For most of the last century-and-a-half, the only real choice for people who liked to bet on fistic violence was boxing betting.
But in 1993, the Ultimate Fighting Championship introduced the concept of no-holds-barred fighting (eventually renamed mixed martial arts) to the western world and since then the sport has exploded into the public consciousness, as has MMA betting alongside it.
MMA betting is now as popular as wagering on boxing and with a smaller pool of fighters to keep track of and events happening nearly every weekend, MMA betting is much easier to get into, so long as you know how to bet, where to bet, and what fights to bet on.
Betting on MMA is simple and often referred to as a “Three-way Money Line.” Odds are released on each of the three potential outcomes for a fight: Fighter A wins, Fighter B wins, or Draw.
Draws are extremely rare in MMA, so betting is mostly focused on choosing winners, and some online sportsbooks do not even offer the Draw possibility. In those instances, if a Draw occurs, the book will just refund the bet entirely or “push” the bet.
The person favored to win the bout will have a negative number, -150 for example, meaning that bettors must wager $150 to win $100 (plus the return of the $150 wager). On the other side of things, the underdog will have a plus number next to them, +275 for example, meaning that a bettor wins $275 for a $100 bet (plus the return of the $100 wager).
There are also a number of other betting markets available in MMA betting, aside from three-way money line bets.
As discussed above, moneyline bets are the simplest bets in MMA betting: selecting the winner and collecting the associated payout based on the odds.
Bets placed on the duration of the fight. The Over/Under bets will provide a set number of rounds, 1.5 for example, with odds on both sides. If the fight lasts longer than the Over/Under number -- in this example, longer than 7 minutes and 30 seconds - the Over bet cashes. If the bout concludes for any reason before the Over/Under line, then the Under cashes.
A wager on the outcome of the fight, regardless of who wins. Method of Victory props provide odds for Submission, KO/TKO and Decision.
A straightforward wager on what round the fight will be stopped in, regardless of the victor.
Similar to Over/Under bets, only instead of wagering on fight duration, bettors wager on the number of rounds a specific fighter will win.
For example, Fighter A at 3.5 points means that, should the fight go to a decision, the bet cashes if Fighter A’s scorecards total 4 points (or higher) more than his opponent. Any finish by the fighter automatically cashes the Points Handicap bet.
Tying multiple moneyline bets together for greater odds. The payout will be greater than wagering on any one outcome individually but the bet only cashes if all legs of the parlay win.
For example, a parlay of a -200, a -300 and a -500 favorite will payout at +140 but the if even one of those fighters loses, the entire bet is lost.
Unlike stick-and-ball sports, betting on MMA has a limited number of factors to consider. After all, there are only two fighters competing and only a few possible outcomes to each fight. With so few variables, MMA betting is much easier to attack, assuming you know follow a few simple rules.
UFC | The granddaddy of them all. The biggest MMA organization in the world with every fight being eligible for MMA betting.
Bellator | The second biggest MMA organization in the world. Has tons of elite fighters and big names and every main card has mma betting options.
Rizin | A Japanese organization seen as the spiritual successor to Pride FC.
ONE Championship | The MMA leader in Southeast Asia, ONE recently made a number of high profile acquisitions and is looking to become a global player in MMA.
PFL | The Professional Fighter’s League debuted in 2018 with $1M prize tournaments to crown their champions.
KSW | The premier MMA organization in Poland, KSW has exceeded their regional roots on the basis of a strong viewer experience.
Invicta | An all-female organization that is primarily a feeder league to the UFC.
When choosing an online sportsbook, it’s important to do your homework. Not all sportsbooks are equal. Some books don’t provide lines for every fight and some put restrictions on the amount you can wager on fights.
The best way to successfully bet on MMA is to find the best value in fights, be that through straight bets, props or over/unders, so finding a sportsbook with comprehensive odds on every fight available is a must to maximize your bets.
When making a decision about which sportsbook to use, make sure you are wagering with a reputable book, such as the ones you find here at gambling.com, that provides the most comprehensive odds possible.
"David Payne is a veteran boxing writer covering the sport as a columnist and as ringside reporter for almost twenty years, featuring at TheSweetScience.com and Boxing News among many other venues. Between commissions and his regular contributions to LoveSportRadio, David can be be found at BoxingWriter.co.uk."