One of the biggest draws of UFC worldwide has been the betting action and with legal online sports betting coming to many states across America the action has never been bigger. UFC has fully embraced the trend, showing live betting odds for all fighters during their broadcasts, and virtually every sportsbook lets you bet on every fight right up until the closing bell.
UFC betting has already been legalized in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Nevada. Many other states are in the process of legalizing sports betting after the Supreme Court ruled to allow states to set their own betting laws. With millions of UFC diehards coming online, online sportsbooks have quickly grown into a multi-billion-dollar business and any adult over 21 in states where betting has been legalized can get a piece of it.
UFC betting odds can be confusing at first and sportsbook terms can sound foreign but there’s only a few basics you have to master before you can get started. Here is a quick primer on how to read UFC odds, how to bet on the UFC, and the different types of bets you can place.
How Do UFC Fights Work?
Since UFC is still a newer organization with frequently-changing rules, it’s important to get the basics down first.
First, each fight is three 5-minute rounds, unless it is a main event or championship fight, in which case it is a five-round bout. A fighter can win by knockout or technical knockout, which is when the referee stops the fight, or by submission, when the opponent taps out or gives up. If the fight is not stopped due to knockout or submission, judges will score the fight with the winner of each round getting 10 points and the loser of each round getting 9 points or fewer. Occasionally there is a draw or no contest, but these are relatively rare.
UFC cards can also be exceptionally long. While most people watch three hours of fighting on pay-per-view or ESPN, each card usually features at least 8 to 11 fights and can go on for many hours starting in the afternoon. That means that you have to get your bets in early if you want to wager on the early card. UFC events typically take place every week or two on Saturdays.
UFC Betting Odds
While other sports have a lot of moving parts, UFC betting is very straight forward.
Each bet is placed on the moneyline, which determines the ratio between your bet and the final payout. Moneylines will usually be displayed next to fighters’ names during the UFC broadcast and indicate how likely that fighter is to win. So if Conor McGregor is a -370 favorite, you would have to bet $370 to win $100. But if Jon Jones is a +220 underdog, your $100 bet would net you $220.
Unlike other sports, the heavy underdogs in UFC fights have very legitimate chances of winning and often do. It’s important to research fighters you may not be familiar with, it’s quite possible that they are new to the UFC but were absolutely dominant in another organization.
Some sportsbooks will also let you bet on the “over/under.” Whereas other sports allow you to bet on whether the final score will be “over” or “under” the total projected by each sportsbook, UFC over/unders allow you to bet on how many rounds a fight will last. Typically the over/under for a three-round fight is around 1.5 rounds. That means the fight would have to go 2 rounds or longer for the over to win and under one round for the under to win. Five-round fights will typically have an over/under of 2.5 rounds.
Each outcome will have its own moneyline attached. So if you have a matchup of big hitters that is not likely to go deep, the under may be -140 while the over is +130. That means you would have to bet $140 to win $100 on the under bet while your $100 bet on the over would net you $130.
UFC Betting Tips
Team sports have longterm trends and data you can research to make an educated betting pick and many UFC fighters have long track records you can look at to see how they fare in certain situations. For the most part, many fighters in the UFC are facing very different opponents who come from very different backgrounds, so it’s important to research individual fighters, especially if you are unfamiliar with them. Do not just assume that the longtime UFC crowd favorite is a lock over an unknown Croatian kickboxer just because you haven’t heard of them.
Many sports sites like ESPN now offer in-depth stats and analytics on fighters. Stats and trends are a great way to size up a matchup even if you haven’t seen the individual fighters before. It is best to utilize this data and start slow, placing a bet on just one or two fights on a card that you are familiar with, rather than placing a wager on all 11 fights that day. Once you master UFC betting, you can bet on the entire card and even start dabbling in other organizations like Bellator.