MMA Betting Strategy

Betting on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is absolutely exploding in popularity all
over the world. As a relatively new sport to mainstream betting, MMA presents
some unique opportunities for sharp bettors like you to make big profits. That
is of course if you know what you’re doing.

Unlike other major sports, MMA
requires a unique and systematic approach to making your predictions. With so
many fighters and different organizations, it can be tough to stay up to speed
with all of the fighters and make smart picks.

Thankfully, we’ve put together an
extensive guide with tips and strategies to help you make the best picks you
can. These strategies coupled with your knowledge will have you on the road to
profitability in no time.

Reasons MMA Betting is Profitable

Understanding why you are betting on a particular sport is important because
it begins to get your mind looking in the right direction for value and
money-making opportunities. Too often, people will just bet on things without
realizing the reasoning behind it. Knowing these reasons can help you to find
value in bets and places you might not have originally thought to look.

More Bad Lines

It’s no secret that the oddsmakers are really good at their jobs. It’s
uncommon that they make mistakes and set bad lines. However, this sort of
perfectionism did not happen overnight. These oddsmakers have been setting lines
on other sports for a long time and have perfected their craft. MMA betting is
fairly new, though.

Most oddsmakers setting lines are fairly new and are most
likely not MMA specialists but people that transitioned from setting lines on
other sports. With brand new oddsmakers, it’s a lot more likely that bad lines
could be set. While this is still not that common, it’s a lot more common than
with other sports and creates some fantastic opportunities if you’re poised to

An Uneducated Betting Public

Historically, the betting public as a whole has been known to not be that
great at sports betting. There is a reason that casinos are so beautiful and
sportsbooks owners are rolling in the dough. While you’re betting against the
house with a sports bet, you can still take advantage of the betting public and
their mistakes. Sportsbooks do their best to have the same amount of money bet
on each side of a fight. If a ton of people bet on one fighter, they will make
the odds a lot sweeter on the other fighter to entice action. This delicate
balancing act goes on all the way until the fight starts.

The betting public has a strong tendency of betting with their hearts instead
of their minds. They love to jump on heartwarming stories or bet against
fighters they despise. While this might make them feel better when placing their
better, it doesn’t do them much good in the profit department. If the public
bets way too heavily on one fighter based on their personal feelings, you can
get incredible odds on the smarter bet just through their ignorance. The public
has a tendency in MMA to move lines quite a bit, and a lot of times it’s not in
the logical, smart direction. If you can catch on to these opportunities, you
can cash in big. We will cover this in depth shortly.

Transparency of Information

When was the last time you had intimate access to Tom Brady while he was
training? (Not that kind of intimate) What we mean is when was the last time
that you were able to watch Tom Brady practice regularly and see every aspect of
his life leading up to a big game. The answer is never outside of special press
sections. This is because most popular sports are extremely guarded in the
information and access they grant.

MMA is considerably different. The line between fighters and normal people is
not that far. Fighters sometimes work normal jobs or train in gyms that every
day Joes can walk right into. Sure, some of the fighters are a little more
reserved in this manner, but there are a lot of fighters that you have complete
access to and so does the media.

What does this mean? This means there is a TON
of information you can gather to help you make better predictions for your
fights. You can rest assured that the odds makers are probably not going through
all of the information that you have available. This means that you can stumble
upon a lot more that they will miss and make much more educated picks. This will
vary based on how high-profile the fight is.

MMA Betting Tips and Strategies

Understand the Betting Odds

This is the number one tip or strategy we could ever give you for betting on
mixed martial arts. You HAVE to understand how the betting odds work if you want
to be able to make smart bets and find value. There will be times that you think
someone is going to win a fight and betting on them is not a profitable move. If
that confuses you, you 100% need to read this section.

First, you need to understand what sportsbooks are trying to do with every
single bet. They are trying to get the same amount of money bet on both sides of
the bet so that no matter who wins or loses, they make money. Sportsbooks take a
small percentage of each bet (called the juice or rake) to cover their costs and
make their profit. They’re not in the business of gambling themselves so they
want to ensure profit as much as they possibly can.

On most even bets, meaning bets where the possibility of the outcomes is
exactly the same, the sportsbook will pay you out at a rate of -110. This means
that for every $100 you bet, you stand to win $90.90. If the sportsbook got
equal amounts of money on both fighters, they would profit no matter who won.
This is their dream scenario.

