As one of the fastest growing sports in the world, mixed martial arts creates an awesome opportunity for skilled sports bettors to make some serious money. Whether you’re brand new to the sport or a veteran fan, betting on mixed martial arts fights is something that requires you to think about the fights differently. Fights need to be approached and broken down systematically to ensure that you make the right predictions and place the correct bets to maximize your profits. On this page, we are going to walk you through some of the benefits of betting on mixed martial arts as well as several tips and strategies to help you master the betting process.
Benefits | Why You Should Bet on Mixed Martial Arts
We know you’re dying to get to the tips and strategies, but we wanted to give you a few reasons WHY you should want to bet on mixed martial arts. The reason we’re sharing these reasons is that once you understand them, you’ll start to see already the opportunities that are available and why betting mixed martial arts could be one of the more profitable ventures you undertake.
An Uneducated Public Creates Opportunities
As the sport is so new, most of the betting public is fairly ignorant when it comes to picking how fights are going to go. They are too easily swayed by the media and what they want to happen that they bet with their hearts instead of their minds. This causes a lot of betting lines to move significantly creating opportunities for an intelligent bettor to swoop in and make some serious money. We will discuss how to capitalize on these opportunities in the tips and strategies section below.
Bad Lines are More Common
Oddsmakers are usually masters at what they do. They are human, though, and are prone to making mistakes. These mistakes are much more common in mixed martial arts as the sport is fairly new and you don’t have veteran oddsmakers that have been setting lines for 50 years like you might in basketball and baseball. Most of them are probably oddsmakers from other sports that have shifted over and aren’t as expert as they probably should be. This creates opportunities for you to capitalize. It’s important to note that oddsmakers are getting a lot better at setting lines as the sport ages, but they still are prone to making mistakes.
What’s interesting about mixed martial arts is that the fighters are not as removed from regular society as professional athletes in other sports are. In other pro sports, the pros only train around their other pro teammates and are shrouded from the public eye. Mixed martial arts fighters, on the other hand, usually work out at gyms with recreational people working out, have normal jobs, and are much more accessible by the world. This allows for some interesting opportunities to research and learn more about the fighters when you’re looking to make picks.
The more information you have available, the more opportunities you have to develop a system of betting that is profitable. Also, there is more information than the odds makers really have time to sift through which means that if you’re willing to put in the extra work, you may be able to find edges they don’t have time to spot.
Tips and Strategies for Betting on Mixed Martial Arts Fights
Understand the Odds
If you’re brand new to sports betting or are used to betting games with point spreads, this may be a little different for you, but we’re going to walk you through it all. The most common bet type in a mixed martial arts fight is a bet on who is going to win the fight. Since you can’t really bet how many punches or kicks someone wins the fight by, you simply have to choose one fighter or the other. This sounds great if the two fighters are evenly matched, but what happens when one fighter is favored over the other fighter? If the sportsbooks just let you evenly bet on either fighter, everyone would pick the favorite, and the sportsbook would be out of money the next day.
Imagine if Brock Lesnar was going to fight Donald Trump. Clearly, Brock Lesnar is a “YUGE” favorite in that fight. If the sportsbook took even bets on this fight, everyone would bet on Lesnar, and the sportsbook would stand to lose a ton of money. So how does the sportsbook handle this?
The sportsbook attempts to get the same amount of money bet on both sides of a fight. They do this by offering better or worse payouts on each of the fighters. If too much money starts to come in on one fighter, they will adjust those payout odds to try and entice money to be bet on the other fighter. This dance continues until the fight starts, and the sportsbook hopes to have the same amount of money on either side. This way, they make money no matter who wins the fight.
Here’s what the odds might look like from our example from above. (In reality, they would probably be worse than this for Trump, but you’ll get the idea at least).
- Brock Lesnar -3000
- Donald Trump +3020
Each fighter has their own odds to win the fight. The odds are composed of a plus or minus sign followed by a number. The plus sign indicates that a fighter is an underdog and a minus sign indicates that a fighter is the favorite. The number following the plus or minus sign indicates how big of a favorite or underdog the fighter is. The odds are used to show how much you will get paid if the fighter you select actually wins the fight.
- As an underdog (+), the larger the number, the MORE you will get paid if they win.
- As a favorite (-), the larger the number, the LESS you will get paid if they win.
This should make perfect sense as the more likely something is to happen, the less you should be rewarded for it occurring. On the flip side, the less likely something is to happen, the more you should be paid for betting on it.
