With each new event they hold – especially the ones with big name fighters in championship fights – the betting popularity of MMA grows. The UFC is the clear and obvious king of the sport, but other organizations offer great opportunities as well. Betting on mixed martial arts can be very intimidating for people who don’t know that much about the sport, but it is relatively easy to become comfortable with how the sport works and how to bet on it with reasonable success. In fact, the barrier to entry for bettors is probably lower in MMA than most major sports. Here are seven basic concepts that people new to the sport – or those that are consistently losing – will want to remember with their betting:
Think value, not winners – Most betting on MMA is done with the moneyline. Whenever you are betting the moneyline you have to be sure you are thinking of things correctly or you will quickly go broke. Your job isn’t to figure out which fighter is going to win the fight. You have to figure out if a fighter’s chances of winning are higher or lower than the odds represent. For a simple example, if you think that a fighter has a 50 percent chance of winning then you wouldn’t want to bet them at -150 because over the long term you would lose money even if the fighter did win 50 percent of the time. If the odds for that fighter were +150, though, then you’d have a very attractive betting opportunity. The prices in MMA frequently get to be quite large, so you really have to make sure that you are making a bet that makes sense, and that the potential reward exceeds the risk.
Understand fighter’s styles – The large majority of how a fight turns out comes down to the styles of the fighters. In football a decent running team will struggle to run against an excellent run defense, but will be able to run all day – and probably win as a result – against a lousy run defense. MMA works the same basic way – no matter how good a guy is overall his chances of success depend upon how the opponent will be able to handle him, and how he will be able to handle the opponent. Before you make bets you need to get a sense of the fighter’s styles and how they will or won’t work together. That might sound daunting, but luckily that information is out there all over the place for you to consume.
Think about why the fight has been set – The UFC in particular often sets fights with a barely contained agenda behind them. If, for example, a young contender on the rise is fighting a veteran with a long, varied record then you can often imagine that the youngster is being put in a position to win. The UFC loves stars, and nice wins over recognizable names will help build that.
Don’t pay a lot attention to past meetings – In a lot of sports we learn a lot about what could happen based on what has happened in past meetings. That can often be more confusing than useful in MMA. Because strategy is such a big part of the sport, and because fighters don’t have to rely on a team and can set their own plan and rely on themselves to execute it, both fighters will often bring a very different approach to a fight based on what worked and what didn’t the last time they met. MMA is like a chess match – one fighter does something in response to the other, and so on. No two fights play out the same way, so fighters have to call on different skills and abilities each time.
Be skeptical of overwhelming public opinion – The public loves hype, so they will often be overwhelmingly be on the side of one of the fighters in a fight – usually the one that has been a bigger star longer. That means that you will see that fighter installed as a very heavy favorite. As a general rule in MMA, the more a fighter is favored, the less I trust the perception of the public.
Don’t fear an underdog – There are several UFC cards each year in which you could make a profit on the main card just by blindly betting all of the underdogs. This, more than any other sport, is a great place for people who like to hunt for value in underdogs to enjoy a big payoff.
Look at the props – In most sports bettors are told that the prop bets are the enemy – a sucker’s bet designed to suck the cash out of the wallets of the clueless public. In some cases in MMA, though, that’s not the case. In title fights, for example, they will often let you bet not just on who will win, but in which round they will win. If one fighter is a huge puncher who goes for the knockout then they are likely to win in one of the first two rounds or not at all – they will be too tired later on to land their punch effectively. You may be able to get a better price on the fighter by betting them to win in one or both of those rounds than you would by betting them to win the fight overall.