When you bet on mixed martial arts fights, there are tons of articles and strategy guides out there that will tell you what you should do. However, the most important information is often what you should not do. We’re talking about the tempting things that you should avoid and the common mistakes that newer and sometimes seasoned sports bettors make.
In this guide, that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about. We’re going to give you a full list of the most common and most costly MMA betting mistakes. If you can avoid making these mistakes, you stand to put yourself in a much stronger position to be a profitable MMA bettor.
While these MMA betting mistakes are not listed with any sort of priority ranking, this is certainly one that would be towards the top if we did. Too often, we hear MMA bettors relying solely on their fighter to knock out the other fighter. They don’t care about cardio, technique, fight styles, nothing else… Their path to victory is that the fighter they like is going to knock out the other guy or gal, end of story.
Now, while this may end up happening and could be a good prediction, you can’t just rely on the KO or TKO when making your picks. You need to have backup plans in case the fight goes a little longer than you’re expecting or if their opponent has a stronger chin than you accounted for. We’re not saying that you can’t make a prediction that a fighter is going to win by quick knockout. What we’re saying is you just can’t have that be your only path to victory.
Look to have a much more well-rounded prediction that accounts for what happens if the knockout doesn’t come as quickly as you think it’s going to.
In a sport where people punch each other in the face and try to break each other’s appendages, you can expect there are going to be injuries. These injuries are not just going to happen in the fights themselves, but are going to happen during training. It’s fairly common knowledge that most MMA fighters are never at 100% and are dealing with at least some sort of injury. But, because they don’t get paid unless they show up on fight night, you’re often going to see them hide these injuries and downplay how bad they are to ensure they get their paycheck. Frankly, we don’t blame them.
Now, what does all of that have to do with you and betting on MMA? Well, you need to realize that the information you get from injury reports is not always going to be accurate. First, injuries might not even be reported in an injury report. This could be to ensure the fighter is allowed to fight or to avoid giving their opponent an advantage knowing where to attack. If you’re a fighter who has a messed up right hand and your opponent finds out about this, your opponent will then know that you’re going to be hesitant to throw attacks with your right hand. They can start to build a new game plan based around this information that will give them a significant advantage.
Second, for this same reason, when injuries are reported, the information you get on them may not be completely accurate. The injury may be way worse than is dictated or it may be much more healed than the team is letting on to. This is all gamesmanship between the two camps trying to ensure that they don’t inadvertently give up an advantage before the fight even starts.
For you as a bettor, this is something you need to be aware of and calculate into your predictions. If you are making a pick based solely on an injury report, you may be walking into a trap and not even realize it. Are we saying that you should ignore injury reports? No, that’s not what we are saying. What we are saying is that you need to take them in with the right mindset. Be aware that the information might not be accurate.
In order to get accurate information, you’re going to have to do a little homework on your own. First, you can watch training camp footage of the fighter or footage from the open workouts the week before the fight and look to see how they look. For example, if there is a report that they may have a right-hand injury, you can look to see if they are throwing fewer strikes than normal with that hand. Are they throwing right-hand strikes with the same power or does it look like they might be backing off a little bit? You’re not going to get this information in the injury reports, but you can certainly pick it up yourself by spending a few minutes watching footage.
Second, you can do a little homework on the injury itself and look at standard healing times as well as healing times for athletes. Athletes do heal quicker than “regular” people for a lot of injuries, but they still have to take time to recover and heal. If they are claiming to be 100% with an injury that takes 3 months to heal and it’s been two weeks, you probably can deduce that they are fibbing. Sure, you’re never going to know with 100% certainty, but you have to work with the information and resources that you’re given. You’re not going to get accurate injury reports, so you’ll have to do your own homework and draw your own conclusion.
We love the MMA community and the MMA media, so this is not meant as an attempt to bash them by any means. That being said, it’s important that you understand their purpose within the industry and how that relates to your betting. The purpose of the MMA media is to entertain fans, inform you of recent happenings, and get you pumped up for upcoming fights. If you notice, nowhere in there did we say that they are concerned about helping you make good value betting picks. Why didn’t we say that? Because that’s not what they do.