Now as you can imagine, this gets tricky when the fighters are not evenly
matched, or the public likes one fighter more than the other. In this situation,
they will change the odds to deter bets from one side and encourage bets on the
other side. They will release an initial line that they think will get even bets
on both sides but will adjust it in real time based on how the best are coming
in. For example, let’s say that Anderson Silva is fighting Chael Sonnen and the
sportsbook thinks Silva is going to win. They release the odds like this:

  • Anderson Silva -400
  • Chael Sonnen +550

If you remember from the earlier section on Moneyline Bets, this means that
Silva is a big favorite and Sonnen is a big underdog. Let’s say the public
thinks that Silva is going to crush and should actually be a much bigger
favorite, so they bet on him like crazy. The sportsbook has to do something, or
else they will stand to lose a lot of money if Silva wins. They will adjust the
odds to make betting on Chael more appealing and betting on Silva less
appealing. They might change to the following:

  • Anderson Silva -600
  • Chael Sonnen +750

In the first example, if you bet $100 on Sonnen, you would profit $550 if he
won. In the second example, if you bet $100 on Sonnen, you would profit $750.
Subsequently, the payouts for Silva get worse in the second example. The idea is
they will keep moving the line this was until more money starts to come in on
Sonnen. They will continue moving it back and forth all the way up until the
fight to try and get equal money on both sides of the bet.

Now, why is this important?

This is the key to understanding the next few
tips we are going to talk about. Also, it’s key to knowing when and if you
should place a bet. For example, let’s say you want to be on Silva to win. At
-400, if you bet $100, you stand to profit $25 for a correct win. This might
sound like a good bet to you as that’s a somewhat decent return on what you
think is a sure bet. At -600, though, if you bet $100, you stand to profit just
over $16. While you still think Silva is going to win, this starts to be risking
a lot of money for a small gain. If the line moves further to say, -800, you’re
risking $100 to win only $12.

While this still could technically be a good bet, we like to stay away from
way too high of a risk for such little reward bets. If you didn’t look at or
understand the odds and just bet based on who you think would win, you could be
risking way more than you thought you were for not a lot in return. If you’re
confused on the odds or want to see how to calculate payouts, check out the
Moneylines section of this MMA hub where we break this down further.

Betting Every Fight

It can be tempting to want to place a bet on every single fight. For most of
us, we think we’re geniuses on everything, and it’s no fun to sit and watch a
fight we don’t have action on. Unfortunately, this is not a winning mentality
and is one of the worst strategies you can have. It’s entirely impossible for
you to be able to do ample research on every fighter for every fight. When you
skimp on research, you’re just guessing, and now you’re gambling instead of
taking calculated risks. The best thing you can do is only bet the fights you
have a strong prediction on and have the time to research. If you think you have
an edge on a pick, go for it.

For those of you that are action nuts, maybe place a small prop wager on the
fights you don’t have time to research just to keep you entertained. That way
you can bet a small amount that won’t affect your bottom line but will still
give you a sweat for a bigger payoff. There are way too many sports bettors that
shoot themselves in the foot by betting too many fights. Don’t be that guy or
gal. Please.

Location, Location, Location

A lot of people neglect to look at where a fight is taking place because they
assume every octagon or ring is the same. Unfortunately, this is not the case
many times. There are two things that you need to be looking at in regards to
location – distance traveled and altitude.

The more important of these two is altitude. If you’ve ever done physical
activity in a higher altitude location, you already know what we’re talking
about. At higher altitudes, there is less oxygen which makes cardio a much more
serious concern. If a fighter is in shape at sea level, they may struggle
several thousand feet in the air (like in Denver or a city like that). To combat
this, some fighters will move their training camps to higher elevations to
prepare and get acclimated. Note that this takes more than a week or two for the
fighters that just bounce out last minute.

The second thing we look at is how far the fighter has to travel for the
fight and how long before the fight they traveled. If a fighter has to be flying
the day before they fight or two days before, you can imagine jet lag might
become an issue. Also, the further they have to travel, the worse the jet lag is
probably going to be. You could also look into the direction of travel and how
it affects jet lag. To save you time, jet lag is worse when you are traveling
east. For example, Coconut Extreme Couture guys are going to have jet lag worse
when flying out to Florida than Coconut Creek American Top Team guys flying from
Florida to Vegas. Again, this is not a huge deal if they travel well before the
fight, but it is something you are going to want to pay attention to in the
cardio category.

Follow SOME of the News

This one is a double-edged sword as following the news can be great and can
be absolutely terrible at times. The important part here is distinguishing
between media hype and actual news that will affect the fighter. Sometimes this
is really easy to do, but sometimes it can be challenging, specifically, the
part about will the news affect the fighter or not. Let’s look at some examples
starting with the easier to distinguish and moving to the more difficult.

