How to Bet on UFC Fights
Betting on UFC fights is one of the best ways to get more involved in the sport. Not only do you have a chance to win some money, but the bets you make will keep your attention glued to specific aspects of a fight.
You can bet on who wins, how many rounds the fight goes, and prop bets like the method of victory, to name a few. Betting on these elements will bring you closer to the action as you wait to find out if your wagers pay off.
Maybe you’ve never placed a bet on a UFC fight and you’re wondering how to wager on the world’s premier combat sports organization.
In that case, here’s everything you need to know about how to bet on UFC fights!
Let’s start by examining the simplest wager of all, the moneyline bet. If you want a straight-up bet on who wins the fight with no strings attached, then this is the bet for you.
Before putting any more on the line, start by learning how to understand UFC betting odds. Here’s a great example from PointsBet for the fight between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya:
Israel Adesanya is a -280 favorite ($280 bet to win $100), while Jan Blachowicz is the underdog at +215 odds ($100 bet to win $215). These betting lines indicate Adesanya is heavily favored to win this fight, which makes sense considering he’s entering the contest with an undefeated record of 20-0.
Say you expect Adesanya to extend his unbeaten streak and you make a moneyline bet of $280 on -280 odds. In this case, you win $100 for a payout of $380 if “The Last Stylebender” comes out on top.
As for the underdog Blachowicz, a $280 bet would earn you $784 for a total payout of $1,064. While the betting lines might say he’s a heavy underdog, Jan Blachowicz is the light heavyweight champion for a reason, so the extra risk might be worth it here.
Deciding if a bet is worth the risk is known as handicapping. Researching a fight before the combatants are locked in the octagon can help you accurately handicap a moneyline bet, and in turn, help you pad your bankroll.
We’ll discuss the importance of research later on in this guide.
We have a full guide to reading sports betting odds if you’re interested in learning more about calculating betting lines. For more information on moneyline wagers, check out our “Moneyline Explained” article.
The over/under wager (also known as totals) has nothing to do with who wins. In other sports, bookmakers will set a total number of points, and you can make a bet if the two teams’ combined scores will go over or under that set number.
In the UFC, the judges score points for the fighters in each round, but this scoring method doesn’t really lend itself to traditional totals betting. Instead, sportsbooks determine an expected final round of the fight, and you can bet if the bout ends after (over) or before (under) that specified round.
In three-round fights, the over/under is usually set at 1.5 rounds. Championship bouts and main events go for five rounds, so the total hovers around 2.5 rounds.
Have a look at this example from the FanDuel sportsbook for the fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns at UFC 258:
Kamaru Usman is defending his title against Gilbert Burns in a five-round main event, so the over/under is set at 2.5 rounds. The under is favored at +215 odds, probably because these fighters have over 20 finishes on their records combined.
If you bet $100 on this fight going under 2.5 rounds, and someone gets a finish before the 2:30 mark of the third round, then you walk away with $315.
Prop bets cover anything else you can imagine in a UFC fight. If you want to make a bet on the exact round a fight will end, or who earns a performance of the night bonus, UFC prop betting is for you!
While UFC prop bets can cover basically anything, these are the ones you’ll see offered by most sportsbooks:
- Method of victory – a prop bet on how the fight ends (KO/TKO, submission, or judges’ decision)
- Finish inside the distance – a prop bet on if the fight goes the distance and a judges’ decision is required
- Round betting – a wager on the exact round a fight ends within
- Time prop – similar to round props, but a specific time as opposed to a specific round
We have comprehensive guides to UFC prop bets and round betting, so make sure you check those out if you want to know more!
If you’re particularly confident in more than one selection on the fight card, consider making a parlay bet. These wagers tie multiple outcomes together in a single wager, making the odds longer and increasing your potential payout.
You have to correctly pick each leg of the parlay to win the bet (unless you have something called parlay insurance), so the possibility of a higher payout comes with substantial risk compared to a single wager. As they say, you’ve got to risk it for the biscuit.
This is what a UFC parlay bet would look like at DraftKings:
As you can see, we set up a parlay bet with three different moneyline wagers. If Kelvin Gastelum, Maycee Barber, and Kamaru Usman all win their fights, our $100 bet on +304 odds pays out a total of $404.26. If even one of these fighters lose, the $100 goes down the drain, so you want to be confident in your wager before you make a parlay bet.
Let’s quickly recap the pros and cons of making a parlay on UFC fights:
|UFC Parlay Betting Pros||UFC Parlay Betting Cons|
|Higher potential payout||More risk involved|
|Can get creative with your bets||One wrong bet ruins the wager|
|Parlay insurance can cover some losses||Insurance usually only covers $25|
Keep all that information in mind if you decide to make a parlay bet on a UFC fight. The thrill of winning a parlay is unmatched in the world of sports betting, but the experience is far from risk free!
