MMA Betting Odds: How Betting Odds Work MMA
If you’re new to the thrilling sport of MMA, or at least to MMA betting, the first skill you need to master is how betting odds work in MMA.On this page, we’ll explore the different methods to bet on MMA, including how fight odds are calculated and how sportsbooks present various betting options.
While it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of lines offered at different sportsbooks, by conducting even just a little bit of research, you can gain an edge and increase your chances of winning or even turning a profit. This way, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of precisely how betting odds work in MMA.
Mixed Martial Arts/MMA has been one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, with some of the best fighters competing for the likes of the UFC, Bellator, ONE FC, Invicta, Cage Warriors and beyond. Along with the sport’s exponential growth has been the interest in MMA betting, with bettors looking to add even more excitement to MMA fights by wagering on potential outcomes during an event.
When it comes to looking at the odds and how a sportsbook can present them, it’s worth noting that there are three main styles of odds that are traditionally used in practice.
American Odds Example
The American style of odds is also known as Moneyline odds, and this presentation style will give you a clear indication of who is the favourite and who is the underdog for an upcoming bout.
The UFC site tends to use Moneyline odds as standard. For example, the favourite will likely appear with a + followed by a number and the underdog will be listed with a – followed by a number.
To illustrate this, the matchup between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 listed Adesanya as the favourite at -155 and Pereira as the underdog at +135, despite Pereira being the champion and already having defeated ‘The Last Stylebender’ once in the octagon and twice during their competitive kickboxing careers.
When you watch the UFC events live, the current odds for a fighter will be displayed at the bottom of the screen during their introduction inside the cage. Sometimes these can be different than the odds that were listed prior to their appearance for their entrance, as a fighter showing up in front of a sold-out crowd limping gives a very different impression than one who looks ready to go. What you have to consider in times like that is whether or not a fighter is trying to play mind games.
Decimal Odds Example
The Decimal Odds style, also known as the European odds, is one of the easiest ways to determine how much you could potentially win on a wager.
In essence, decimal odds are shown as a single number, indicating the amount a winning bet could collect based on a $1 wager. For example, you just need to multiply the stake by the decimal number the bookie provides to see what sort of return you could win. Therefore, a $10 bet at odds of 2.12 would return you $21.2, so it’s worth looking at the numbers to determine whether the outcome/winnings for you as a bettor is worth the value.
The Decimal Odds format is most commonly used in Canada, so it’s worth bearing that in mind if you’re going to be betting on any combat sports with a bookmaker in the country, including combat sports beyond MMA like Boxing.
Fractional Odds Example
Fractional odds, also known as the British odds, show the ratio between the amount staked by the bookmakers and the bettor.
For example, a line of 6/1 means the bookmaker’s stake is six times the amount the bettor has wagered. So if you win, you’d be making six times the stake amount.
It can be a little daunting to figure out what your returns might be with this system, and a decent amount of understanding certainly goes a long way when it comes to placing bets with sites and oddsmakers that decide to use the Fractional Odds format.
An example of this would be the odds that SkyBet offered in March 2023 for the Adesanya vs Pereira fight at UFC 287, where they had the following listed in terms of outright winner:
- Alex Pereira – 11/10
- Israel Adesanya – 8/11
When Fractional odds have the first number being lower than the second, that means that the outcome is favoured to be pretty likely. Here we can see that SkyBet is listing Adesanya as the favourite in the bout, again along the same lines as the official UFC site has listed at a slight margin of around -155. If you were to put a $1 bet on Adesanya winning, your potential return would be $1.73, whereas if you put the same bet on Pereira winning, you would be looking at a potential return of around $2.10.
Like in other sports, bookmakers set the odds for fights on a case-by-case basis, using a wide variety of data on the competitors for a specific contest. Traders will look at the numbers that are presented and then decide their strategy when it comes to offering odds on the method of victory, be that by knockout, submission, decision or even on a round-by-round basis.
What Is The Relationship Between Betting Odds and Bookmakers’ Margins?
When it comes to betting odds and bookmakers having to make money, there is something that they have to consider when deciding the odds for results, tips and how the course of a bout goes (i.e. the winner), their own margin for profitability.
Essentially, betting companies will offer odds that are overall lower than the genuine likelihood of an event, result or chance of something happening.
If the betting companies did not do this, then they would not make money on sports picks and would essentially have no business or chance of profitability, so there is a good reason for it.
The best way to look at the margin of the actual probability of an outcome and how much the bookmaker is offering is their ‘commission,’ so the amount they will have to take to continue running at a profit. That’s just how bookies work!
How Do Odds Affect Betting Behaviour?
When it comes to odds and how they affect betting behaviour, it all depends on the individual scenario in which the odds have been listed. Before MMA, and UFC specifically, became the huge sport it is now, several bookmakers would list the incorrect fighters as being underdogs on certain cards and events. This would give fans who knew what they were doing the chance to put their wagers on someone who was most likely to get a win in any particular match.