  • News Piece One
    • Fighter A is Brazilian. A Brazilian fighter has always won the main fight in
      this certain Arena.
  • News Piece Two
    • Fighter B breaks his finger in training camp.

Obviously, news piece one has no effect on the outcome of the fight. The
problem is that the media is going to hype it up like crazy and people are going
to start betting based on that information. This is not smart. News piece two,
on the other hand, is something that is going to have a real and measurable
effect on the fighter and the outcome of the fight. Let’s look at a more
confusing example.

  • News Piece One
    • Fighter A breaks up with his longtime girlfriend the week before the fight.
  • News Piece Two
    • Fighter B breaks his finger in training camp.

As we know from our first example, news piece two is extremely important and
should be calculated into our betting picks. News piece one, though, is a bit
confusing. This is because, for some fighters, this won’t affect them at all.
They’ll say good riddance and focus on the fight, or it might even motivate them
more to fight harder. Other fighters, though, might crumble and break under the
emotional weight of the situation. Kids could be involved, and it could totally
mess with their head and focus and destroy them in a fight.

Ultimately, you are going to have to decide what news is important and what
news should be disregarded. Being able to do this will help keep you from
getting caught up in the media hype and ignorantly betting with the public. This
leads perfectly into our next tip we’re going to discuss.

Watch the Line Movement

As we just mentioned, the public has a huge tendency to bet with their hearts
or according to news that’s not really news. They love to bet on underdogs, bet
against fighters they hate and bet with what they WANT to happen, not what they
think is GOING to happen. This creates a great opportunity for a smart sports

Remember how we talked about the sportsbook moving the lines to try and get
the same amount on each side? Remember how we said they do this when too many
bets come in on one side? Well, when the public goes nuts betting one side of a
fight incorrectly, the odds on the other side of the fight become a lot sweeter.
Bets that were too close for you to bet suddenly become great bets. Bets that
you were already betting become much more lucrative to put additional money on.

The key is knowing when to bet to maximize your value.

If you see a line that
you absolutely love, bet it right away. Don’t worry about timing and miss out on
what you think is a great bet. If you see a line that you like a decent amount
but think it might move, place a smaller wager at that rate and then if it moves
in your favor bet more. If it doesn’t move at all, you can always place the rest
of the bet at the same odds, or if it moves the other direction, you don’t have
to bet anymore at all.

Predicting if and when lines are going to move can be a bit of an art form.
It’s up to you to start learning what affects the public and what causes them to
bet certain ways and when. Remember, the lines don’t move according to the
entire betting public. They move according to the bets that particular casino or
sportsbook has taken. The sportsbook couldn’t care less what is going on at
other books but only at their location or site. If everyone and their mother is
betting on Fighter A but at a particular sportsbook, they have a ton of fans of
Fighter B that are betting on them, The odds at each place are going to be
completely different. This conveniently leads into our next strategy tip.

Shop Lines

This is without a doubt the most important tip we can give you not just for
MMA but for any type of sports betting you do. Shopping lines can be the
difference between being a profitable sports bettor or just a chump who loses.
Shopping lines refers to the practice of
checking multiple sportsbooks to get
the best odds on a bet
you are going to place. It is extremely common for
different books to have completely different odds on the exact same bet.

Why is this? Well, if you read our above tip, you saw that sportsbooks want
to have the same amount of money bet on each side of a fight to ensure that they
make money no matter who wins. If all of the sportsbooks were owned by the same
company, then the lines would all be the same. But because they are all
independently owned and operate independently, the odds will be different.

Here’s an Example

Imagine you have a Brazillian fighter fighting an American fighter and you
have a sportsbook in each country. As you might imagine, more people in Brazil are going to be betting on the
Brazillian fighter. This means that the sportsbook is going to have to make the
odds on the American fighter pay better to entice more action on that side. The
opposite will probably happen in the American Casino. So if you were going to
bet on the American fighter, you would want to do it in Brazil if possible
because you would get a much better payout.

Now, this is pretty impossible unless you really want to fly all the way to a
different country to place bets. But, with the invention of online sportsbooks,
this becomes possible and only takes a matter of seconds. You can shop several
different lines in the matter of a few seconds and get the best odds for the bet
you want to make. If I offered you the chance to make a $100 bet in one of two
places and one of the places I’d pay you $100 for a win and the other I’d pay
you $120, what would you do? You’d make the bet for $120 potential profit unless
you are insane. This is exactly what shopping lines does.

