MMA Betting Strategies and Tips to Help You Make Money Betting on the UFC
There is nothing in sports as exciting as the fast-paced, hard-hitting action of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). From its early savage days of no weight classes and limited rules to the polished product pushed today, the sport has come a long way.
But one thing has remained constant. UFC betting online has always been and will always be a great way for sharp sports fans to make some serious cash. Betting on the UFC is not only fun, but it also provides a way for you to turn your expert picks into cash, cash, and more cash.
In this guide we break down exactly how to bet on UFC fights for money and give you strategies and tips to lead you in the right direction. We also provide you with the best sports betting sites to place your UFC wagers at.
Contents of Our 2022 UFC Betting Strategy Guide
Looking for something specific? Use these links to jump ahead and start learning how to bet on UFC fights.
- Expert UFC Betting Picks
- Types of UFC Bets Available (with pro tips)
- Best UFC Betting Sites
- Handicapping MMA Fighting Styles
- UFC Betting Tips for Beginners
- Expert UFC/MMA Betting Strategies
- Online UFC Betting FAQs
Expert UFC Betting Picks and Fight Predictions
The absolute easiest way to get a leg up on the UFC betting community (your competition) is to utilize experts. If you don’t have the time to do the research or you just want to know how the best in the business are betting, you’ve come to the right place.
Below, we’ve included a link to our expert UFC and MMA betting picks. Even if you already know who you’ve got on the next fight card, it always helps to check your work and see if you missed something.
Hill vs Santos Odds and Prediction
Amanda Nunes vs Peña 2 Odds and Pick
Ortega vs Rodriguez Odds and Predictions
Rafael dos Anjos vs Fiziev UFC Odds and Predictions
Adesanya vs Cannonier Odds and Prediction
Tsarukyan vs Gamrot Odds and UFC Prediction
Bellator 282 Main Event Odds and Betting Pick
Kattar vs Emmett UFC Odds and Pick
Teixeira vs Prochazka Odds and Prediction
Titan FC 77: Pena vs Wurlitzer Odds and Prediction
Volkov vs Rozenstruik Odds and MMA Pick
Holm vs Vieira UFC Main Event Pick
Blachowicz vs Rakic UFC Odds and Betting Pick
MVP vs Storley Odds and Betting Pick
UFC 274 Main Event: Oliveira vs Gaethje Betting Pick
- Most judges are beginning to score damage higher than control. Take this into account.
- Many times the fighters with a lot of first round knockouts will be overpriced
- Don’t just focus on takedown vs takedown defense. Most fighters are well versed in and coached to getting up off the bottom unless their name is Kevin Holland
- Use your betting calculator to see the implied probability of the betting odds as well as the betting payout. You need to know the difference between (-230) and (+190)—as an example.
- Listen to interviews and pay attention to the fighter’s mindset and how hungry they are.
- Favor the round winners and those that play to the judges. As fans, we hate it but as UFC bettors, our priorities change.
- If you’re stumped on handicapping a fight, break it down into smaller parts—round by round. It’s easier to see the small picture and build to the bigger.
Interested in more MMA betting tips from Mike Pruitt? Bet sure to check out his author page for the latest on how to bet on UFC fights.
Types of UFC Bets Available
First stop on anyone’s online UFC betting journey? Bet options. Before you can figure out how to master bets and beat the book, you have to know what your options are.
Below, we take a look at the six most popular UFC bet types. Additionally, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each, how available they are, and some specific expert betting tips for each type of bet.
A UFC moneyline is a wager on which fighter is going to win the bout. It doesn’t matter how they win or when they win. As long as they win the fight, you win your bet! Keep in mind, though, that the amount you get paid out changes based on the likelihood of that person winning and how the public is betting.
If a fighter is a big favorite to win and/or the public is betting heavily on them, expect a smaller potential payout.
If a fighter is a big underdog and/or the public isn’t betting heavily on them, expect a larger potential payout.
- Pro: Easiest UFC bet to understand and make
- Con: Requires you to understand value to be a long-term winner
- Availability: Most popular UFC bet type; available everywhere
The round over/under bet is a UFC wager that allows you to bet on how long you think the fight is going to go. Generally, on 3 round bouts, a line is set at 1½ rounds or 2½ rounds. For the bet, you can pick if you think the fight will go under that line (shorter), or over that line (longer).