When a UFC event is announced, the sportsbooks are close behind with early betting lines known as opening odds. As the public starts betting on a fighter, the sportsbooks adjust these lines to favor whoever is getting more of the betting action.
As the betting lines change, the overall value of the bets changes as well.
For instance, let’s say an announcement is made for a bout featuring a popular fighter like Conor McGregor. He might start as a -120 favorite, but as more people start to bet on McGregor, the odds could move to -175.
If the odds remain at -175 as the sportsbooks stop accepting bets, then we can refer to -175 as the closing odds. There’s a pretty significant difference in value between opening odds of -120 and -175 closing odds.
If you caught the opening odds and made a $100 bet, you could win $83. But if you were late and bet $100 on -175 closing odds for McGregor, you only stand to win $57.
Especially when betting on fan favorites, you want to get in on the bets early and beat the closing odds.
Now that you have a thorough understanding of how to read UFC odds and place all types of wagers, you might be wondering how often a betting favorite wins. Maybe you’re questioning if a heavy underdog is ever worth the money.
There’s no real easy answer to this question. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to do the research and handicap a fighter’s chances of winning. Anything can happen in mixed martial arts, so even the biggest dogs can come out on top, but they’re going into a fight with nothing but a puncher’s chance.
You can’t put huge money down on someone with nothing but a puncher’s chance if you want to be successful in sports betting. Do the research, evaluate the risk, and look for any trends that might give you the edge over the sportsbooks.
The resources here at Sports Betting Dime can help. Follow us on Twitter to get all our latest UFC news coverage.
We’ve also done some heavy lifting for you with our best UFC betting trends article. Give it a read for some unique patterns that might inform your wagering strategy.
We mentioned the importance of research earlier in this guide, and now it’s time to dive into the investigative work for betting on a UFC fight night. Seasoned bettors known as “sharps” aren’t lucky –they rely on detailed research and crunch numbers to come out on top of their wagers.
Here are some key factors to consider:
- Win-loss records
- Fighter styles
- Odds from previous fights
- What a fighter says in pre-fight interviews
- What the news and media is saying leading up to a fight
We did some research for the bout between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya. This champ vs. champ matchup is headlining the UFC 259 fight card in Las Vegas on March 6, 2021. Let’s go through some quick notes and explore how they can inform your betting options.
It might seem like Adesanya should win this fight easily based on the win-loss records alone. When we dig a little deeper, we’ll see that Blachowicz has a better shot at winning than his record might suggest.
There are a few stats we’d like to focus on for both fighters. Jan Blachowicz lands 3.45 significant strikes per minute, and he absorbs 2.77 significant strikes per minute.
Blachowicz has a knockdown ratio of 0.45, meaning he has 0.45 knockdowns for every 15 minutes he fights. He has seven wins by KO/TKO, ten wins by decision, and nine wins by submission, so all-in-all Blachowicz is a well-rounded fighter who can get the job done in multiple ways.
However, there’s no denying his advanced striking stats don’t match up with Israel Adesanya.
“The Last Stylebender” has higher significant strikes per minute (3.96) and fewer significant strikes absorbed (2.40). His knockdown ratio of 1.18 is more than double what Blachowicz has managed, and 14 of Adesanya’s wins have come by KO/TKO.
This is where fighter style comes into play with MMA betting.
Based on these statistics, Adesanya will likely win if the fight stays on the feet. If these two fighters decide to trade shots, then Blachowicz could be in real danger of being finished as early as the first round.
Blachowicz’s best chance to win will come on the ground as opposed to standing up and striking. The Polish champion averages 1.16 takedowns per minute, but Adesanya has an 87% takedown defense, so it’s not going to be an easy task.
In this case, a prop bet on an Adesanya KO or a Blachowicz submission might bring great value.
These are the kinds of things you want to consider when you’re researching a fight. The more stats and insight you can find, the better chance you have of finding an edge over the betting market.
You might hear some UFC fights referred to as a pick’em. This is a bout where both fighters are equally matched and the betting lines are the same for each contestant.
You’ll usually see UFC pick’ems listed at -110 for either side at online sportsbooks. You might want to go ahead and put some money down if you’re confident in one of the combatants involved in a pick’em.
Here are some other factors to take into consideration before you bet on a UFC event:
- Weight class – how has a particular fighter performed in their division? Have they changed weight classes?
- Travel – does one fighter have to travel further than their opponent? Are there any time zone changes they need to adjust to?
- Weaknesses in a fighter’s game – maybe one fighter doesn’t do well on the ground.
- Pre-fight nerves – every fighter gets them, but some more than others.
- Cardio and conditioning – a fighter’s gas tank can make or break their chances of winning.
- Fight camp – did the fighter get a full training camp? Or did they take the fight on short notice?
- Training partners – who do the fighters train with? Are they learning from someone who already beat their upcoming opponent?
As you know, anything can happen in a UFC fight, so you want to make sure you have all your bases covered when you’re strategizing your wagers.
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Enjoy the fights!