One of the most important things that you need to be aware of before you start betting on a particular sport is what different bets are available to you. When it comes to mixed martial arts (MMA), you have the ability to bet on a lot more than just who is going to have their hand raised at the end of the fight. These other betting options give you the ability to make money on any prediction you have about how the fight is going to go even if it’s not a prediction of the winner.
In this article, we’d like to share with you all of the different types of bets that you can make during an MMA fight. Keep in mind that not all sportsbooks are going to offer this extensive of action on every fight, but you should be able to find most of these bets everywhere and the lesser known ones somewhere. You should also keep in mind that you don’t have to utilize all of these bets or even more than just one to turn a profit. We will address that further at the end of the article.
The most popular bet that you can make on an MMA fight is a moneyline bet. Often referred to in betting circles as a to-win bet, this is not only the most popular bet to make, but it is also the easiest to understand. If you’re a brand new sports bettor or a brand new MMA sports bettor, moneyline bets are certainly where you are going to want to start.
To win a moneyline bet on an MMA fight, only one thing needs to happen. The fighter that you bet on needs to win the fight. It does not matter how they go about getting the victory, how pretty of a win it is, or how long into the fight it takes them. All that matters to your MMA moneyline bet is that your fighter wins.
For example, let’s say that Luke Rockhold and George St-Pierre (GSP) are going to fight. All you have to do for a moneyline bet is pick who you think is going to win. If you think Rockhold is going to win, then you place a moneyline bet on Rockhold. If you think GSP is going to win, you place a moneyline bet him. If the fighter you picked to win is the winner, you win your bet. We could give you examples all day, but it really is that simple.
Now, the one thing that you might not understand if you’re new to all of this is how the payouts work. The sportsbook is not going to pay out the same amount of money on each fighter. If you could get the same amount of money for a win no matter who you bet on, everyone would just bet the favorites every time, and the sportsbook would quickly lose all of their money. Obviously, they aren’t in the business of charity or losing money, so they have to do something to account for this.
What they do is offer to pay out more money for a moneyline bet on an underdog and less money on a moneyline bet on the favorite. The amount more or less they choose to pay out will be based on how big of a favorite or underdog each fighter is. The idea is that this will balance the bets on both sides of the fight. While the favorite is more likely to win which will entice action, the lower payouts will help to slow action. On the other side, the underdog is less likely to win which will slow action on them, but the higher payout for a win will entice bettors to take that side. The sportsbook will continually adjust these lines based on how the action is coming in and where they want to try and get more bets.
If you’d like to learn more about moneyline bets, how they pay out, and some tips to really understand them, we highly recommend you take a minute and check out our Moneyline Bets page where we will break this all down. If you already understand moneyline bets but want to see some advanced writing on the subject, check out our Understanding Value and How Betting Lines Work guide where we take a heavy look into calculating value with moneylines.
The takeaway here is that moneyline bets in MMA are the simplest bets to understand and to make. If you have a strong prediction on who is going to win a fight, this is the bet that you’re going to be interested in looking at. Remember, though, not all bets pay out the same, so you need to make sure that the amount of money you are risking is bringing in a potential reward that you are pleased with.
A popular type of MMA bet that we want to introduce you to is the method of victory bet. As you can probably deduce from the name of the bet, this is a wager that has to do with how the fight ends. Instead of picking out who is going to win the fight, you’re picking out how the fight is going to end. Now, these bets are becoming less popular and a little more difficult to find as they are being replaced by double chance bets which we will cover in the next section. That being said, they are still offered and can still make you money, so we want to cover them.
With a pure method of victory bet, all you have to do is pick how the fight is going to end. It does not matter at all who wins the fight as long as it ends in the manner that you say it is. For example, let’s say there’s an upcoming bout between two jiu-jitsu fighters who you just know are going to go to the ground and try and submit each other. Let’s also say that you know these two fighters are great at finishing submissions and a little weaker on the defensive side of things. But, let’s also say that you’re not really sure who is going to get the best of who. What do you bet?
Well, this is where the method of victory bet in MMA comes in. With this bet, you only have to be right about how the fight ends. In this example, you’d bet that you think the fight is going to end by submission. As long as the fight ends by one of these fighters submitting the other, you’re a winner. If it goes to decision or ends by knockout (KO)/technical knockout (TKO), you don’t win. But, if the fight ends by submission, you win your bet.