We recommend joining a few online sportsbooks as they cost nothing additional
to join. Have them all ready to go so that when you go to place a bet, you can
do a quick line shop and then place your bets. Don’t leave money on the table or
miss out on bets that you would have made at a better rate.

Watch Out For the Rockstars

This is an easy one, but one you need to look out for. Betting a lot of
underdogs can be a profitable strategy, but you need to be careful that you
aren’t betting against the “can’t lose” fighters. Fighters like GSP and Anderson
Silva and Ronda Rousey (in their primes) were betting suicide to bet against.
They couldn’t lose, and no matter how sweet the odds were on the other side, it
was a bad bet. The tip here is to identify who these fighters are and stay away
from betting against them or betting for them for that matter since the payout
will be so low. You can usually see who the bigger organizations are starting to
preen and pump up as their poster boys and girls. These fighters should be
avoided with betting like the plague.

Styles of Fighting

Knowledge is profit when it comes to sports betting. This is true for mixed
martial arts as well and starts with the core information. Each fighter is going
to have a different style they specialize in and most likely a few that they
dabble in or are learning. These styles don’t all match up well against other
styles, and it can be a vital piece of information to decide if a bet is smart
or not. For example, a wrestler could be crushing all of their opponents but
maybe hasn’t faced a hard Muay Thai fighter yet. If this is the case, you could
accidentally think they will walk through anyone but might have a lot of
problems dealing with the rugged stand-up.

The important thing here is to know the different styles, know how they match
up against other styles and know what works best for MMA and what doesn’t. If
you haven’t read it yet, we’ve put together a page talking about the more
popular fight styles and how they work or don’t work for MMA. This information
will have you more knowledgeable than 90% of MMA fans and have you on the right
track to being a successful sports bettor.

Study the Fighters

We will say it again because it is true. Knowledge is profit. The more
homework that you do on the fighters and upcoming fights, the better suited you
will be to make great picks and turn a solid profit. The important thing,
though, is that you don’t just look at any information. You need to make sure
that you are studying the correct data and statistics to make better picks. How
you choose to analyze this information and which pieces are more important is up
to you. What we’ve done here is give you a list of things to start looking at
and why they might be of importance. This is not a complete list but should be
plenty to get you in the right direction as there is endless information on
fighters to study.

Prioritize and look at what you think is important and disregard
anything that is not important. You can’t study everything.

  • Take a Look at Who Their Training Partners are.
  • If they are training
    with World Champs and other serious fighters, you can expect them to fight
    better. If they are training with chumps or people you’ve never heard of,
    you might want to be a little more skeptical of their skills. We also like
    to look and see if they’ve brought in specialists in any discipline to help
    out for a specific opponent. You might not recognize a name if they aren’t
    an MMA fighter, but they could be a legend in another discipline (IE: Top
    wrestler, Judoka, etc.).

  • Look at their record, but not just the numbers.
  • Too often, people will
    look at a fighter’s record and immediately use that to decide how they are
    going to do. The problem is that each of their fights is a different beast
    and is usually against a different kind of opponent. Look at their record in
    regards to the type of fight they have coming up. If they are fighting a Jiu
    Jitsu rockstar, look at how they fared against other BJJ fighters.

  • Don’t neglect injuries.
  • Just because a fighter says, they are
    completely healthy and recovered usually does not mean that they actually
    are. Most fighters are almost always fighting with some sort of injury,
    small or large. Follow along on injury news and look up what the actual
    healing time for something is. Fighters are notorious for getting back into
    the gym too quickly and not letting things heal how they should. This can
    have a major impact on their performance and your wallet if you’re betting
    on them.

    If you see a fighter that has back surgery a month later saying
    they’re 100%, not buying it. Some of the levels of this won’t be this
    absurd, but you would be surprised. Just stay on top of the news and rumors
    and try and make an assessment. Looking at how a particular injury would
    affect their style is also important. For example, if a Jiu Jitsu guy hurts
    a finger, it might not affect him as much as it would a striker. But if the
    same Jiu Jitsu guy were to pull or tear a groin muscle, it could be a lot
    more impactful. Again, all of this is up to you to decide how important and
    how impactful it is to your picks.

  • Taking some time to look at the coaching staff is also important.
  • Certain coaches have a lot more success against certain types of fighters as
    well as other coaches. As these coaches are usually in charge of every
    aspect of the fighter’s training, it’s extremely important that you put some
    serious weight behind this. Don’t go overboard, but definitely take a look
    at it.