The betting lines for MMA and UFC now are far more stringent and will, nine times out of ten, place the right fighters in the correct chances of winning but also add a little extra margin for potential profit on the bookmaker’s side.
When it comes to finding the most ‘reliable’ odds, your best bet, when it comes to the UFC specifically, is to check the official UFC site itself.
While the odds that the site will list on any certain article aren’t always 100% reliable, you can at least know that the odds being shown by the company itself shouldn’t be subject to any sort of bias or attempt to make money from a betting perspective.
There used to be a lot more discrepancy when it came to betting odds being supplied by the official MMA companies and the ones that betting sites would often give, but these have completely changed over the past few years, and the betting sites tend to err on the side of caution and have odds relatively similar to those being shown by the MMA companies themselves.
The best way to look at odds being offered by actual MMA companies on fights is by classing them as ‘independent,’ because they should not be looking to sway or affect betting markets.
Individual betting companies will set their own odds for MMA events based on the information they have from datasets of the fighters in question. Although companies like the UFC will offer Moneyline odds on a fight, it is down to the individual bookmakers to decide their own bets they will be offering for a particular fight.
Certain things tend to be considered when setting the odds for special odds bets, with some notable being:
- Have Fighter A and Fighter B competed in the past?
- How many times has X fighter won in total? How did they get those wins?
- What is the difference between Fighter A and Fighter B regarding their standings in the overall rankings?
- Could this fight go to a draw?
- Has there been any news regarding injuries ahead of the bout? Have either of the fighters or their teams commented on it?
- Where is the fight taking place? Has Fighter A had more success in the USA because they’re native, or have they found more success abroad?
When you take everything into account, it is certainly not easy to determine what the odds should be for certain MMA fights, especially when considering bets and anything outside of the outright winner. Be mindful of that when you’re looking at what lines you’re considering placing a stake on.
Expert's Conclusion on MMA Betting Odds
MMA Betting Expert
It goes without saying that to make winning bets on this fast-growing sport, you need to have a clear comprehension of how betting odds work in MMA. Remember that bookmakers set odds based on thorough data analysis, with margins built-in to ensure profitability. So, it’s crucial to do the right research and find reliable sources to help you make informed decisions.
With our versatile handbook on how betting odds work in MMA, you can accurately analyze the data and venture into the pulse-pounding world of MMA betting with confidence.
Concerning the ever-growing success of MMA and betting in the space, fans still have questions about certain areas, and we hope to help you with a quick FAQ guide. While this list of questions isn’t exhaustive, it is some of the more commonly requested by bettors online right now in 2023:
A +200 for betting would indicate that the bookmaker is offering Moneyline odds on a particular outcome. Any fighter or outcome with a plus in front of the number indicates that the fighter or outcome is the underdog in that scenario, which is a sign that you should take a number of factors into account before putting a bet on the outcome taking place.
Odds that refer to numbers such as ‘Over 1.5’ etc indicate that the payout of a bet will be based on whether or not a certain outcome takes place during a specific timeframe. Examples of this would be seen with ‘Over 1.5,’ as that indicates that the bookie is offering a type of bet on whether or not a fight would be going over 1.5 rounds or not. You’d find a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ option next to this, meaning you would have to predict whether or not the fight will go over 1.5 rounds. Conversely, if you think the fight might go under the rounds listed, especially if you think a fighter can beat their opponent quickly, you would select ‘No.’
Much like the aforementioned ‘Over 1.5’ betting, a bet option of ‘Over 2.5’ will indicate a bet of whether or not the fight in question will go over 2.5 rounds. If you believe that a bout is going to go the distance, then you would select ‘Yes’ here, as the fight would go over at least 2.5 rounds, as every fight on a UFC card will be at least three rounds or five rounds for a Championship fight or main event. Again, if you think that the fight might go under the rounds listed, especially if you think a fighter can beat their opponent quickly, then you would select ‘No.’
If you see odds of -200 on a particular outcome, then that means that the outcome is likely to take place according to the predictions made by the oddsmaker. Although it’s not a rule of thumb, it’s worth checking around to see if the oddsmakers aren’t trying to game the system, which you usually won’t see anymore, but it was certainly something that took place in some prior years of MMA betting.
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In recent years, Canadians have shown a strong preference for MMA and especially the UFC. Our goal with our expert guides is to educate our readers on the most important, as well as the less significant but frequently asked, questions about MMA and the UFC.
Jake is an SEO-minded Combat Sports, Gaming and Pro Wrestling writer and successful Editor in Chief. He has more than ten years of experience covering mixed martial arts, pro wrestling and gaming across a number of publications.
Facts checked by Jake Skudder