The growth of fight sports in recent years has been astronomical. While boxing used to take center stage, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the UFC stormed onto the scene over the last decade and has grabbed the spotlight with both hands.
It’s great for those who love a good brawl, as now there’s one on the menu virtually every weekend. And it’s great for those who want to get into UFC betting.
The UFC is the cream of the crop among MMA brands as they attract the biggest and best in the sport. They have more (and better) fighters on their cards and they span the globe, holding events – and massive betting slates – almost every week of the year.
Some of the biggest UFC pay-per-views – like the Khabib Nurmagomedov-Conor McGregor bout at UFC 229 in 2018, or the Conor McGregor-Cowboy Cerrone tilt in 2020 – now rival boxing’s all-time mega events.
The UFC sold for over $4 billion in 2016 and its value has only increased since then. The UFC betting market has grown similarly. If you’ve been a long-time fan of MMA but now want to get into betting on it, here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know.
Best UFC betting sites
There are a number of excellent legal sportsbooks out there for those looking to get in on UFC betting. We’ve done a comprehensive review of all of them and here are the books we give the highest grades to:
Best UFC betting apps
In states where online sports betting is legal, you’ll find sportsbook apps that give you all the current UFC odds on every upcoming fight. You can then bet on the UFC right from the palm of your hand.
Betting via app also means you can place your UFC bets from anywhere as long as you’re within state lines. You don’t need to be physically inside the sportsbook or stand in line at the window.
The best apps are fantastic as you can see all of the lines for upcoming UFC cards, place bets either ahead of time or as the fights are happening (live betting) and withdraw your winnings right away. It’s fast, secure and quite convenient.
Top UFC betting apps we can recommend:
- DraftKings Sportsbook ($25 Free) — Available in NJ, PA, IN, NH and WV
- FanDuel Sportsbook ($500 Risk-Free Bet) — Available in NJ, PA, IN and WV
- BetMGM ($500 Risk-Free Bet) — Available in NJ, WV
Why bet on UFC online
There are a number of options for UFC betting and your method will likely depend on where you are in the country. Some states will have online betting available to you, some will offer retail (land-based casinos) and some will offer both.
The benefit of betting online is the convenience. From the comfort of your own home or wherever you are in state, you can place your bets very quickly and easily.
There can be a great atmosphere for watching UFC pay-per-views at the sportsbook itself but it can be a couple of hours drive to the nearest casino. If you prefer to watch the event closer to home, either at a bar or your own living room, mobile betting makes it easy.
You can also make live bets in seconds as opposed to having to wait in line at the betting window at the sportsbook.
UFC live betting
One of the best ways to bet on the UFC is through live betting. It can be hard to handicap the fight beforehand and figure out how it’ll go, but live betting gives you the chance to bet on the fight as it’s happening and hedge any bets made before..
Oddsmakers will keep a running line on the fight as it progresses. Depending on how each fighter looks and how the rounds have gone, the odds will change accordingly.
You’re free to jump in and place a bet at any point when the odds look appealing.
This is a useful tool in two ways. For one, you can see how the fight is playing out before putting your money down. Or if you’ve already placed your bet and you don’t like how the fight is playing out, you can use live betting to hedge your bets and limit your losses.
Always bet UFC on legal betting sites
Sports betting is completely legal in many states now and there are plenty of great online sportsbooks. They often have more UFC betting lines than the “offshore” sportsbooks, better customer service and the option to manage your betting account entirely from your home.
It’s also important to remember that legal, regulated sportsbooks are all affiliated with a real, licensed casino in your home state and not operating from an offshore server somewhere. That means they must adhere to strict state regulations at all times and you have well established processes and procedures for any type of dispute.
You also have any number of standard deposit and cash out methods at your disposal, including major credit cards, pre-paid cards and cash at the cage.
How do UFC odds work
The simplest UFC bet you can make is picking the fighter you think will win.
When you visit the MMA odds or UFC odds tab in your sportsbook, you’ll see two fighters matched up against each other for each bout.
Click on the fighter you think will win the fight and you’ll see it pop up in your betting slip to the right of the screen. You can enter the amount of money you want to bet on him/her and see exactly how much your bet will pay out.