As was the case with the moneyline bets, the different selection options are not going to all payout the same. If you have two boring fighters with little submission skills or knockout power, you can expect to see lower payouts on decision and much higher payouts on KO/TKO and submission. Again, these lines are initially set based on the perceived likelihood of each occurring and then they adjust based on what the betting public chooses to bet. If this last paragraph confuses you, check out the moneyline guide we linked to in the previous section. The information in there is pertinent to each of the choices here except you have more than two options to choose from.
The wager that is starting to replace the method of victory bet in MMA is the double chance bet. What’s funny, though, is you will usually see the double chance bet listed as a method of victory bet even though it is something different. So, if you happen to see these bets titled method of victory, just realize that this is what the sportsbook is talking about.
A double chance bet is a mix between the first two bets we talked about – the to-win bet and the method of victory bet. Now, instead of having to pick either or correctly with the other not mattering, you have to pick both correctly. You have to pick who you think is going to win the fight and the method in which you think they are going to win the fight. You must get both right in order to win your bet.
Now, this obviously sounds a lot harder than the previous two bets. But, the sportsbook is aware of that and will be offering much better payouts on these wagers if you get it right. Typically, the more specific that a bet is in MMA, the more money that you stand to win on your wager. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say that Luke Rockhold and GSP are going to fight. If you were to make a moneyline (to-win) bet, all you would have to pick out is who wins the fight, and it wouldn’t matter how they went about doing it. If you were going to make a method of victory bet, all you would have to pick out is how the fight was going to end, and it wouldn’t matter who the actual winner was. But, if you were going to make a double chance bet, these would be your options on this fight.
Notice that each of your options has a fighter to win and the method in which they do it. When you see this in the real sportsbook, there are also going to be different payout odds with each option. If Rockhold is the favorite and everyone thinks he’s going to knock out GSP, you’ll get the lowest payout odds on Rockhold by KO/TKO. The second and third lowest odds will be on Rockhold by decision and Rockhold by submission because Rockhold is still the favorite to win. You’d then see varying odds on each of GSP’s methods of victory as well, but they would most likely all be better paying than any of the Rockhold payouts. Again, this is all theoretical and assuming that Rockhold is the favorite and the favorite by knockout.
Bets like this are great to make when you have a very precise prediction about how an MMA fight is going to go. They’re harder to win, but the payouts are going to be a lot sweeter to reward you for your troubles.
An additional area where you can place wagers on MMA fights is with how long the fight lasts. There are four main types of round bets that you can make – go the distance, over/under rounds, and specific round picks. There is technically a fifth where this gets mixed with having to pick a winner as well, but we’ll stick to the main four for now.
This is a wager on whether the fight is going to go to the judge’s scorecards (all schedule rounds will be fought with both fighters still standing and in the contest). If you think that the fight is going to end prior to that either by disqualification, KO/TKO, or submission, then you would bet that the fight would not go the distance. If you think both fighters are going to survive through to the judges, you bet that it goes the distance.
It does not matter who wins the fight, only how long it lasts. Now, sometimes you are going to see this in the form of a prop bet which we will cover later. Basically, you’ll be asked yes or no if the fight will go the distance and there will be different odds on each outcome. Sometimes you will also see this represented as an over/under rounds which we will cover now.
The over/under rounds bet has to do with how long the fight is going to. The sportsbook will set a line (usually 2.5 rounds in a championship bout and 1.5 rounds in a regular three-round contest), and you will be betting on whether or not the fight will go over or under that length. So, let’s say for example that you are betting on a five-round championship fight and the over/under line is set at 2.5 rounds. If you bet the under, you are betting that the fight will end before the 2 minutes and 30-second mark of the third round. If it ends for any reason before that, you would win your under bet. If it goes any longer than that including to the judges, the over bet would bet the winner.
If the fight somehow goes exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the third round, most sportsbooks would call this a push (tie) and return everyone’s bets. But, if you’re concerned about this, we recommend checking with the site just in case it’s important to you, and in case they handle it differently.
Again, there will be different odds on each side of this bet. If you have two monsters that are expected to knock each other out quickly, you’ll get paid a lot less on the under, but a lot more on the over based on the likelihood of each occurring.
As we mentioned earlier, these over/under bets in MMA can also be used to satisfy the “go the distance” bets. What they would do is set an over/under line at 4.5 rounds for championship bouts and 2.5 rounds for regular fights. This bet would usually be in addition to the other over/under betting line set at the middle of the fight.
