in MMA

Advanced strategy for MMA betting

How to bet on MMA: The Ultimate Guide to MMA betting

MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. As such, understanding how to bet on MMA is a useful skill for any bettor. Since the 1990s, the sport has wowed audiences worldwide and now attracts a much higher volume of MMA betting. Read on to learn how to bet on MMA and find value in the odds.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a combat sport that has grown hugely in popularity since the 1990s. It allows punches, kicks, elbows, knees and grappling, inviting a number of different fighting styles and strategies.

If you know how to bet on boxing, similarities can be drawn when learning how to bet on MMA. That said, there are several key differences which make the sport stand out and should be taken into consideration.

How to bet on MMA – The rules of the sport

The first step of learning how to bet on MMA is understanding the rules of the sport. An MMA bout involves five-minute long rounds. The majority of matches last three rounds, while title fights (or fights given special dispensation) last five. The outcomes are similar to that of boxing, with one exception – the submission.

Since the 1990s, the sport has wowed audiences worldwide and now attracts a much higher volume of MMA betting.

While fighters can be knocked out, disqualified, win via technical knockout (a referee stoppage) or on points, they can also take the fight to the ground. This is where fighters use various methods to force their opponent to submit. An opponent can do so by ‘tapping out’ when they feel there is no way out of their current situation.

In order to allow more room for wrestling and kicking, MMA takes place inside an ‘octagon’ or ‘cage’ rather than a ring – usually measuring 30 feet across and six feet high.

As with boxing, professional MMA bouts are split into men’s and women’s divisions spanning several weight classes. Divisions depend on the organisation; by far the biggest is the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), an organisation that has become synonymous with the name of the sport, but you can also bet on Bellator MMA.

UFC weight classes

UFC Male Weight Classes UFC Female Weight Classes
Strawweight 115 lb (52.2kg) Strawweight 115 lb (52.2kg)
Flyweight 125 lb (56.7 kg) - -
Bantamweight 135 lb (61.2 kg) Bantamweight 135 lb (61.2 kg)
Featherweight 145 lb (65.8 kg) Featherweight 145 lb (65.8 kg)
Lightweight 155 lb (70.3 kg) - -
Welterweight 170 lb (77.1 kg) - -
Middleweight 185 lb (83.9 kg) - -
Light Heavyweight 205 lb (93.0 kg) - -
Heavyweight 265 lb (120.2kg) - -

NOTE: In amateur MMA, there is a super heavyweight category for male fighters exceeding 265 lb (120.2kg).

MMA betting - Available markets

Pinnacle offers the best odds on MMA betting and the next step of learning how to bet on MMA is to understand which markets are available. The UFC and Bellator typically hold their biggest events once every few weeks, with smaller fights taking place more regularly. The two main MMA markets at Pinnacle are:

Money Line

Just like Money Line betting in tennis or the NFL, the Money Line in MMA betting simply refers to who will win the match.

Total Rounds

The Total Rounds market involves betting on whether a fight will last over or under a certain amount of rounds. The bookmaker will set a figure for how many rounds the fight could last (e.g. 2.5); due to the small number of rounds in MMA, this can often mean deciding on whether a fight will last the distance or not.

MMA betting – Different fighting styles

In order to bet on both the Money Line and Total Rounds markets, it is important for MMA bettors to familiarise themselves with the different fighting styles and strategies used by athletes. In practice, mixed martial arts is a combination of a number of influences. These include but are not limited to:

  • Boxing
  • Muay Thai
  • Kickboxing
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Judo
  • Wrestling
  • Karate
  • Taekwondo
  • Capoeira

When learning how to bet on MMA, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different styles can help bettors gain an edge on the bookmaker. For example, a fighter who prefers taking his opponent to the ground may be happier to see a fight go the distance (resulting in a higher amount of rounds).

When learning how to bet on MMA, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different styles can help bettors gain an edge on the bookmaker.

If they are facing an opponent whose strength lies in their striking, however, that fighter may look for a knockout earlier in the bout rather than risk losing on points. Particular fighting styles will also be better or less suited to others. For instance, a boxer may struggle against a wrestler, particularly if the fight keeps going to the ground.