At the above odds, if you were to place a $100 bet on each fighter, here are the payouts if they won.
- $100 on Brock Lesnar to win at -3000 would pay a profit of $3.33.
- $100 on Donald Trump to win at +3020 would pay a profit of $3020.00.
It’s important that you understand this because you need to be able to know when a fighter is a good value bet or not. If you think that a fighter is a big favorite, but the sportsbook has them listed as an underdog, that’s a great bet. You’ll be getting paid MORE than even money to bet on someone you think should be favored. Knowing this can also keep you from betting on someone that you think is going to win as well. If you think a fighter is probably going to win, but it’s close, and they are marked as a huge favorite, you won’t want to bet them. You’ll be getting paid LESS than even money on them.
The bottom line is to be able to understand when a fighter is listed as a favorite and when they are listed as an underdog. You should also be able to understand how much of a favorite or underdog they are listed as. Once you understand this, you can see if it matches up with your picks to win fights and be able to make smart bets.
Just because you think someone is going to win a fight does not mean they are necessarily a good bet. It’s all in the odds.
Now that you understand the importance of the odds on a fight, it should be easy for you to understand the importance of shopping lines. Shopping lines is the process of checking the odds offered at several different sportsbooks to see who is giving you the best odds for your bet. This is the key to being a successful sports bettor. It is very common for different sportsbooks to offer different odds on the exact same fight, especially in mixed martial arts. This is because the sportsbook is only concerned with getting even money on both sides of the fight at their sports book. They don’t care what is going on everywhere else. If everywhere else people are betting the fight one way, but at their sportsbook, they are betting the other way, their line is going to be significantly different than everyone else’s.
For example, let’s say Anderson Silva is fighting and you think he is clearly going to win an upcoming fight. The sportsbook you look at has him at -400, a huge favorite. While you are pretty sure he is going to win, you don’t really want to be risking $100 for the chance to profit only $25. You decide to shop lines and notice another sportsbook is offering the same fight but at -250. This means that you will be risking $100 to win $40 now instead of just $25. At this price, you think it’s a great bet. By just taking a few minutes to look at another sportsbook, you were able to turn a no-bet (a fight you wouldn’t bet) into a good opportunity for you to make some money.
If you are only betting at brick and mortar casinos and sportsbooks, you don’t have this luxury. This is the reason we are such big proponents of online sports betting as you can shop lines at a bunch of different sportsbooks in a matter of seconds.
Shopping lines is the key to any successful sports betting strategy. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Take Advantage of the Public | Watch for Moving Lines
As we’ve already alluded to, the betting public when it comes to mixed martial arts is notorious for not being the best at it. There’s a reason sportsbooks love to offer it, and it’s not because they want to be nice. The betting public has a strong propensity to follow media hype too much, bet with their hearts too often, and is known for not really knowing what is going on in fights. The media loves to hype up comeback stories and other great storylines because it allows them to sell tickets and pay per view packages. A lot of times this requires them to give more weight and a bigger chance of winning to a fighter than they actually have. As humans, we love these kinds of stories. The problem is that it’s easy to let these creep into our betting picks and into our wallet where they have no place. A side tip here is not to be that person that falls for this. Make sure you identify if a story is really going to have an effect on a fighter’s performance or if it’s just there to hype up the fight.
Because of all of this, the public has a tendency to bet heavily on fighters that maybe don’t warrant that much action. If you recall when we discussed odds, the sportsbook’s job is to continually move the betting lines to ensure the same amount of bets on both fighters. If the public starts heavily betting one fighter, the other fighter’s odds and associated payout is going to get a lot sweeter fast. For example, let’s look at our absurd Brock Lesnar versus Donald Trump example from above. Let’s say the news comes out and reports that Brock Lesnar’s girlfriend broke up with him and he’s absolutely devastated. The media starts to spin it that he’s probably going to be crying the entire time in the cage and Trump now might stand a chance. The public grabs hold of this and starts betting Trump like crazy. As the sportsbook now has to do something to try and get more bets on Lesnar, they adjust the odds to pay out more if he wins. Here’s what it might look like.
- Brock Lesnar -3000
- Donald Trump +3020
Odds after girlfriend story
- Brock Lesnar -2200
- Donald Trump +2320
The public has moved the line significantly with their betting based on a silly news story. The number of times this happens in the real world with real world examples is a lot higher than you might think. If you’re an intelligent bettor, you’ll see that this should have no effect on Lesnar’s performance and now you have a much sweeter bet to place on the obvious soon to be winner.