If your fighter goes on to win the fight, you cash in your bet.
There’s more to it in terms of understanding the odds (we’ll cover that below), but that’s the simplest UFC betting gets.
You can also bet on different aspects of the fight (if it will end via a knockout, submission or decision, etc) but for the most part, the most popular form of betting on UFC is just picking one or the other fighter to win.
How to read UFC odds
When you look at the UFC odds in your sportsbook, you’ll see a couple of different numbers. We’ll break them down for you:
UFC fight odds
When you pull up the odds for a UFC fight, they will look something like this:
- Khabib Nurmagomedov -155
- Conor McGregor +135
The first thing you want to notice here is the symbol in front of the number. In Nurmagomedov’s case, it’s a “-” sign. That means the fighter is the “favorite.”
As for your bet, that means to win $100 you have to bet the amount listed. If you bet $155 on Nurmagomedov and he wins, you’d collect $100 plus have your $155 returned to you.
If there’s a ‘+’ sign, as there is here with McGregor, that means the fighter is the underdog. The actual figure represents the amount of money you’d win if you bet $100. So if you bet $100 on McGregor and he wins, you win $135 plus your original $100 bet back.
Of course, you can bet whatever amount you want (less than or greater than $100) but this shows you what the payout would be if you bet each fighter.
Another way to bet on UFC fights is to bet the over-under. In this case, you’re betting on how long the fight will last. You might see a betting line that looks like this:
- Over 3.5
- Under 3.5
What this means is you have to decide whether this fight will go over – or last longer – than 3.5 rounds. If you think it will be a quick knockout, you’d bet the under. If you’re envisioning that the fight will go the distance, then you’d bet the over.
The 3.5 refers to the rounds, so in this case, the over-under is set at the 2:30 mark of the fourth round since it’s three full rounds and another half.
Bet on UFC props
Another way to bet on UFC fights is through propositional bets, which are known as props for short. This gives you the opportunity to bet on the fight in other ways than simply picking the winner or the loser.
An example of a prop bet could be:
How will the fight end?
- Knockout -110
- Submission +150
- Decision +400
With this prop, if you bet on ‘knockout’, you’d win your bet if either fighter won via knockout. You can also bet a specific fighter to win via a specific method, you can bet on which round the fight will end and you can wager on or if the fight will end in a draw.
UFC betting strategy
If you’re new to handicapping UFC fights, these are a few simple UFC betting tips to help set you off on the right track:
UFC betting trends
You’ll want to take note of the fighter’s momentum going into the bout as that can give you an indication of where they are in their career.
Has the fighter won 10 straight? Has the fighter lost three of their last four?
Drilling down further, you want to see how the fights are ending. If a fighter has won four straight fights, ending their opponent in the first round, that’s a pretty obvious sign of dominance. If a fighter has won four in a row but has won three of the bouts by split decision from the judges, that shows they may not be as strong as their record indicates..
Who did they fight?
Another key factor to examine when you’re looking at the fighter’s history is who they’ve fought. Are they battling the elite guys in the weight class or have they merely beaten a string of cupcakes?
Some fighters can build up a winning streak in smaller MMA outlets but that probably doesn’t mean they’re as dominant had that same winning streak happened in the UFC. The UFC is viewed as the elite MMA organization.
Take note of who the fighters have gone up against and how they’ve fared. That will give you a real indication of their quality.
What is their fighting style?
As the name suggests, it’s mixed martial arts, so there are many different fight styles. You’ll want to study the fighters a little bit to grasp what their strengths and weaknesses are.
For example, a fighter might be great at knockouts but terrible with grappling and wrestling. If he’s fighting someone who is capable of taking them down, their knockout power might not be effective. At the same time, some fighters have excellent takedown defense, which means they can keep the fights standing.
Also take note of the fighter’s history to see how his wins and losses have happened. Are they prone to knockouts or submissions? Do they end a lot of fights early or do all of their bouts go the distance?
Who has the physical advantage?
One of the keys to understanding how the fight will play out is knowing the fighter’s physical traits. For example, you’ll often see the stat Reach displayed on broadcasts because that’s quite important. A fighter with a good reach can keep the other one at bay with their long arms and punches.
