Recommended Bookies for UFC & MMA 2021
Few sports in modern times have had a meteoric rise in popularity like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). The combat sport, which sees fighters clash using different martial arts styles, was pretty much unknown when it was created back in the 1990s. Today, mostly thanks to its most famous brand UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), it is a worldwide phenomenon. The following bookmakers are noted for their MMA & UFC betting:
Best UFC & MMA Sites for Odds
UFC/MMA odds will vary across betting sites. As there are only two main betting variables when betting on the winner of a fight/money line (win or lose), it follows that a shorter price on the favourite will lead to a bigger price on the outsider. The table below shows the odds range for three different bookmakers on the Daniel Comier v Volkan Oezdemir bout at UFC 220, as an example:
|Bookmaker||Odds For Daniel Comier To Win:||Odds For Volkan Oezdemir To Win:|
From this example, you can see that wagering on the favourite (Comier) would be more lucrative with Betway Sport. If you fancy Oezdemir to win however, Grosvenor Sports would be the way to go. Betfair operates in the middle-ground for this event.
Best Sites for UFC Promos and Betting Bonus
The online betting industry is competitive, so it is only natural that you should search for the best UFC betting promos offered by top bookmakers. One-off promotions may be offered for the bigger UFC events, but the following table shows the best general bookmakers for bonus offers and promotions that can be used for MMA Betting.
|Bookmaker||Typical Promotion||Common Welcome Offer|
|Betfair||Up to 50% bonus payout on your first Acca of the week||£100 worth of Free Bets.|
|Sky Bet||Price Boosts||£20 Free Bet when they stake £5.|
|Betway||Free Bet Club||Up to £30 Free Bet matched 100% on your first deposit.|
UFC Wagering Tips
There are many factors to consider when betting on UFC. Just like horse racing, or any other competitive sport, the first thing you should consider is the fighter’s history/form. Have they a winning record? What happened in their last fight? Have the fighters fought before? If so, who won?
Remember, MMA fighters employ several different styles. Some are submission specialists – fighters who do not win by knockout, yet who can force their opponent to submit by employing techniques like the kimura or kneebar. Others are knockout specialists, who may employ more direct tactics, i.e. knocking their opponent out or beating them to such an extent that the referee stops the match.
The question you must consider when making a selection then, is how does your fighter’s record match up against a different style of fighting? A good example of this is Brock Lesnar v Frank Mir at UFC 81. Lesnar is perhaps the best ‘pure’ fighter in the world. A man of freak strength and fighting ability. Mir, by contrast, is a submission specialist. Lesnar pummelled Mir throughout the match, leaving his opponent with a bloodied face. Despite not landing any blows on Lesnar however, Mir was able to catch him in a kneebar, forcing him to submit. The point is that raw strength and the ‘tale of the tape’ do not count as much in UFC than they do in boxing. As a consequence, you should check if the history of your fighter shows they can cope with submission specialists and vice versa.
You should also be looking at the training or preparation of your UFC betting selection. Has your fighter been thrown on to the card as a replacement at the last minute? Have they enough time to study their opponent’s style? At UFC 189, Chad Mendes filled in for Jose Aldo in a fight against Conor McGregor. Despite going well for the first round, Mendes seemed to run out of steam in the second and promptly lost the bout. Would he have endured longer with more time to train? On the other hand, Michael Bisping demolished Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 after filling in with just 17 days’ notice. It was one of the biggest shocks of all time and goes to show anything can happen in the Octagon.
If you don’t want to do all the research yourself, then check with the experts. Sites like mmamania.com or Bleacher Report will normally break down a card, give predictions and point you towards solid MMA betting advice. Once you have made your selection, you can use sites like Oddschecker.com – who also provide links to tips – to see which bookmaker is providing the best odds for your bet. Bookmakers will always vary in their evaluation of a fight, so this is can give you a significant increase to your potential profit.
UFC Betting Markets
There are several different possible betting markets for a UFC fight. The number of markets offered often depends on how high-profile the bout is. A large number of UK bookmakers, for example, Bet365, Sky Bet and Coral Sports, currently only offer odds for winner/money lines.
