So you want to bet on MMA? If you are reading this, then you are off to a good start! Wagering in mixed martial arts fights has been a full-time hobby for many people.

This guide will cover everything from the reasons to bet on MMA to budgeting your bankroll properly. We hope our wagering guide gives new MMA bettors guidance in their future betting endeavors. In addition, we hope that it serves as an interesting, fresh viewpoint for those experienced MMA bettors. Without further ado, here is our MMA wagering guide.

Why Bet on MMA?

It is best to bet on mixed martial arts for 3 reasons. First and foremost, to make money. You will get this response from any honest sports bettor. Whether you are looking to make hundreds of dollars per month or just enough to cover rising pay-per-view prices, betting on MMA is a hobby that can be very lucrative.

Secondly, to become a better MMA fan. Betting on MMA forces you to know everything about MMA: promotions, fighters, martial arts disciplines, etc. In your wagering process, you will learn fighters’ strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and capabilities.

You will know who the best up-and-comers are. You will know the fighters who are past their prime. You will know which fighters cannot defend a takedown properly, as well as the fighters who don’t check leg kicks. MMA wagering forces you to pay attention to detail and retain information.

Lastly, betting on MMA makes mixed martial arts more exciting. Having money on a certain fighter will give you added excitement for that particular event and fight. Like anything else, it will matter more if you have a financial or emotional investment in something.

Betting on MMA has given many something to look forward to every month. Investing your own money in MMA makes you care about it more — plain and simple. If we have convinced you to try MMA betting, let’s start at the beginning.

Reading and Converting MMA Lines

MMA lines are the basis of MMA wagering. Most sports books use American odds, sometimes called a “money line.” These arbitrary numbers look like a foreign language to those unfamiliar with sports betting, but allow me to explain them to you.

Generally, an MMA fight “line” will look like this:

  • Brock Lesnar -225
  • Frank Mir +185

In most MMA fights, there will be a favorite and an underdog. Two fighters can be evenly matched in sportsbooks, but it is rare. The favorite will have a negative (-) number, while the underdog will have a positive (+) number. In this case, Brock Lesnar is the favorite and Frank Mir is the underdog. Now onto the numbers.

MMA money lines are based on units of $100. If the favorite is -225, it means that you have to wager $225 to win $100. In this case, if you bet $225 on Brock Lesnar and he wins, you will win $100 to give you $325 total. The exact ratio goes for any wager.

When you are betting on an underdog, the formula is different. If the underdog is at +185, it means that if you wager $100, you will win $185. For example, if you bet $100 on Frank Mir and he is victorious, you will win $185 in addition to the original $100 bet. Like a favorite bet, the same ratio goes for any wager amount. You don’t have to bet increments of $100; you can wager whatever amount you feel comfortable with.

Converting a Money Line

Converting a money line is the process of changing a line (-225) into a percentage (69%). Converting money lines into percentages is a great way to simplify complicated odds. Using the Lesnar/Mir example, converting their lines will give you the following:

  • Brock Lesnar 69%
  • Frank Mir 35%

These percentages will give you a much better view of what the odds are saying. This line says that Brock Lesnar wins this fight 69% of the time, while Mir is victorious 35% of the time. The odds will never add up to 100% because the difference is the Sportsbook’s commission.

The Formula for Converting a Money Line into Percent

Converting a money line into a percent is as easy as two formulas. If you want to convert a favorite’s money line into a percent, use this formula:

  • (Money line/ (1 + money line)

If you are converting Brock Lesnar’s current odds, the formula will look like this:

  • (2.25/3.25) = 0.692307

Feel free to round the number off (69%) for ease of use.

The formula is slightly different if you are converting an underdog’s line to a percent. This is the formula to use for underdog conversion:

  • (1/1 + money line)

If you are converting Frank Mir’s current odds, the formula will look like this:

  • (1/2.85) = 0.350877

Once again, we suggest rounding the % (35%) for convenience.

Now that you can read and convert MMA money lines, there are two other things to keep in mind. Occasionally, there are fights in which both fighters have favorite (-) lines. For example, a current line on Bookmaker lists Mike Brown at -105 and Urijah Faber at -125 for their clash.

In this case, the fighter with the larger number is still the favorite, but both fighters have over a 50% chance of winning the fight.

Additionally, MMA money lines are not set in stone. These odds will shift as bettors place bets. Sportsbooks want the lines to be as accurate as possible, so they will change them accordingly if a good amount of money is coming in on a certain fighter. This is why staying on top of current betting lines and odds is essential.

Congratulations, you know everything you need to know about MMA money lines. The next step of the betting process is the most interesting and tedious part of your journey: research.

Researching Fighters

Like any purchase, you have to research to be sure you are making a wise investment. You would never buy a car without test driving it first. You would never buy a pair of jeans without trying them on. This same logic goes for MMA betting.

Doing proper research is what allows you to be a successful MMA bettor. Bettors who don’t do research are generally unsuccessful. If they are successful, it is by sheer luck. MMA betting is all about finding an edge and capitalizing on it. These opportunities are found through thorough research.

There are several ways to research a fighter. The first step is to check out the fighter’s record; this information is the basis of a certain mixed martial artist’s abilities. You can generally tell by a fighter’s record their strengths or weaknesses. For example, Wanderlei Silva’s record was 32-9-1. In his 32 victories, 23 have come by KO or TKO, 3 have come by submission, and 6 have come by decision. This simple information tells you he is a striking threat, even if you didn’t know who Wanderlei Silva was.