If an upcoming fight has a line for over/under 2½ rounds, an under bet means you think the fight ends before the halfway point of the third round. An over bet means the fight goes to at least the halfway point of the third round or to a decision.
It doesn’t matter who wins the fight or by what method. Additionally, these bets do offer different payouts based on likelihood and betting popularity, just like the UFC moneyline bets.
- Pro: Gives you a chance to bet on the flow of the fight with no need to pick a winner
- Con: Much like moneyline MMA bets, you need to understand value to win long term
- Availability: Very popular; available at most UFC betting sites
Go the Distance
The ‘go the distance’ bet is a wager on whether or not a UFC fight will go to the end of the final round or get stopped early. For bettors who want to bet an over that is set in the final round, this wager type gives you the second half of the final round as well.
- Pro: More precise bet option for those with fight length predictions
- Con: Some sportsbooks may have unique rules if the fight stops for an obscure reason like a disqualification
- Availability: Less popular; not available at all UFC betting sites
Method of Victory
Got a prediction on how you think the fight is going to end? If you do, you can choose a method of victory wager. Some sportsbooks allow you to wager on only the method of victory without having to choose a winner. Other UFC sportsbooks require you to choose the method of victory and the winner of the fight. The latter is more popular, but thankfully, also pays way better.
- Pro: Unique way to capitalize on a precise prediction
- Con: Tougher to win
- Availability: Less popular; only available at the best MMA betting sites
Exact Round Finish
The great part about betting on the UFC is that you have opportunities to get paid big when you have precise predictions. One of the highest paying UFC bets out there is the exact round finish bet. With this bet, all you have to do is decide which round the fight is going to end in. If you’re right, you win big. Many UFC sportsbooks do also require you to pick the winner. When this is the case, the payouts go up!
- Pro: Big payouts for a precise prediction
- Con: You have to be exactly right to win
- Availability: Somewhat popular; available at the top UFC betting sites and mid-tier options
A parlay is a wager where you group together a bunch of individual bets into one single bet. In order to win the parlay bet, you have to win each individual bet. Get one individual bet wrong and you lose the entire bet. What’s neat is that a lot of the best UFC betting sites let you parlay UFC bets with wagers from other sports if you want to.
- Pro: Opportunity to win big on a small wager
- Con: Tough to win, especially on parlays with more legs
- Availability: Very popular; available on all UFC betting apps
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Best UFC Betting Sites
Below you’ll find the list of the best online sportsbooks offering action on the UFC. What makes these sites the best? They offer the most bet types, the fastest payouts, and the easiest to use interfaces.
Most importantly, though, these are sites you can trust. What’s the point of betting if you can’t be sure that you’re going to get paid when you win? The answer is there is no point which is why we made sure to vet these sites as extensively as humanly possible to ensure your safety.
Knowing which fighters to bet on or what bets to make is only half the battle.
In years past, your only option was to go to the closest sportsbook or casino which can sometimes be hundreds of miles away.
Even if you have a sportsbook close by, you’re stuck with the betting lines that they provide and the options of bets they choose to offer. This means no line shopping unless you are ready to test the durability of your car and its gas tank and sometimes the inability to leverage all of your knowledge.
Thanks to Al Gore (or whoever really created the internet) this has all changed. Online sportsbooks are prevalent and give you incredible access to more bet types, more perks, no lines, insane comfort and convenience, and most importantly the ability to shop betting lines to get the most bang for your buck.
You can check out our page below if you need more details on the top real money UFC sportsbooks we’ve added to our list.
Handicapping MMA Fight Styles
Styles make fights. On top of that, styles can create betting opportunities or pitfalls you should be aware of. We’re not saying you need to run out and sign up for karate classes at the YMCA. What we are saying, though, is that if you’re serious about UFC betting (and winning), you need to understand the implications of each of the most popular fighting styles.
Why is this important? Because most of the top UFC fighters start out in another discipline and learn the other martial arts as they go. This means they’re going to have a particular skill set they heavily lean on, which can greatly affect their success and win rate.
