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How to Bet on MMA

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Not all that long ago, boxing ruled the American landscape when it came to the popularity of watching and betting on combat sports. In fact, boxing and horse racing were two of the most popular sports in the country for most of the 20th Century. However, one could argue that boxing started falling behind MMA near the end of Mike Tyson’s memorable reign as the heavyweight champion of the world.

Now boxing is a bunch of unknown fighters and full of organizations that few fans can name. MMA, meanwhile, has taken off and is now much more popular than boxing. Not too long ago, the UFC signed a billion-dollar contract with ESPN to show several fight cards a year. There is almost never a weekend now where there isn’t some sort of UFC or Bellator fight. The UFC reigns supreme thanks in large part to terrific promoting from president Dana White, but Bellator is a solid No. 2. 

Much like in boxing, the UFC is made up of several weight divisions. Fighters can move up a division and fight heavier opponents but can’t go down and battle lighter ones. The current UFC divisions are: flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight, women’s strawweight, women’s flyweight, women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight

White said earlier this decade that he would never allow women to fight in the UFC but the rise in popularity of former American MMA fighter Ronda Rousey changed White’s mind and now some women’s fights headline major cards.

Here’s quick look at how to bet on MMA.

MMA Odds

Moneyline

While there is a point spread in sports like basketball or football for oddsmakers to even the playing field from a betting perspective, that’s not possible in MMA. So each fighter will get a moneyline price on whether he/she wins the fight and it doesn’t matter how. Here’s an example of how a betting menu would look to wager on a potential fight between light heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound king Jon Jones and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya

Jon Jones -550

Israel Adesanya +375

This means that $100 bet on the underdog Adesanya would return $375 if he wins, while it would take a $550 wager on Jones to return $100. Again, for this basic type of bet, it doesn’t matter how the fighter wins: knockout/technical knockout, by submission, by decision, by disqualification, etc. It is possible for a fight to end in a draw and if so, money is returned. 

Round Betting

Title fights and bouts headlining UFC cards are scheduled for five rounds – the sport is too brutal to go 12 rounds like a typical boxing match – while non-title fights or those not headlining are scheduled for three. One simple version of round betting is over/under the amount of rounds it will last. So, a title fight could like this:

Ov 4.5 rounds (-150)

Un 4.5 rounds (+180)

That means if a Jones-Adesanya fight went the full five rounds, the over would be the winner and a $150 wager on that would return $100. If the fight ended before the midway point of the fifth round, then the under would win and $180 would return $100. UFC rounds are five minutes each with a rest period of one minute in between. 

There are also options on each fighter to win by each round. For example:

*-Jon Jones to win in Round 1

No -800

Yes +600

*-Israel Adesanya to win in Round 2

No -600

Yes +450

*-Jon Jones to win Round 3

+800

*-Any other result

-1500

Prop Betting

A very popular prop is how the fight is won exactly. 

*-Jon Jones to win by TKO/KO

Yes -320

No +260

*-Israel Adesanya to win by decision

No -340

Yes +280

*-Jon Jones to win by submission

No -850

Yes +650

*-Israel Adesanya to win inside distance

No -550

Yes +425

Inside distance means a win by any form other than if the fight goes to the judges at the end of three or five full rounds. 

*-Jon Jones vs. Israel Adesanya going the distance

Yes -120

No +100

Obviously, this means the fight does go the full five or three rounds and the judges decide.

*-Will there be a disqualification?

Yes +1800

No -5000

There are more than 30 different types of fouls - including spitting, hair pulling and kicking the head of a grounded opponent. The referee can disqualify a fighter at his discretion but usually it takes a series of blatant fouls.

Those are just some prop options. The bigger the fight, the more props there are likely to be. For example, a recent championship bout asked: Who is first fighter to bleed. 

Parlays also are an option and that’s betting on multiple fight outcomes/props where all have to win to win the parlay. Bigger return on a wager but also less likely to all occur.

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