UFC & MMA Betting Lines
The table below shows the different types of lines/betting markets typically offered on a UFC/MMA bout:
|Outright Winner/ Money Line||A bet on the winner of the fight (regardless of method).|
|Total Rounds Betting||A bet on whether the number of rounds will be over or under a specific number.|
|Round Betting*||A bet on the specific round in which the fight will end.|
|Fight Outcome/ Method of Victory*||A bet on how the fight will finish: KO, submission, disqualification.|
|Fight to go Distance||Will the fight last until the end, i.e. be decided by judges’ decision.|
|Accumulators/Parlay Betting||A single bet on several outcomes. For example, picking three fighters on a card to win by KO. The odds are ‘accumulated’ (multiplied), but all selections must be correct to win.|
*these bets can be for a specific fighter or for the bout in general. For example, you could bet on Conor McGregor to win in Round 3, or for the fight to simply end in Round 3 regardless of who wins.
In general, Betway, Betfair and Paddy Power will offer all these markets for most MMA/UFC fights. Other bookmakers, such as Bet Stars and Sky Bet, may only offer a market for the winner/money line. As a general rule of thumb, the more prestigious the fight the more markets will be available. UFC ‘Supercards’, those that contain multiple high-profile fights, or huge main events like the Brock Lesnar v Frank Mir rematch, are more likely to have special betting markets.
UFC & MMA Live Streaming
Given licensing restrictions and that the fights, especially the high-profile matches, are often PPV (Pay Per View), it is very rare that a sports betting site can offer free UFC/MMA. However, many sites offer live betting on UFC/MMA fights.
Live betting on UFC & MMA
As with all sports, the popularity of betting live on UFC/MMA is growing. All the bookmakers mentioned above offer live betting on UFC/MMA. Betfair are particularly noted for their live in-play betting however, as they sometimes offer special boosted prices for in-play bettors during the bigger fights.
Unfortunately, you will find little or no live streaming on UFC from bookmakers.
A Guide to MMA Fighting Styles
As mentioned earlier, MMA fighters use a variety of fighting styles and techniques. These can vary from fighter to fighter, but some can use a combination of styles. For a solid MMA betting strategy, it is important that you recognise these fighting techniques and how two fighters with different styles measure up against each other. Below is a short explanation of the main fighting styles used in MMA:
The History of MMA and UFC
Martial arts have, of course, been around for centuries. However, the idea of having an ‘ultimate fighting championship’ came about in the early 1990s. In its early conception, it was designed to gauge which martial art styles were the ‘best’ by having exponents of different disciplines fight each other.
MMA grew modestly in popularity but came up against several problems, including the fact that it had been made illegal in dozens of states. The current UFC President Dana White implemented rule changes, which were designed to protect fighters and appease television networks.
Today UFC is multi-billion pound industry, hugely popular in the UK, USA and all over the world.
A UFC match will usually last a maximum of three or five rounds, five minutes each. The number of rounds will depend on the importance of the fight. For example, a UFC title match will be five rounds and a match of less importance on the card will be given three rounds. However, several non-title fights have been given five rounds in the past, due to the high-profile status of the fighters involved.
Fight Rules/Illegal Moves:
UFC operates under the United Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, which regulates everything from ring attire to weight categories. It also sets out numerous illegal moves (fouls). If a fighter commits any of the following acts, the fighter can be deducted a point, or the referee can stop the match (disqualifying the fighter): eye-gouging, head-butting, head-kicking (when opponent is on the ground), clawing, spine strikes, hair pulling, striking the groin and biting. There are many more in a similar vein.
How to Win a UFC Fight
There are several ways to win or lose a UFC fight:
- Knockout: a fighter has been rendered unconscious by a legal strike form his/her opponent and is unable to continue.
- Technical Knockout: an opponent is deemed unable to continue by the referee.
- Submission: forcing an opponent to submit using a variety of techniques. Submission is shown by tapping the ground to signal to the referee that they cannot continue.
- Disqualification: a fighter can be disqualified for using the illegal moves mentioned above or if his/her actions gravely endanger an opponent. The decision is at the referee’s discretion.
- Forfeit: a fighter may forfeit a fight if they do not compete.
- Corner Stoppage: the fighter’s team deem he/she cannot continue. Like ‘throwing in the towel’ in boxing.