Other, more basic factors to consider in MMA betting are a fighter’s win-loss record and their ranking status. With MMA still growing as a mainstream sport, statistical or strategic research remains a powerful betting tool.

Once you feel confident with the basics of MMA betting, you can analyse more in-depth statistics to help you find value, such as takedown accuracy & defence or striking accuracy. These can be found on the UFC’s official website or authoritative MMA sites such as sherdog.com.

Advanced MMA Betting Strategy

When delving further into MMA betting, what matters most is what makes you profitable - not necessarily which bets will win. A prime example is Demetrious Johnson, who won his 13th fight in a row at UFC 216. Many successful or ‘sharp’ bettors will have avoided betting on him simply because he was likely to win if they didn’t have an edge over the bookmaker.

Similarly, it can be less productive to bet on every fight on an MMA card as the main card alone can have four fights, with the undercard adding a further eight (sometimes showcasing rookies). Indeed, it is virtually impossible to conduct a huge amount of research for every single fighter in the UFC or Bellator and their matchups.

MMA betting - Pre-fight preparations

Knowledge of pre-fight preparations can also aid bettors. Mixed martial artists can often be watched during their training or sparring sessions, while there will always be constant news and analysis of how they prepare for a certain fight. This is valuable information bettors can capitalise on when learning how to bet on MMA.

When analysing a fighter’s preparations, the calibre of their training partners are worth consideration. For example, they may train with high-quality sparring partners or even top athletes from another discipline (e.g. wresting or judo). Alongside training partners, naturally, come coaches. Some, such as Jon Kavanagh, are known for raising the game of their fighters; others, like Ronda Rousey’s trainer Edmond Tarverdyan, have been criticised for limiting theirs.

Pre-fight preparations in MMA betting are just as important as in boxing betting.

How to bet on MMA - Travel and altitude

An overlooked aspect of MMA is the distance a fighter has to travel – as well as the altitude of the fight venue. While this may not always be a game-changing variable, MMA fights take place everywhere from Ireland and Brazil to New York and the desert heat of Las Vegas. The conditions and altitude of each location have an impact on fighters’ cardio levels.

Further to weight is the effect injuries have on MMA fighters, whether they admit it or not.

Equally, how far a fighter has to travel can affect them, especially if their training camp is based far from where the fight itself takes place. The impact of this is heightened if a fighter travels very close to the start of the event, limiting their period of adjustment.

More generally, it is also important to analyse the different dynamics of someone taking a fight on as a short-notice replacement.

MMA Betting - Making weight and injuries

Elsewhere, those pursuing advanced MMA betting will have to consider the weight a fighter has made, how well they have made it and what it means for their upcoming fight. For instance, a naturally heavier fighter may struggle to make the cut for a lightweight bout, putting their body through a lot to do so. How would this then impact their performance in the octagon?

When delving further into MMA betting, what matters most is what makes you profitable - not necessarily which bets will win. This can be seen in the fights of Demetrious Johnson.

A good example is Conor McGregor. Although his talent and ability meant he rarely faced a problem in lower weight divisions, when he first faced Nate Diaz, the opposite occurred: McGregor went up from 145lbs to the 170lb weight category. Diaz, though, weighed in at 169lb, then returning to his natural weight in the time between the weigh-in and the fight. This created a huge advantage.

Further to weight is the effect injuries have on MMA betting. Fighters may claim they are 100 per cent fit but often hide injuries not to expose them to opponents. Naturally, this hides information from bettors, as well. When researching a fighter’s pre-match preparation, it is therefore always useful to examine potential injuries even when none are supposed to exist.

Now that you’ve learned how to bet on MMA, you can take advantage of the best MMA odds online at Pinnacle.

Betting Resources - Empowering your betting

Pinnacle’s Betting Resources is one of the most comprehensive collections of expert betting advice anywhere online. Catering to all experience levels our aim is simply to empower bettors to become more knowledgeable.