When MMA and the UFC first started getting popular, the betting lines were nothing short of horrendous. If a fighter had any sort of name recognition, you could expect the line to open with them as a favorite and the public to hammer on them as hard as humanly possible. This made for some incredibly lopsided lines and incredible betting opportunities when an up and comer who was a much better fighter stepped into the cage.
Things are not as juicy as they were when MMA first started exploding, but they’re still pretty great. You won’t find a bad line in every single fight like you would back then, but you can still find a ton of value where it probably shouldn’t exist. This means that if you’re even slightly knowledgeable about the sport, you can find opportunities to make a lot of money betting the fights.
In this article, I’d like to point out some of the reasons that these bad lines still exist. Knowing the source of the value will help you to spot it much easier. Additionally, it will probably help to protect you from being one of the knuckleheads I’m going to talk about when I get to talking about the MMA betting public.
It’s a Newer Sport
Probably the most obvious reason that bad lines still exist is because the sport is new. Yes, people have been fighting in arenas since the Roman times, but present-day MMA didn’t really become a thing until the early 1990s. Even then, it was not mainstream and didn’t see its explosion until the past decade or so.
What does this mean? Well, it means that the sportsbooks are still figuring things out. Remember, someone somewhere has to make the initial opening lines for the fights. With sports like the NFL or MLB baseball, the brains (the people who set the lines) have everything figured out. Their opening lines are rarely off and when they are it’s not by much.
But with MMA, they’re still trying to figure things out. As the sport ages, they will get better with things, but in the meantime, it creates some opportunities for you to hit some opening lines that really aren’t that great.
Uneducated Fans are the Majority
Once a line opens, it is no longer controlled by the sportsbook. Yes, they are the ones who actually change the lines, but they do it based on the bets being made by the betting public.
Let’s talk about the betting public. How do I put this gently? Actually, let me just tell you a story to try and make my point. Have you ever been to a Hooters or other local bar during a UFC fight? On a scale from 1 to “Unable to tie their shoes,” how would you rate the MMA knowledge of the people watching the fights?
I’ll give you the spoiler in case you’re curious. I wonder how they ever make it out of the house without tripping over their shoelaces. These are the people that are betting on MMA and UFC fights. These are the people that are driving the direction of the lines that you’re using to find value. I sometimes wonder if any of them have ever seen a fight or can spell MMA.
The betting public in any sport is notoriously not that educated, and in MMA they are especially lacking in the sharp betting knowledge. This creates opportunities for you. When they freak out and react too aggressively to news stories, you get value opportunities. When they fall victim to a feelgood story and ignore the facts, you get value opportunities. When they don’t understand how two styles will work against each other and they just take the word of their favorite commentator, you get value opportunities.
To be clear, I am not trying to make fun of MMA fans. I’m not trying to call them stupid or anything like that. What I am trying to say, though, is that they are typically uneducated when it comes to betting on the sport and fully understanding what is going on. There’s nothing wrong with this. They most likely don’t have the adequate free time or sources of knowledge to understand the sport on a deeper level.
This creates big shifts in the line and great opportunities for you to pounce.
MMA is such an interesting sport because a lot of times the competitors fighting on a major card are brand new to the public spotlight. In other sports, only on the rarest occasions do we see someone take the big stage without years of experience with them already. For example, before anyone takes the stage in an NFL game we’ve most likely seen them at least play a few years in college on national TV.
But with MMA, fighters will be called up to the big stage in a moment’s notice seemingly out of nowhere. Now, of course, they are not just some random person that they pulled off the street. But to the casual fan and even the linemakers, they might be brand new.
This makes the linemaker’s job extremely tough. They have to try and scrounge for information as quick as possible and try and get a line out on time. As you might expect, this can create value opportunities for you. If you’re able to do some research and learn about this fighter, you’ll be able to see if the line that was put out or the line movement from the betting public is correct.
For the most part, the majority of bettors do little to no research. When the information is tougher to find, the percentage that do research drops even further closer to zero. If you’re willing to dig and put in the extra effort, you can find a lot of value. You just don’t see these types of opportunities to outwork your competition in other major sports.
Additionally, these smaller fights with lesser known fighters are going to have a much smaller betting pool than the main events or high-profile fights. This means that often you will see a lot of line movement because it will take smaller bet amounts to move the line. Again, this creates opportunity for you to find value.
If you’re someone who already bets MMA, this is probably not news to you. You’ve probably seen these value opportunities, and it’s what keeps you coming back for more. For those of you that don’t bet MMA, this might be a good wakeup call that it might be time to jump in and start trying to take advantage of these opportunities.
Make sure, though, that you take your time to do your homework before you bet. If you’re one of those fellas that scream in Hooters for armbars while the fighters are standing, take some time to educate yourself on the sport as much as possible before firing off your next bet.