Other physical traits to keep an eye on is weight as heavier fighters can have more power but less speed, although that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Also, take note of the age of the fighters as some might be in the twilight of their career in their late 30’s or early 40’s, while the opponent could be a young fighter in their early 20’s.
Biggest payouts in UFC history
In the UFC, it takes as little as one punch to land an upset. That opens the door for a lot of juicy opportunities for underdogs. Let’s take a closer look at five of the biggest underdogs to ever cash:
1. Matt Serra vs Georges St. Pierre
Pre-Fight odds: Serra +850
GSP was defending his welterweight title at UFC 69 when Matt Serra shocked the world with his win. GSP would get revenge in 2008, though, when he knocked out Serra at UFC 83.
2. Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey
Pre-Fight odds: Holm +830
Rousey, the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, hardly ever broke a sweat in her UFC fights before Holm stunned her at UFC 193. Only one of her 12 prior UFC fights had even lasted beyond the first round. In a stunning fall from grace, the undefeated champ lost to Holm, then lost to Amanda Nunes, and never returned to the UFC.
3. Iuri Alcantara vs Frankie Saenz
Pre-Fight odds: Saenz +700
Frankie Saenz hasn’t had much success in the UFC as he’s just 5-4 with the organization. However, he had one shining moment at UFC Fight Night 61 when he upset Alcantara.
4. Renan Barao vs T.J. Dillashaw
Pre-Fight odds: Dillashaw +650
This UFC 173 bout was the one that elevated Dillashaw to champion status. He stunned Barao while earning Performance of the Night, Fight of the Night and Upset of the Year honors.
5. Joey Beltran vs Rolles Gracie Jr.
Pre-Fight odds: Beltran +630
Beltran ended up having a really rough MMA career, finishing just 17-15 overall. He ended his career losing 12 of his last 18 fights but one of those wins was quite significant. He was a massive dog at UFC 109 but stunned Rolles Gracie Jr. with a second-round knockout.
How to stream UFC live for free
There are a few different ways to watch the UFC depending on what type of event is on the calendar. The best events are always on Pay-Per-View, which means you’ll have to purchase that from your cable provider or visit a sports bar.
There are other events that are featured on ESPN and ESPN+, which means you’ll have to have access to those channels as well. You can also watch through the UFC app with UFC Fight Pass.
If you have a sportsbook account you can often watch live sporting events free via the app or online sportsbook. Check with your local sportsbook to see if that applies to UFC cards.
What is UFC futures betting?
The futures betting market focuses on betting fights that are further down the road (weeks or months away) versus betting on the fights that are happening this week.
How to bet the UFC underdog?
The underdog is the fighter whose odds have the ‘+’ sign in front of them. Select that fighter in your sportsbook and place your bet on them to bet the underdog.
How much do UFC fighters make?
The average UFC fighter makes about $138,250. However, the stars of the sports can make millions through fights and endorsements.
How much revenue does the UFC make?
The UFC made over $700 million in revenue in 2017 and profits continue to rise as the sport grows.
Which UFC champion has the longest reign?
Anderson Silva has the longest reign as a champion. He was the Middleweight Champion for 2,457 days. His six-year run came to an end when he lost to Chris Weidman at UFC 162.
What does UFC stand for?
UFC stands for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
What is the Octagon?
The Octagon is the fighting cage where every UFC fight takes place.
How many UFC weight classes are there?
In total, there are nine weight classes. They are:
- Light Heavyweight
How long is a UFC fight?
Championship fights are five five-minute rounds, so 25 minutes in total. Non-championship fights last three rounds or 15 minutes.
What are the ways a UFC fight can end?
A UFC fight can end via:
- Judge’s decision
Who is Dana White?
White is often viewed as the face of the UFC. He’s the current president of the UFC.
Who currently owns the UFC?
The UFC is currently owned by William Morris Endeavor.
Who are the founders of the UFC?
The founders of the UFC are Art Davie, Bob Meyrowitz, Campbell McLaren, David Isaacs, John Milius and Rorion Gracie, but the sport has come a long way from its original days in 1993. It used to be the home for brutal, bloody bouts and while it still maintains the viciousness that fans love, there are far more rules and regulations to keep the fighters safe and allow the sport to be far more marketable.