Conversely, his losses (5 KO, 4 DEC) would tell you 2 things: he can be knocked out and difficult to submit. Of course, a fighter’s win-loss record isn’t going to give you the complete picture, but it is a good start.

In addition to a fighter’s profile, you want to know the competition that he has faced. Someone like Wanderlei Silva has faced some of the best mixed martial artists in his weight class in Pride FC and the UFC. Because of this, his losses mean less than they would for someone else.

If a fighter is just breaking into the UFC or another major MMA promotion, his record will likely be filled with fights against less experienced, less well-rounded fighters. Wanderlei Silva’s 32-9-1 is much different than a newcomer’s 9-1-0 record.

It would be best if you also were very assertive in watching a fighter’s past fights and keeping up on any breaking news about a fighter. You can learn a lot about watching a fighter’s past fights. There are several terrific fight video resources on the Internet: YouTube is a favorite.

If you watched Brock Lesnar’s fight against Frank Mir, you would see much more than just the loss on his record. Lesnar dominated that fight until Mir caught him in a kneebar. This could make you think differently of that particular loss.

Keeping a finger on the MMA world’s pulse is a smart move for any MMA bettor. MMA blogs provide the latest information on fighters, promotions, events, and fighter training camps. You can never have too much information about a fighter, and reading MMA blogs, in addition to watching past fights, will give you an excellent profile of a certain fighter. Having a thorough profile of 2 fighters will help you set an accurate line for a fight.

Setting Your Line

Setting your line for a fight is the ultimate goal for all of your research. After crunching all of the numbers, watching all of the videos, and running all of the possible scenarios through your head, the end product is going to be a line set by you, the bettor. There are several ways bettors set lines for a fight, but we strongly suggest setting your line the following way.

Simply ask yourself this question: if fighters 1 and 2 were to fight 20 times, how many times would fighter 1 win? If your research tells you that fighter 1 wins the fight 12 times out of 20, then a simple calculation of 12/20 gives you 60%.

Compare your set line percentage to several sportsbooks’ line percentages to find a possible edge. For example, if you think Brock Lesnar beats Frank Mir 15 times out of 20 (85%) and sports books give Lesnar a line of -225 (69%), there is a significant edge.

The same logic goes for underdogs. If you think Frank Mir’s high-level submissions will be too difficult for Lesnar to defend, and you have Mir winning this fight 10 times out of 20 (50%), you are getting good value on a +185 (35%) line.

Successful MMA betting is all about taking advantage of small edges. However, believing one line favors you doesn’t mean you should jump on it immediately. It would be best if you shopped around for the best line first.

Line Shopping

The importance of line shopping cannot be overstated. Line shopping can differentiate between a good MMA bettor and a great MMA bettor. Line shopping is following different sportsbooks and identifying the most beneficial line.

It would be best to shop for the best price and value before committing like any other purchase. This strategy is essential for long-term, successful MMA wagering.

Keeping track of the best available lines for each fighter is one of the best pieces of advice we can give to an MMA wagering beginner. We would also suggest having available funds on at least 3 different sportsbooks.

The last thing you want to happen is to get an excellent edge in a fight only to get the worst odds because you have all your money on one Sportsbook. Since most sportsbooks have fairly reasonable minimum deposits, it is wise to “diversify your portfolio,” so to speak.

Record Keeping

Record keeping is the best way to keep track of not only your current available funds but also your betting patterns. We strongly urge all MMA bettors to keep a detailed log of their past wagers. Looking back through your past wagers can help you identify which betting strategies have been the most successful for you.

For example, if you have a record of 11-9 when betting on favorites and 4-1 when betting on underdogs, you may want to pay more attention to underdog plays. Also, if you are 22-9 in UFC fights and 4-6 in Bellator MMA, perhaps you should do more research when betting on Bellator MMA matches.

Keeping detailed records also allows storing your various user names and passwords for different sports books. If you have different logins and passwords for different books, it can get very confusing. You don’t want to be e-mailing your sports book several times asking for a password reset because you forgot it.

Budgeting Your Bankroll

Another major benefit of keeping detailed records is having total control over your current bankroll. A bettor’s bankroll is the amount of money they have available and currently in play spread over various sports books. Your bankroll is significant because it tells you how much you have to risk at any time.

A major fault of the novice sports bettor is using your bankroll unwisely. Don’t bet your entire available balance on one fight. Don’t bet your entire available balance on two fights. Using your available balance as a long-term tool is very important.

If you have $200 on 5Dimes, don’t bet $100 on one fighter. We wouldn’t even suggest betting $50 on one fighter unless it was an extenuating circumstance. Your bankroll’s total size will dictate your bet amounts.

Use your bankroll to gain incrementally. As your bankroll grows, the size of your bets can grow. A solid rule of thumb is to stay below 10% of your payroll on any one fight. If you are betting on a heavy favorite, it can be more than 10%. However, unless you have a rock-solid tip on an underdog, keep underdog bets in the 5% range.

Now that you know how to read and convert money lines, research fights, set your lines, understand the benefit of line shopping, realize the importance of record keeping, and bankroll management, you are all set to start betting on MMA fights. Good luck and enjoy your new hobby.


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