Strengths in MMA
- Can carry more knockout power than is traditionally seen in their weight class
- Experts in cutting weight
- Able to control distance well, especially with a good jab
- Experience closing distance with fighters who have a longer reach
- Straight punches always get there faster than looping ones
Weaknesses in MMA
- Hard to utilize boxing skills if you’re on your back on the ground
- The same is true with the clinch game. If the fighter hasn’t worked to adapt, it could spell trouble.
- Boxers tend to put a lot of weight on their front legs for punch power. If they’re fighting someone with good leg kicks, it could require adjustments.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)
Strengths in MMA
- Extensive experience grappling and on the ground
- Unlike wrestlers, they’re comfortable on their back as well
- Can submit opponents from almost any position
- If paired with a great striking game, it can make it hard for an opponent to develop an effective game plan
Weaknesses in MMA
- Some BJJ practitioners are extremely new to striking
- BJJ changes when you’re allowed to strike your opponent to open up opportunities
- Some BJJ positions open you up to more strikes
Strengths in MMA
- Many judo practitioners also have experience with wrestling and BJJ
- Great for throwing larger opponents (or equal sized) onto the ground
- Very effective out of the clinch from unique positions other fighters might not be used to
- Excellent overall control of their body weight in all positions
Weaknesses in MMA
- Judo is practiced in a Gi, which may cause issues when translating to MMA
Strengths in MMA
- Fast and unorthodox striking
- Experts in closing distance, striking, and getting out of the way (“stick and move” concept)
Weaknesses in MMA
- Karate competitions focus on point sparring, which means that generating power on strikes may take added adjustments
Strengths in MMA
- The most effective use of all striking weapons (all 8 limbs)
- Vicious elbows and knees that can cut opponents open easily
Weaknesses in MMA
- Some Muay Thai practitioners are new to the ground game
- Some Muay Thai fighters have a tendency to accept taking punishment
Strengths in MMA
- Experts in cutting weight
- Not only helps to take opponents down but also helps prevent getting taken down
- Ability to control opponents very helpful if the fight goes to a decision (wrestlers tend to win the boring fights)
Weaknesses in MMA
- Might struggle on their back against BJJ opponents
- May be very new to striking
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UFC Betting Tips for Beginners
New to betting on UFC fights? Been a while since you’ve made a bet or placed real money UFC wager? Below, we’ve included a few of the most important UFC betting tips and strategies for beginners.
Keep in mind that just because these are labeled for newer bettors doesn’t mean they don’t stay important for more serious and professional UFC bettors.
Read the Value Section in the Expert Section Below
Making money betting on the UFC is not just about picking winners and losers. It’s imperative that you understand that not every bet pays out the same amount of money. There are going to be situations where you believe a fighter is going to win but it’s not a smart bet.
Don’t Bet Every Fight
If your entire goal of betting on the UFC is to have fun, you can disregard this tip. If you’re serious about winning money betting on the UFC, pay attention. You should only bet the fights that you have a clear prediction on what you think is going to happen and when the odds support a positive expected value move.
Sometimes this might mean passing on betting on a big main event or a fight that’s heavily popularized. If you don’t have an edge, don’t make a bet.
Don’t Fully Rely on Statistics
Looking at statistics when UFC betting is important. However, stats don’t always tell the whole picture. Make sure you’re watching fight footage and looking for the intangibles that could have an impact on the outcome of a fight.
Additionally, make sure you’re looking at the right statistics.
Check Your Betting Slips for Accuracy
No matter if you choose to bet in-person or take advantage of UFC betting sites, you have to check your tickets for accuracy.
Before and right after you make a bet, take a minute to ensure that everything looks right.
Look that you’re on the right side of the bet, the amount is correct, the odds are right, and that it’s for the correct event. Mistakes do happen.
Shop Lines at the Top UFC Betting Sites
As we’ve already mentioned several times, getting the right UFC odds can be the difference in whether or not you make a bet and how much you can win. But did you know that different UFC sportsbooks might have different odds on the same bet? It’s true.
