MMA is one of the most exciting and exhilarating sporting events to watch, but for some, the spectacle of it just isn’t enough. Whether you are looking for the added rush of having something at stake during the fights, or, if you are looking to have fun with a little extra money, betting on the fights can be a worthwhile and profitable experience.

But while betting on MMA can make the viewing experience more enjoyable, if you do not know what you are doing, it could become very costly. Luckily, we’re here to help you navigate the traditional sportsbook betting waters.

Where to Bet

First off, stay away from your neighborhood bookie. Aside from being sketchy to begin with, MMA isn’t large enough to attract a lot of local action. Without action, a bookie isn’t able to provide the same odds you would get by utilizing a casino or online sportsbook.

For fans outside of the US, there are plenty of options because you can utilize online sportsbooks. But be cautious and do your research because not all sports betting sites are created equal. The big area you have to focus on is the sites policy for handling payouts. There are sites out there the will allow you to make small deposits and small plays, but they will only cash you out once you get over a certain amount of money in your account.

If you are a fan living here in the US, then your options are limited to the sportsbooks located in the state of Nevada.

Understanding Fight Odds

Unlike other sports’ betting that utilize a point spread, MMA fights utilize a money line. Let’s use the upcoming UFC 194 main event as an example of what a money line looks like.

Conor McGregor (-175)
Jose Aldo (+155)

In this fight, McGregor is the favorite and at -175. This means you would have to lay $175 to win $100 if McGregor were to win.
Conversely, at +155, you would only need to lay $100 down on Aldo to potentially win $155.

If the fight were to end in a draw, you would get your money back.

How to Bet

The simplest way to get started is play straight up; simply pick the winners. The risk is lower and as such the payouts are limited.

Once you’ve mastered picking winners, it’s time to move on to something a little more advanced; the parlay. A parlay is simply a bet where rather than picking the outcome of a single fight you pick the outcomes of multiple fights. The difficulty level goes up greatly here because in order to win, all your picks have to be right but at the same time the payouts get significantly better.

After you learn the basics of picking winners, the next progression is moving into the prop betting realm. In prop betting, you are not simply picking a winner but rather a specific outcome. For example, right now at +375, you can lay a bet on McGregor to beat Aldo by decision. But the only way to win is if the fight actually ends with McGregor winning a decision.

Prop bets can be a great to find value on significant favorites and also enhance potential earnings from straight up plays. While the rewards can be significant, the risk on prop bets is often too great so be careful.

Tips

Start Small: Betting on fights is a lot tougher than many people realize. While you are learning the ins and outs of the process, don’t overextend yourself; keep your bets small. The payouts won’t be huge to start with, but neither will the losses. Once you get more comfortable with how to bet and what to look for, you can start to take more chances.

Research: One of the biggest mistakes new gamblers make is they bet with their heart and not their head. While betting on fights can improve the fan experience, gamblers can’t let their fandom cloud their judgment; it can and will get costly in the end. Take the time to research your bets and understand why you are picking Fighter A over Fighter B.

Have Fun: At the end of the day, unless you are looking to become a full time gambler, betting on fights should be fun and it should enhance your viewing experience.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.