The news media could not care any less about whether you are winning your sports bets or not. All they care about is that people continue to watch, read, or listen to their program. The way they achieve that is by running interesting stories and pushing narratives that entertain. Additionally, most sportscasters don’t understand the concept of betting value and think that all you have to do is pick winners to be a profitable sports bettor.
The only exception to this are MMA writers or shows that are directed specifically at sports bettors. Shows where they discuss the odds and talk about whether or not they think they’re correct are the only types of MMA media that you should be using to help you make your picks. When you’re being a fan, it’s totally okay to enjoy these other shows, but you have to remember that they are not designed to help you make money. They are simply designed to keep you entertained.
One thing we also want to add – make sure that if you do happen to find articles or shows that are directed towards MMA bettors that you validate the writers or hosts know what they’re talking about. Anyone can pretend to be an expert when it comes to betting on MMA, but unless they have a proven track record of success, they may be no better than the drunk guy at Hooters that spouts off his expert picks while drooling over a Big Daddy beer and a plate of wings.
Looking for trends is a great way to find edges in your MMA betting. For example, if you notice that a fighter is consistently struggling with taller left-handers, you may be onto something. Or, if you realize that a fighter constantly struggles against smaller and quicker fighters, you may be onto something. These are just a few examples of trends that are good to pay attention to when making your MMA predictions.
But, there are some trends that might seem really cool but will have absolutely no impact on the outcome of an upcoming fight. For example, if you see that a particular fighter is 5-0 in fights against fighters who were born in Japan. While this is a fun stat to know, it really has no impact on the outcome of an upcoming fight. It’s merely a coincidence and nothing more.
Make sure when you are analyzing trends with fighters that you only focus on ones that will have an effect on the outcome of the upcoming fight. This means that you’re going to have to use your brain and determine which trends matter and which are just a cool coincidence. If it has something to do with skill sets or technical aspects of each fighter, then it’s probably something that is worth paying attention to. But, if it has to do with something logistical about the fight like the day of the week or where the fighters are from or something like that, it’s probably something that would make for great conversation, but just be in the way of making an educated fight pick.
The bottom line – skill-based trends are awesome and coincidental trends are not when it comes to picking winners and making money betting on MMA fights.
Betting on every single fight on a card can be tempting and at times seem like what you’re supposed to do. There’s really no other way to say this than as blunt as possible – this is not the right thing to do. You should only be betting on fights where you have a clear prediction on how the fight is going to go, and you feel that the betting payouts are adequate for the risk that you are taking. If you only have one or neither of these two things, then you should not be betting that fight at all.
Smart sports bettors (and by smart we mean the ones who consistently make money) know that you should only bet opportunities that have value. If the line on a fight (what you get paid for what you bet) is not offering you any value, then you’re just gambling if you’re taking either side of that fight. Just because you think that a fighter is going to win a fight does not mean that bet is a smart wager from a profitability standpoint. You need to be getting more reward than you’re supposed to for your risk or else you’re not going to be making money long term.
Here’s the bottom line. Don’t bet every fight. Unless you have a clear prediction on the outcome of a fight and you feel that the payout offers value, you need to walk away from that fight. If you’re betting every single fight on a card, we can almost certainly say that you’re forcing bets. Even if you’re able to have a clear prediction on each fight, not every fight is going to offer you value.
Keep in mind that this does mean there will be times that you only bet one fight on a card. You also may find yourself skipping the high-profile fights and the main event. While this isn’t as fun, you have to keep in mind what your end goal is. If that end goal is about fun and entertainment, then bet whatever you want. But, if that end goal is about making money which we assume it is, you need to exercise some discipline when it comes to choosing which fights you’re going to bet.
One of our favorite things about MMA is that they allow the fans to get to know the fighters. Whether it’s through interviews or press conferences, we get to see the personalities of the fighters and who they are as people. This can create some really entertaining storylines leading up to a fight especially when the trash talking is at an all-time high.
That being said, you need to make sure that you don’t let a fighter’s personality influence your betting choices. Just because a fighter is easy to hate does not mean they are terrible in the ring. Just because a fighter is very likable and speaks confidently about their abilities does not mean they are suddenly any stronger of a fighter in the cage.