- Judges’ Decision: as it sounds. If the fight lasts until the end (three or five rounds), the decision rests with three judges who have been scoring the rounds (out of ten) throughout. It is not always clear who has been the victor, so two of the three judges’ need to concur. In this way, draws are also possible in UFC.
- No Contest: several causes such as an unintentional illegal move or a failed drug test post win.
Weight Classes in MMA/UFC
Like boxing, UFC fighters are split across different weight classes. Each weight will have a different championship. These are:
- Strawweight* – maximum of 115lbs. No lower limit.
- Featherweight – 125-135lbs.
- Bantamweight – 135-145lbs.
- Lightweight – 145-155lbs.
- Welterweight** – 155-170lbs.
- Middleweight** – 170-185lbs.
- Light Heavyweight** – 185-205lbs.
- Heavyweight** – 205-265lbs.
*currently only women compete in this weight division.
**currently only men compete in these weight divisions.
UFC Betting Rules
- The most important thing to remember when betting in UFC is that bets will be settled on the outcome immediately after the fight. Therefore, decisions that are reversed in future, sometimes months later, due to circumstances like failed drug tests will not be reversed by bookmakers.
- If a fighter is disqualified, his/her opponent will be deemed as the winner by UFC/MMA betting sites.
- If there is a replacement fighter in your fight selection, the bet will be made void and your stake returned.
- If a fight is postponed and moved to a different date, the bet may be void or simply valid for the rearranged date. This is at the discretion of the bookmaker and usually depends on how long the fight has been postponed.
Other Forms of MMA
UFC is often seen as interchangeable with MMA, but it is simply its most recognised brand. Other popular MMA brands include Bellator, ONE Championship, Glory (professional kick-boxing) and Invicta FC.
Bellator, formed in 2009, is arguably the most recognised brand after UFC. The main difference between Bellator and UFC is that the former regularly uses a tournament format to decide champions. You can find Bellator betting odds on sites like Sky Bet, Paddy Power and Betfair sports book.
Invicta FC is an all-female MMA promotion. As it is, to an extent, overshadowed by the women’s divisions in UFC, it can be difficult to find betting markets with UK bookmakers. The same applies to One Championship, which is an MMA promotion based in Singapore. Betway will often offer odds on Glory.
Comparing UFC to Boxing
As mentioned, it is inevitable that comparisons are drawn between UFC and boxing. Indeed, the two sports ‘converged’ in 2017 when Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather Jnr in a much-anticipated boxing match. Rumours abound that Mayweather will soon ‘return the favour’ and compete against McGregor in an MMA match.
The general consensus is that UFC/MMA is a sport in the ascendency, whereas boxing is in a state of decline. Although it is somewhat difficult to measure the true popularity of boxing and a clutch of new stars could always change the sport’s fortunes, it is undeniable how much UFC has grown in recent years. Fighters now command multi-million pound contracts, with events beamed live to millions of viewers around the world.
There is a perceived malaise in boxing at the moment, with many citing a lack of true ‘stars’. UFC has no such problems, with many like McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg transcending their sport. It must also be pointed out that UFC has arguably done more to elevate its female competitors than any other sport, giving an extra dimension to be marketed to its fans.
Bottom Line on UFC and MMA
The rise of UFC has been nothing short of a phenomenon. Therefore, the majority of UK bookmakers will look to entice punters into betting with them. There is, of course, plenty of difference between the odds and markets offered by different betting sites. In that respect, you should always shop around to find the right type of bet and to see if you can find the best MMA odds online.
In terms of your selection, there are many ways that you can improve your UFC wagering strategy by researching all aspects of the bout. However, the nature of MMA is that shocks can happen, so betting on the underdog is also a viable option.
It is only natural that the UFC gets the most scrutiny. As a consequence, the odds offered on UFC matches will be the ‘truest’. As other MMA promotions are not as well known, it only follows that the bookmakers will be less assured when giving odds. This is an opportunity for punters who do their research properly. Think of it like backing a good, yet unknown, horse in a low-key race.
It will be interesting to see how far MMA/UFC can go in the coming years. As it develops, so to will the betting markets and opportunities. Exciting for both punters and MMA enthusiasts alike.