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How to Bet on the UFC: A Guide to Betting Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed martial arts continues to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and its popularity is at an all-time high, especially with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The combat sport pits two fighters in an octagon-shaped ring to battle it out with strikes, grappling and submission maneuvers to determine a winner and a point structure similar to boxing.

This means bettors study statistics, fight styles, past results and anything they can to get an edge on betting lines from various sportsbooks that offer UFC. This sport can be extremely profitable for recreational bettors and has arguably the most entertainment value for its demographic because of the brutal nature of combat.

We at Odds Shark know this can be a lot of information to take in at once so we’ll break down all the details on what types of UFC bets you can make, how to read the odds and how to sign up with a sportsbook that offers these markets.

Understanding UFC Betting Lines

The various bets available to wager on for each matchup in the UFC may not be as vast as sports like the NFL or NBA but there are still plenty of options that offer betting value.

The three most common bets someone can make on a UFC matchup are “To Win Fight,” “Fight Outcome” and “Round Betting.” Let’s break down each of these betting types and how to understand the associated odds:

To Win Fight

A “To Win Fight” bet in the UFC is no different than when you make a moneyline bet in other North American sports and it’s pretty self-explanatory – you’re picking which fighter will win the fight. It’s often called a straight-up bet at the sportsbook because UFC moneyline betting involves you choosing one fighter to win over the other.

Since there are typically skill/talent discrepancies and varying styles between the two gladiators, the odds typically come at a premium for the “favorite” because there’s less risk of them losing the fight to the “underdog.”

For example, if lightweight fighter Conor McGregor was to fight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, odds to win the fight would look something like this:

McGregor -310

Cerrone +240

A winning bet of $100 on McGregor would give you $132.26 – your original $100 comes back along with your winnings of $32.26. With McGregor being such a big favorite, bettors don’t make a lot of profit on $100 wagers so you may need to up your initial wager or be content with minimal reward.

On the other hand, if you laid down that same amount of money on Cerrone and he won, you’d get $340 – your $100 is returned along with your winnings of $240.

The nature of a fight can make UFC moneyline betting very volatile because even the biggest favorites eventually lose. Betting on underdogs, in this case Cerrone, is considered a riskier bet but you get a bigger reward. Conversely, betting on McGregor is less risky, which means it comes with less money in your pocket.

To find out how much you’d win based on what you bet, check out our Odds Calculator.

Fight Outcome

The “Fight Outcome” with UFC betting is a prop bet when you pick the exact method of victory by the fighter. The most common options for this betting prop are “knockout,” “submission” and “decision,” with the odds varying depending on variables like individual fight style, recent fight history, weight class and matchup specifics like arm length or reach.

To pick one of these exactly, the odds typically pay plus money (+) as, in any fight, the method of victory can be unpredictable. Let’s use a hypothetical middleweight fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero and here’s how this betting prop would look at your sportsbook:

Israel Adesanya vs Yoel Romero
Method of VictoryAdesanya OddsRomero Odds
Knockout+150+180
Submission+250+300
Decision+110+250

A winning bet of $100 on Adesanya to knock out Romero would give you $250 – your original $100 comes back along with your winnings of $150. But if you think Romero will submit Adesanya and you bet that same $100 on this option and it wins, you would get $400 – this includes the $100 initial wager and $300 in winnings.

As a bettor, you would research many factors before placing a wager on this betting prop and should have a good idea of how this fight will play out by trying to answer these questions before wagering:

  • Has Adesanya or Romero ever been knocked out before?
  • How many knockouts/submissions do they each have on their record?
  • Do these fighters use strikes to win fights or grapple their opponents to submission?
  • Does each fighter have enough endurance to last a three-round or five-round fight?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg for research that UFC bettors do before wagering on a “Fight Outcome” prop. Even if you feel comfortable with an answer for each one of these questions, there are still many more unanswerable ones. Needless to say, this market is typically reserved for the bettors who are plugged in to UFC year-round and not for beginners attempting to make their first UFC bet.

Now, let’s do this exact exercise again but for a heavyweight matchup between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier:

Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier
Method of VictoryMiocic OddsCormier Odds
Knockout-150+110
Submission+150+250
Decision+300+400

If you compare this fight’s odds to the ones above, you can see an immediate difference in the knockout portion. That’s because these two fighters are heavyweights and typical for this weight class are hard hitters who usually don’t make it to the end of a three-round or five-round fight. You will also see the odds are larger for it to go the distance than Adesanya-Romero due to the lack of endurance for heavyweight fighters.

A winning bet of $100 on Miocic to knock out Cormier would give you $166.67 – your original $100 comes back along with your winnings of $66.67. But if you think Cormier will win in a decision and you bet that same $100 on this option and it wins, you would get $500 – this includes the $100 initial wager and $400 in winnings.

Try to use the same questions from the above list to help you in your research while also taking into consideration the size and weight of a fighter before wagering on the projected “Fight Outcome.”

Round Betting

“Round Betting” for UFC betting is when you pick the specific round a fight will end in or how long the fight will last. There are many variations within these markets but the two most popular are “Exact Round” and “Total Rounds.”