Now, while this is designed to be a go the distance bet, it is a little bit different. In the championship fight example, you would be betting on an over/under of 4.5 rounds. If you felt the fight was going to go the distance to the judges, you would take the over of 4.5 rounds. If the fight went to the judges, you would win. But, you’re actually going to get a little extra here as you are betting over 4.5 rounds which means if the fight doesn’t go the distance but ends in the last half of the fifth round, you are still a winner.
On the other side, the “not go the distance” bettor is losing half a round here. This is usually reflected in the odds if both types of bets (prop and over/under) are available, but you should check this every single time to make sure you can’t get a free half a round for the same odds.
Most major MMA promotions are now giving out fight awards. If you look at the UFC, they give out bonuses for fight of the night, knockout of the night, submission of the night, and performance of the night. Many online sportsbooks now allow you to bet on who you think is going to win these awards. All you have to do is pick out which fight or fighter you think is going to win and place your bet. Some sportsbooks will make you pick by individual fighter for the individual awards, but some will allow you to just pick the fight which in effect gives you two chances to win the bet.
There’s nothing special about these bets that you have to do to win. Pick who you think will win an award that night and if they get said award, you win your bet! As is the case with every other bet on this page, there will be varying odds for each fighter based on the likelihood of them winning each award.
Prop bets are wagers where the sportsbook asks you if you think something is going to happen or not. A lot of times you’ll see a lot of the other bets mentioned on this page lumped into this category, so keep that in mind when you are looking for wagers to make. They might be available, but they might be hiding in the prop betting category. For example, the method of victory bet and the double chance bet are considered by a lot of sportsbooks to be prop bets. If you’re looking for them and can’t find them, check the prop betting section.
Some other prop bets you could see on a fight are will someone land a takedown or not, who will land more significant strikes, who will throw the first strike, or who will bleed first in the fight. While some of these might seem strange, some expertise could help you to make a wise prediction on some of these prop bets. You’re not going to see props like this for every fight and certainly not at every sportsbook, but you are going to see a lot more of them for higher-profile fights and at sportsbooks that cater to MMA bettors.
Additionally, prop bets can sometimes be about “silly” things that have nothing to do with the fight. For example, some sportsbooks will allow you to bet on things like whether or not Dana White will wear a jacket into the Octagon after the main event. Or, you might be able to bet on how many times McGregor says the F-word at a press conference. Literally, anything that the sportsbook wants to have action on you might find here.
Keep in mind that some of these sillier prop bets are going to have betting caps on them because you could obviously get a leg up if you know Dana White or see an Instagram post of what he’s wearing before the fight.
The last type of MMA bet that we want to talk about is actually a style of betting that encompasses all of the previous wagers. We’re talking about live betting (sometimes called in-game or in-match wagering). This is when you are able to place bets on the fight after it has started. Sportsbooks that offer this will allow you to make wagers in between rounds of what you think is going to happen in coming rounds.
Obviously, the odds on everything will be based on how the previous rounds have gone. For example, let’s say that one fighter is a huge underdog before the fight. Your odds on them winning would be incredible. But, let’s say they come out and are destroying the favorite in the first round. If you go to make a live bet on them in between the first and second rounds, you’re not going to get such great odds on them because it now looks like they have a much better chance of winning the fight. But, the odds on the favorite are now going to be much better, so if you think they are going to be able to still get the job done, you can now get some awesome odds on them.
Not all sportsbooks are going to offer live MMA betting, but it’s pretty awesome when you find a book that does offer it. If you’re a sharp bettor who can really get a feel for how a fight is going, you can make a lot of money live betting MMA. The sportsbook is forced to set lines extremely quickly which sets them up for making mistakes. Additionally, the betting public will have to make bets quickly, and if they don’t know what they’re doing (which they never do), you’re going to be able to pick up some pretty awesome lines that were not available before the fight. But, you’ll have to be quick on your feet too.
The last thing we want to talk about is a question we often get from newer MMA bettors. Do you need to use all of these different bets to turn a profit betting on MMA? The answer could not be a clearer no! You can make a ton of money betting on MMA and doing nothing but picking fight winners and placing moneyline bets.
The reason we share all these different bet types with you is that we want you to know what options you have. Can you make a lot of money betting on MMA using all of these bet types? Yup! It all comes down to what your strategy is and what you’re best at predicting. If you’re great at predicting fight winners, then just do that. If you’re awesome at only predicting when fights will end, just bet on that. If you’re great at predicting everything, then bet on everything.
The secret to success is being able to determine what you’re good at and focus your efforts there. Equally, it’s important to be able to determine what you are not good at and focus your efforts elsewhere.