The Ultimate Fighting Championship has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Over that span, it has become more and more mainstream. The UFC’s transition from fringe following to a hundred-million-dollar industry has also been driven in part by the online sports betting community. In the last few years alone, sports betting on the UFC has become exponentially more popular. While a big portion of that betting audience is just casual fight fans that want to bet on the matchups they are watching, there is also a portion of that audience that includes professional handicappers that make a lot of money betting on the fights. So how do they do such a good job picking winners? Here is a step-by-step breakdown on how to bet on the UFC.
The first and most important aspect of any UFC clash is the fighters. Simply put, the fighters in the Octagon are going to go one-on-one with no outside interference so everything comes down to what they bring to the table. Handicappers will look at everything from the fighter’s weight class, age, reach and stance to their striking offense and defense and their ground game when breaking down what to expect from any given matchup.
— UFC (@ufc) February 27, 2018
Age is important because the older a fighter gets the less likely they are to win based on historical date. Weight is important because depending on the weight class the projected outcomes could vary. Stance and reach are extremely important because they provide a foundation for what to expect in terms of any potential reach advantages.
Once you understand the raw numbers, you can move forward to understanding how they match up against one another with more advanced information including their striking abilities, ground games, wrestling abilities and so on. It’s important to consider all possible outcomes and evaluate their likelihoods when assessing where the smart money will be. Is the fight likely to end via stoppage? Or is it more likely to go the distance? What levels have these fighters competed at in the past and how will their experiences translate in to a potential one-on-one matchup? There is no such thing as having too much information when handicapping a UFC fight.
At the same time, you need to understand which factors are the most important and be able to lean on them when evaluating all possible outcomes.
Assign Win Percentages
There are two sides available when picking the winner of a fight. Either Fighter A can win the bout or Fighter B can win the tilt. In the event of a No Contest the majority of sportsbooks consider it a push and will return your wager money. Since the No Contest result is so rare we won’t recommend worrying too much of it when trying to pick winners. Once you go through all of the available information you should take the time to assign the odds that you think a fighter will win.
— UFC (@ufc) July 7, 2018
For example, when Max Holloway matches up with Dustin Poirer in the main event at UFC 236, what is the likelihood each fighter wins? Holloway is the younger fighter so he gets that category. However, while Holloway is the taller fighter of the two, Poirer has a slight two-inch reach advantage. Holloway has put together 13 straight wins including four straight victories via TKO so we know he has substantial power. Poirer has won via TKO in each of his last two bouts, although the competition level overall might be slightly lesser than what Holloway has faced. After considering all of the key factors, we arrive at the conclusion that Holloway has a 60% chance to win while Poirer has a 40% chance to win.
Now that we have an outline for how we expect the fight will go we can examine the sports betting odds to see if the value is good enough to make it worth betting on.
Determining Betting Values
The next step is to look at the sports betting odds for the fight and determine if it is worth betting on. For the example we used above, we can look ahead to UFC 236 and recognize that Holloway is the favorite at -235 while Poirer is available at +200 odds. Is it worth it to bet on Holloway as the favorite? Or are we better off taking a chance on Poirer to win as the underdog and provide a substantial payout? Based on the fact that we think Holloway has a 60% chance to win, we would put the money down on the favorite to win.
An INSTANT classic.
— UFC (@ufc) July 4, 2018
Shop Around For Best Odds
While we used one example of how our approach to betting on the UFC would look above, it’s important to remember that different sportsbooks will assign different sports betting odds for the same fights. This helps explain why it’s so important to shop around and make sure you are finding the best available odds based on the fighter you want to bet on. Although the odds might be similar across the board, even the smallest differences can add up over the long run. For example, if you can find Holloway at -200 instead of -235, then you can potentially save risking $35 on a wager that would potentially pay out $100 if he went on to win. It might not seem like much at first glance but that money adds up quite a bit over a long period of time. Make sure that you keep in mind the importance of shopping around for the best sports betting lines when you are wagering on UFC bouts.
Track And Review All Wagers
One final tip to keep in mind is the importance of keeping track of all your wagers and reviewing them over time. This is true when it comes to betting on any sport, including the UFC. It’s easy to place a bet and then forget about it if it doesn’t produce a winner. However, it’s much better to keep track of every wager that you make so that you can get a good idea of where you went wrong when you do make a mistake.
An instant classic.
— UFC (@ufc) April 18, 2018
Keep track of every UFC wager that you make regardless of the outcome. By tracking and reviewing your bets, you can get a better understanding of what the data means and it could help you to adjust your approach and do a better job picking winners. It isn’t easy to make a significant amount of money betting on the UFC. However, if you follow the rules that we outlined here then you can really boost your bottom line when it comes to wagering on the UFC.