It’s important to make sure when taking advantage of moving betting lines that you choose the right time to bet. In the above example, it’s possible the public could keep hammering the line, and the bet could get even sweeter. In that situation, waiting could be beneficial if you think that is going to happen. In the above example, other pro bettors could notice the line change and could put a lot of money on Lesnar and instantly correct the line back to where it should be leaving you out in the cold. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide when you think the best time to bet is. If you decide that a line has moved as far as you think it will and you bet to lock it in, you can always make another bet if the odds get even better in your favor. You can also choose to wait if you think they will get better. The worse thing that will happen is the line corrects too quickly, and you just don’t bet that fight. You don’t lose any actual money, just an opportunity.
Taking advantage of moving lines is an art form that can really add to your bottom line. It’s all about timing. Thankfully the betting public will give you plenty of opportunities to profit.
Outside the Octagon Influences
We wanted to include this tip right after the previous one because it can easily be confused with what we just told you not to do. In the previous tip, we mentioned not following along with media trends that have no actual effect on a fighter’s performance. The key part of that phrase is “trends that have no actual effect.” There are going to be things that go on outside of the cage that do have an influence on the fighter and how they’re able to train and perform. The point here is that you need to be able to differentiate between the two and only pay attention to the ones that actually have an effect.
For example, if a fighter’s gym gets closed down and they have to go train somewhere else; that might be something that would actually have an effect on their training and performance. They would be out of their element, might not have the same equipment and training partners, and might have to take significant time off of training. This is an outside the cage story you are definitely going to want to weigh into your predictions and picks. A good example of something you don’t want to pay much attention to is trash talking. Just because a fighter is able to talk the talk does not mean they necessarily are going to be able to walk the walk as well. Effective trash talk could help to spark rage in their opponent, but for the most part, it is just something distracting that won’t have much of an influence on the fight.
The toughest stories are going to be the ones that you have to predict how it will affect someone. For example, our earlier example was a girlfriend or significant other breaking up with someone. For some people, this will just push them to train harder or not affect their work at all. For others, though, it may devastate them, and they may lose all motivation. It’s up to you to be able to decipher this and see if it is something that needs to be weighed into your picks.
Deciding if a media story or event will have an ACTUAL effect on a fighter’s performance is the key to properly utilizing media information.
Don’t Bet Every Fight
Sports bettors who are new or action junkies have a real bad tendency for wanting to or feeling like they have to bet every single fight. The problem with this is that there isn’t always a good bet on every fight. Yes, you can make the argument that you could pick the winner of every fight or take advantage of expected value (EV) errors in lines, but the problem with this is that the margins are so small that you’re better served to put more money on bigger edges and opportunities and to leave these near coin flips alone.
If you’re an action junkie, this could be an issue for you. If you’re looking actually to be profitable, look for good spots and press hard on those. You shouldn’t be betting fights that are toss-ups or that you don’t know much about the actual fighters involved. Remember, there are thousands of mixed martial arts fights every year and if you don’t bet on a few of them, you’re going to be ok.
Only bet a fight if you think it’s good value, and you have a strong and well thought out prediction on the outcome.
Don’t Bet Against Golden Boys
This one is a tip that is starting to change a bit but is definitely something worth mentioning. For a while, there was a profitable strategy that if you bet every single underdog EXCEPT anyone fighting Georges St. Pierre, Ronda Rousey, and Anderson Silva you would make money. The idea here is that you need to identify the fighters that are just THAT good and avoid betting against them. It could also be wise not to bet on them because most of the time the odds for their win won’t even be worth the risk.
This might sound like common sense, but a lot of people are lured into betting against these people with juicy odds of something that is never going to happen. For example, take a look at our silly example of Lesnar versus Trump. Some people might be tempted to bet Trump because of the massive payout they would receive for winning. The problem is, though, the massive payout exists because it is near impossible for this ever to happen. Avoiding falling into these traps is an important thing always to remember.
Don’t get blinded by big payouts for fighters that stand little chance of winning.
Know the Fight Location
There are two pieces to this tip that we want to look at. The first is looking at the characteristics of where the fight is taking place, specifically the altitude. Fighting in a city (or doing anything physical) that is way above sea level is immensely more difficult especially if you aren’t used to the lack of oxygen at that altitude. Fighters that don’t train in these environments and then fight there are highly susceptible to gassing out quickly and not performing to their normal abilities. If a fight is taking place in a high-altitude area, make sure to look at where the fighters are from and more importantly, where they are training. Some fighters will move their camps to a high-altitude area or to the fight location early to start getting acclimated.