The worst case of this that we see are bettors that buy into the trash talk. They hear a fighter say over and over how much they are going to smash their opponent, and they start to believe it regardless of whether it’s backed up by fact. They start to get on board the hype train, and it starts to affect the betting choices they make.
You have to protect yourself from this happening. The best way to protect yourself is to make your predictions and picks before you watch any press conferences or read any statements that are purely for propaganda purposes. Once you’ve made your picks that are rooted in facts, then you can become a fan again and enjoy the trash talking or press conference personalities of the fighters. If you get this out of order, though, you risk letting the words coming out of a fighter’s mouth talking you into making a bad betting pick that’s going to cost you money.
If you’re taking the time to look at both fighter’s records before an upcoming bout, you’re on the right path to doing the right thing. But, you need to make sure that you’re taking things far enough or you might be wasting your time and not doing yourself a whole lot of good. What we mean is this. If you are just looking at a fighter’s overall professional record, you’re not doing enough.
If you see that they are 12-2, that’s great, but what exactly does that tell you? The answer is not enough. Sure, it tells you that they’ve won 10 more fights than they’ve lost, but it doesn’t tell you much that can help you in predicting the outcome of their upcoming fight. You need to go a step further and look into these numbers.
First, you need to start by looking at when the wins and the losses occurred. If a fighter was 12-0 and then lost their last two, you’re going to want to investigate why they’re on a losing streak. Were their first 12 fights against easier opponents and now that they’re dealing with real talent they are losing? Did they have some sort of injury recently that is causing them to struggle in the cage? You need to look into these things to make sure you’re not putting your money onto a horse that has no shot of winning.
Second, you want to look at who each of these fights especially the more recent ones were against. Specifically, you’re looking for fights against fighters who are similar to their upcoming opponent. The best is if they’ve fought that exact opponent before, but that is not always an option. The second best are fighters with similar skill sets as their upcoming opponent. For example, if they have an upcoming fight against a great Jiu Jitsu practitioner, how did they do in past fights against strong Jiu Jitsu fighters? Sure, it’s not going to be perfect because every fighter is different, but it is going to give you a pretty good idea as to how they’ll do against similar competition.
Remember, the more recent the fight that you’re looking at, the better. Also, the more fights you have that match the criteria, the better. If you are looking at a three-year-old fight where they lost to a great Jiu Jitsu fighter once, that might not be a great indicator of how they’ll do in an upcoming bout against a Jiu Jitsu fighter. It’s possible that was a one-time fluke defeat or it’s possible that in the past three years they’ve devoted themselves to improving their ground game.
These are all things that you’ll need to research when you’re analyzing a fighter’s record. Don’t just look at the total number of wins and losses or you’re going to be making a mistake. Break things down as far as you need to in order to withdraw the intel and conclusions that you need to make your MMA predictions.
The single biggest mistake that you could be making with your MMA betting is choosing not to shop your betting lines. Not only is this the biggest and most costly mistake you could be making, but it’s also the easiest one to fix. It only takes a few minutes of additional “work” to correct, but for some reason, people just have a tendency not to do it.
Line shopping is just a phrase that refers to checking multiple sportsbooks to ensure you’re getting the highest potential payout on your bets. All you have to do when you’re betting online is open 2-3 different sportsbooks, look at what they are paying on each bet you want to make, and then make your bets with the book that is paying you the most. It’s that simple.
Do you need to shop at more than 2 or 3 sportsbooks? Nope. While you may occasionally find a slightly better line, it’s probably not worth the added effort. Just checking even one more sportsbook is plenty. Do you need to place all of your bets with one sportsbook? Nope. Shop all of your bets individually and place each individually where you’ll be getting paid more money.
If you can get paid more money for the exact same bet, you’d be really doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of that. Line shopping only takes a few seconds or minutes. The only excuse you have for not doing it is that you’re too lazy. Don’t be lazy and make sure you’re not leaving free money on the table.
So, we’ve spent the last few sections talking all about what you’re not supposed to do when it comes to betting on MMA. But, what about what you are supposed to do? Well, we’ve got you covered on that. We have a full MMA strategy guide linked below that is going to cover everything you need to know to get started betting on MMA fights the right way. Couple that knowledge with what you’ve learned here today, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a profitable MMA sports bettor!