Before you make a bet on a UFC fight, take the time to look at a few different sportsbooks to see the odds they’re offering. If you can set yourself up for a higher potential profit on an identical bet, it’s a huge move in the right direction.
Don’t Get Sucked into a False Hype Train
Watching the UFC is exciting. Sometimes the excitement is because of the action, and sometimes it comes from the backstories that happen outside of the octagon. Remember this.
The announcers and MMA media have one job—entertain and get you hyped up. What this means is that you may see a big push behind a fighter who has an interesting story (like maybe a comeback). The excitement might not match up with the actual likelihood of that fighter winning.
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Expert UFC Betting Strategies
Value, Value, Value
What separates beginner UFC bettors and the pros is the ability to spot and capitalize on value. Just because you think a fighter is going to win doesn’t mean it’s automatically a smart bet. You have to be in a position to win enough money to cover the risk of the bet.
When you find UFC bets that pay more money than they should based on the likelihood of the wager happening, you’ve found value (and a great bet).
Let’s break it down with an example.
Let’s say Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou have an upcoming fight. Here are the odds on the fight:
If you think Ngannou is going to win, is it a smart bet to make? It depends. There are two ways to figure this out. First, you can create an algorithm that tells you the percentage chance that each fighter is going to win. You can compare the findings of your algorithm to the available odds to look for discrepancies— which would be what we call value.
The second way to do this is basically the same thing, except a slightly less mathematical way of doing it. Ask yourself if both fighters were to fight 100 times, how many times would each fighter win? Let’s say you think that if these two fought 100 times, Ngannou would win 65 of those times. 65 out of 100 means you think Ngannou would win 65% of the time.
Now, let’s convert the payout odds of (-140) to an implied probability. You can do this with an online calculator. This tells you that (-140) is equivalent to a 58.3% probability. This means, assuming your 65% prediction is correct, you have a great bet here.
You’ll be getting paid as if the bet is only going to win 58% of the time (rarer which means more money), but it’s actually going to happen 65% of the time. This means you stand to win more than you should, and over the long run—you’ll make money.
Here’s what that looks like if you’re right. We’ll assume the fighter fight 20 times and Ngannou wins 13 of those times (65%). But we’ll also assume you’re getting paid (-140) on each bet.
|Bet #||Odds||Bet Size||Potential Profit||Outcome||Profit/Loss|
As you can see, this is a bet that has value. You may be saying, “But I don’t get to bet the same fight 20 times?” And you are correct.
Betting Fighters Who Missed Weight
Fighters in the UFC are required to make a certain weight to compete. This ensures that the fight is fair between both opponents. When an opponent misses weight, they are given a particular amount of time to make that weight (usually a few hours). If they can’t make it, it’s up to the other fighter if they still want to fight. When this happens, the fighter who missed weight generally gives up a percentage of their payday.
When it comes to betting on or against fighters that missed weight, there are things you need to ask.
If it’s close, it’s possible they tried to make weight and may have drained a lot of energy trying to get there (cardio issues).
If it’s far off, you have to ask more questions. Did they have an undisclosed injury that had an impact? Did they have a lazy training camp without a lot of discipline?
How much is the weight difference going to impact the fight? Bigger fighters may have more control when it comes to the ground game and the clinch. However, if the extra weight is from laziness, what’s the impact on cardio?
Does the fighter have a history of missing weight? If so, how did they perform in those fights? If not, really dig into what’s different this time.
Over the last 8 years, fighters who missed weight in the UFC went 51-48. 53% of the time the fighter who made weight won the fight. If you had bet $10 on every fighter that missed weight, you’d be down about $73 (-7% ROI).
Underdogs vs Favorites in the UFC
One of the biggest debates in the UFC betting community is whether or not it’s a good idea to take the underdog. And while we think you should look at every fight independently, there’s a lot you can glean from looking at some statistics.
Let’s start there, and then we’ll look at some other factors to consider when betting on or against an underdog in the UFC.
Overall in the UFC, the underdog has won 35% of the time in the last 8 years (1115-2066).
When you adjust what you might make for the odds, you don’t really see much of an edge on either side, which supports our argument to look at each fight independently.