When making “Exact Round” bets, the prop at your sportsbook would look like this:

Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone
Exact RoundMcGregor OddsCerrone Odds
1-400+200
2+120+300
3+200+450

As a bettor, you would need to research many factors like fighting style and past results of each fighter before placing a wager on this betting prop. Since Conor McGregor is known for his knockout power, his odds reflect that he would most likely win the fight in the first round via knockout. If you think McGregor will win in Round 2 instead, the odds increase to +120 due to the volatility of a fight lasting longer than anticipated.

As for “Total Rounds,” this is similar to making a Totals bet for NFL, NBA and MLB but the length of the fight is the metric and not how many points are scored by the participants. As the bettor, you would need to decide if the fight would go OVER or UNDER the line listed.

When making a “Total Rounds” prop bet on a UFC fight, the odds would look something like this:

Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone
Total Rounds OVER UNDER
1.5+500-500
2.5+300-200

Based on the odds above, the sportsbooks do not think this fight will last long, offering plus odds (+) for anything past one round. These prop odds can vary drastically depending on the fighters involved and typically increase as the fight goes on when having two combatants known for ending fights quickly.

Betting On UFC: How To Sign Up With A Sportsbook

If you haven’t signed up with an online sportsbook to make UFC bets but want to start, this is the guide for you. Odds Shark has a step-by-step process below that can walk you through the procedure and assist you:

Step 1: Pick a Betting Site

This may be the most important step and it’s crucial that you do your research on the sportsbooks that interest you. We at Odds Shark have done some of the legwork to help you choose a site that works best for you and have compiled an extensive list of the top UFC betting sites with our sportsbook review page.

Here you will be able to check out various betting partners and the different markets and sign-up bonuses they provide. Some sportsbooks offer a wide range of sports and entertainment to wager on while others have fewer betting markets but incredible deposit bonuses to give you more betting opportunities. Check out each of the options and choose the best one for you!

Step 2: Signing Up For Your Sportsbook

The process of signing up for a sportsbook is very easy, quick and similar to registering to any other site on the internet. The required fields for a sportsbook to create your new account would be your full name, date of birth, email, phone number and mailing address. Some sites may also require a photocopy of your driver’s license or a recent copy of a utility bill in order to verify you’re a real person.

At this point, you are not committed to making a deposit to the sportsbook as you are building your profile which will allow you to look at the different options before putting money in an account and placing a bet. However, some sites do eliminate their bonus options if you don’t deposit within 24-48 hours of registration.

Step 3: Making a Deposit With Your Sportsbook

Once you feel comfortable with a sportsbook of your choosing, it’s time to deposit funds into your betting account. Online betting sites offer a variety of conventional payment options like credit cards, bank transfers or checks while also now offering online currency deposits like Bitcoin. Some sites may vary in how long it will take before funds are received or verified so keep that in mind if the event you plan to wager on is the same day.

No one starts betting on UFC to lose money but the reality is that you have to accept this could be the outcome and the money you plan to deposit should not impact your day-to-day income. Recreational betting is supposed to be fun so it’s important to consider what your average bet size will be and what you’d be comfortable losing, whether it’s $50 or $100.

Step 4: Placing a Bet at Your Sportsbook

The hard part is over. You have registered your information and deposited money with your sportsbook and now you can start placing UFC bets. Look through the sportsbook for the market you would like to have action on with the corresponding odds, enter the amount of money you wish to wager and voila, you have made a sports bet.

Additional UFC Betting Tips

If you’re not an expert of UFC information and odds and are trying to cram as much research as possible in before placing your bet, Odds Shark will be vital to assist you in your research. We have betting experts for every sport and provide betting analysis for every UFC event. Here are some of the quick-hitter tips when betting on the UFC:

Tip #1 – Avoid Betting The Draw

Although the odds may draw you in, avoid betting on the draw for UFC fights. Draws are much more common in boxing than they are in the UFC, where there are an odd number of rounds – three, or five if it is a championship fight/main event – while boxing has an even number of rounds. You’d be better served wagering on a decision for one of the fighters.

Tip #2 – Fighters Evolve

Like any combatants, UFC fighters are always improving their skills and evolving with the times. It’s natural in mixed martial arts to think that if “Fighter A” has beaten “Fighter B” but “Fighter C” has lost to “Fighter B” that “Fighter A” will also win when facing “Fighter C.”

This is called “MMA Math” and can be tricky when trying to determine fight outcomes because a lot of variables are in play for UFC betting. Use your logic based on past results and fighting styles but don’t assume because of a previous outcome that the hypothetical fight between “Fighter A” and “Fighter C” will just play out the same way.

Tip #3 – Do your research

This seems like a no-brainer but cannot be stressed enough: DO YOUR RESEARCH. This can be as simple as looking at the fighters’ previous opponents, methods of victory, fighting style and consensus picks

But sometimes you can find some interesting nuggets when watching their social media or the UFC-embedded YouTube series ahead of the event. There you can learn about a fighter’s training sessions, how they are handling a weight cut, or their overall mindset for their upcoming task.