For MMA bettors there is a big difference between betting on a title fight and betting on any other fight on the card. Bettors who are aware of those differences, what they mean, and how to exploit them have the best chance at long term profit betting on them. Here are six things that make betting on the title fights different:
Public attention – The casual betting public will pay more attention to a title fight than any other fight. They are the highest profile, often most hyped fights, so they are the ones that capture the attention of casual fans and prompt them to bet on the fight. This has a couple of big impacts for more serious bettors. First, the betting volume is going to be much higher on these fights than on a normal fight. That means that lines will move quickly, oddsmakers will work harder in setting them in the first place, and you need to be more aware of what the public is thinking and the impact it has. Second, the public is likely going to have a strong bias towards the favorite – or at least towards the more popular, more publicized fighter. Because of this the action is likely to be more one-sided on that fighter here than it would be in a typical fight. This can have the effect of making it harder to find value on the favorite, but easier to do so on the underdog. Of course this doesn’t mean you should blindly bet the underdog, but it does give you a bit of room to work with.
Media attention – The media attention and the casual public attention is sort of a chicken and egg thing in these circumstances. The media will cover these fights more intensely in large part because the public is more likely to care about them. The more the media covers the event the more likely all the significant story angles of the fight are going to get uncovered. The media tends to focus on the most compelling stories, especially media outlets that don’t cover fights closely. That means that certain stories that sound good can get more coverage than they likely deserve, and will likely have more of an impact in the betting process of the public than they should. By paying attention to what the media is covering, you can get a good sense of what will define the fight in the eyes of the public. If you disagree with this then you could have an opportunity for real value.
Pressure on champion – Time and again we see guys win a title and then fail to defend it in their first try. Everything changes once a guy is wearing the belt. He’s the man with the target on his back, and everyone wants to knock him off. His time is far more in demand than it was when he was climbing the ladder. Now his picture is on posters, and he has to deal with the weight of being a champion. Some guys do not handle that well, and it knocks them right off of their games.
Pressure on underdog – The champion isn’t the only one who feels the pressure of the situation in a title fight. Many times a challenger has worked a long time to climb the ladder and get his title shot. In a lot of cases it could be the only one he ever gets unless he wins or at least puts on a very good show. A title fight is the most important fight of his career. A guy who hasn’t handled pressure well in the past could come out tight and tentative, and that can be fatal in MMA.
Crowd impact – The crowd can make a big impact on a fight, and they will almost always be at their loudest and most intense during the main event fight. They are also likely to be more on the side of one fighter – often the favorite, but perhaps the one with local ties as well. Because the crowd is at its most intense the impact they could have will be at the most significant as well.
Typically the last fight on card – Unless there is more than one title fight on the crd the belt will typically be on the line at the end of the night. From a betting perspective that can make a difference. Bettors who have found themselves in the hole could be chasing their losses in this fight. People who are ahead on the night could look to spend the profits in search of a really good night. Meaning that it isn’t uncommon to see late, aggressive action in these fights that can swing the lines significantly in the minutes leading up to the fight. It’s hard to anticipate if that will happen or the impact it will have, but it is definitely something to be aware of. Sometimes leaving your bet until the last minute can lead to a much nicer price on your fighter.