That being said, you can start to draw some potential conclusions when you look at ROI based on how big of a favorite or underdog the fighter was.
- Fighters who are between +186 and +150 to win are 192-275. This is good for a 41% win rate. The implied probability of the odds works out to 37%, which means if you bet all of these fights on the underdog, you’d see a 4% ROI.
- Fighters who are between +150 and +122 to win are 270-331. This is good for a 45% win rate. The implied probability of the odds works out to 42%, which means if you bet all of these fights on the underdog, you’d see a 3% ROI.
- On the favorite side of things, you’d see in this data a positive ROI for all fighters:
- (-186) or better
- (-186) to (-233) = 1% ROI
- (-233) to (-300) = 2% ROI
- (-300) to (-400) = 2% ROI
- (-400) to (-567) = 1% ROI
- (-567) to (-900) = 4% ROI
- (-900) or more = 1% ROI
The majority of UFC fights you bet on are going to have an underdog or a favorite. When the odds are close or it’s a tossup, utilize your normal UFC betting strategies. But what happens when one fighter is a significant favorite or underdog? Here are some UFC betting tips to consider when analyzing those fights.
- Can you realistically see a path to victory for the underdog? If you can’t clearly articulate how the underdog is going to win, it’s probably not a great bet.
- Determine the implied probability of each fighter winning as we discussed in the value section above. This is the best way to determine whether or not one side of the bet is wise.
- Be extra careful of the hype train here. The announcers and the media have to make a fight sound interesting, even if they believe it’s going to be a beating.
Taking Fighter Age into Account
So, who reigns supreme—grandpa or the young bucks? Well, this is a big question you should be asking when it comes to betting on the UFC. Let’s do how we do and start with some data and then dig into it.
In the last 8 years, here are the win percentages by age in all of MMA:
|25 – 30||1261||889||59%|
|31 – 35||1913||1828||51%|
|36 – 40||1106||1278||46%|
While these UFC stats are extremely helpful, it doesn’t paint the entire picture. What we really want to know for our UFC betting is how older fighters compare against younger fighters (and vice versa).
- When fighters were 5 years apart or more, the younger fighter won 61% of the time (782-467).
- When fighters were 10 years apart or more, the younger fighter won 64% of the time (136-73).
So, it looks like the young bucks do prevail in the long run. However, again, look at each fight independently. Pay special attention to veteran fighters who know how to win through a smart game plan when faced with adversity.
Fight Camps, Coaches, and Training Partners
One of the most overlooked areas of information, when people are betting on the UFC for money, is the support system around the fighter. The cliché phrase that iron sharpens iron should be at the forefront of your mind when making your picks.
The amount of research you can do when it comes to fight camps, coaches, and training partners is immense. What we want to do today is give you a ton of suggestions of areas where you can start digging when making your picks.
- How good are their training partners? Are they training with very high-level fighters (possibly better than they are)?
- How similar are their training partners to the fighter they’re facing? Training with a lot of high-level strikers is great but could cause issues if you’re facing a top-tier wrestler.
- How good are the coaches at game planning a winning strategy? Do the coaches have a winning record across all fighters they train?
- Did the fighter make any changes to their fight camp this time around? Are those positive or negative moves?
- Where have they been training? Are they at an area with elevation that might give them a cardio advantage (especially if the fight is somewhere with elevation)?
Debut Fighters vs. Veterans
What’s neat about the UFC is that there are always new up-and-coming fighters getting a shot. This has become especially true with the Contender Series and the Ultimate Fighter show. But how do these fighters do when they face veterans of the sport? What do you need to take into account when UFC betting on these fighters? Let’s take a look.
- In the last 8 years, 209 fighters won their debut, while 277 lost. This is a 43% win rate.
- The highest win percentage of debut fighters came at middleweight (65%).
Here’s a look at win percentages by fighters making their debut broken down by weight class:
|Weight Class||Wins||Losses||Win %|
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Online UFC Gambling FAQ
Learning how to bet on ufc fights can be a long road with many questions. Here are a few been asked multiple times over the years:
Do keep in mind that you can (and should) line shop all of your bets independently. There's no rule that says every bet needs to be made at the same real money online sportsbook.