Secondly, take a look at travel time and distance for each fighter. While this isn’t that big of a deal, it can still be something important to pay attention to. You can remember how jet lagged you feel after a long flight. Imagine if you then have to fight someone in a couple days. Your energy is probably not going to be 100%. Again, don’t let this weigh too heavily on your picks, but definitely, do consider it especially if a fighter has issues with their travel and arrives late or last minute.
Altitude of a fight can be a bigger deal than you might think.
Look at the Fighter Styles
Imagine for a moment when you are placing bets on football (American). You don’t assume that every team is going to perform the same way against every other team. You look at teams based on their styles of attack (running, passing, mix) and then look at how that matches up with the defense of the other team. You would never jut assume that how a team performed against a different style team will directly correlate to how they do against another team.
This is the same in mixed martial arts. Different fighters are going to have different styles. Certain fighting styles are going to match up well against other styles, while some will have more problems than you might know. The best advice here is to learn the different fighting styles and know how they match up against each other. This can give you a much more accurate look at how the fight might go.
Here’s a link to the different fighting styles and what makes them weak and strong for mixed martial arts fights.
Fighters are not all created equally, and certain styles give certain fighters different advantages and disadvantages that you must be aware of to make correct predictions and picks.
Prop Bets are Profitable
Most people think that the only bets available on mixed martial arts fights are picking who is going to win or lose the fight. The reality is, though, that there are a host of prop bets available that are great for taking advantage of predictions you have on how the fight might go. One of the more popular options is betting how the fight will end or when it will end. These prop bets require you to be a bit more precise on your predictions, but you are rewarded handsomely with a bigger payout.
Your best strategy with fights picks is not just to pick who you think is going to win, but do so by picking and predicting how you think the fight is going to go. This will first of all help you to make more accurate picks of winners and then help you to identify if there is a prop bet you might want to make.
Don’t neglect the prop bets if you have a strong prediction on how the fight will go.
Do Your Homework
This is the bottom line best strategy tip we can give you. You must do your homework and study the fighters if you want any chance of being a successful mixed martial arts sports bettor. Make sure you look at all pertinent data and really zero in on what you think is important to predict the fight outcome.
Things to Look at:
- Overall record including any current streaks | This will help you to identify fighters that might be undervalued due to increasing skill sets the books haven’t recognized yet.
- Record versus applicable styles | Take a look at how the fighter does against similar styles of who they are about to fight. If they have no experience or poor performances versus that style, this could be a red flag.
- Overall health and well-being | Injuries can be devastating to a fighter, and you need to be up to speed on anything and everything that might not be working properly for a fighter.
- Training Partners | Take a strong look at what caliber of fighters they are training with. If they are training with all no name scrubs, they may struggle to step up to the challenge in the fight. If they are training with world champions, you can expect them to be ready to bang.
- Coaches | It’s no secret in mixed martial arts that coaches are extremely important and can make or break a fighter. Make sure you look at who is coaching who and how that coach has done versus similar fighter styles in the past.
These are just a few examples of the type of information you should be looking at when researching fighters. Your best strategy is to identify the things you think are important and just how important you think they are. Once you do this, you can start to develop a system for picking fighters and predicting the outcomes of the fights.
Seriously, do your homework on the fighters if you want to be successful.
Overall Key Points
Here’s a quick list of all the major points from the tips and strategy section above. Bookmark this page to come back and review these any time before you make your fight picks.
- Just because you think someone is going to win a fight does not mean they are necessarily a good bet. It’s all in the odds.
- Shopping lines is the key to any successful sports betting strategy. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
- Taking advantage of moving lines is an art form that can really add to your bottom line. It’s all about timing. Thankfully the betting public will give you plenty of opportunities to profit.
- Deciding if a media story or event will have an ACTUAL effect on a fighter’s performance is the key to properly utilizing media information.
- Only bet a fight if you think it’s good value, and you have a strong and well thought out prediction on the outcome.
- Don’t get blinded by big payouts for fighters that stand little chance of winning.
- Altitude of a fight can be a bigger deal than you might think.
- Fighters are not all created equally, and certain styles give certain fighters different advantages and disadvantages that you must be aware of to make correct predictions and picks.
- Don’t neglect the prop bets if you have a strong prediction on how the fight will go.
- Seriously, do your homework on the fighters if you want to be successful.