23 Mar

How to Wager on UFC / MMA Fight Night

Pin Your Bets: Ultimate Guide to Betting on UFC, MMA and Boxing Matches

Pin Your Bets: Ultimate Guide to Betting on UFC, MMA and Boxing Matches

According to social media followings, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has 15 million fans, making it more popular than any other American sport besides the NBA – even more popular than the NFL (14.9 million). Where there is mass viewership, mass betting will always coincide. And now that sports betting is legal in Indiana, the number of people looking to bet on the UFC, other MMA style fighting and, of course, boxing, is rising rapidly. Not only does betting make every fight just a little more interesting, UFC is widely considered to be one of the easiest sports to bet (and win) on, assuming you’re a true follower of the circuit.

If you’re among the crowd of would-be UFC betting enthusiasts looking to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide will teach you everything you need to know to start betting on MMA and boxing bouts. We’ll cover all the different types of single-match fights you can expect to find at Indiana’s live and online sportsbooks. We’ll also cover multi-bout betting (parlays) and UFC prop bets; two of the most lucrative betting options recommended only for genuine fans and veteran fight night punters.

Before we continue, please know that this guide expects readers to understand moneyline (US) odds and basic betting terminology. If you need to brush up on these subjects, please use the following links.

UFC Fight Betting and Indiana Criminal Code

Yes, sports betting is now legal in Indiana. You are welcome to bet on boxing, MMA and UFC fights. But there are restrictions you need to be aware of. First of all, it’s only legal to place bets with land-based, online and mobile sportsbooks authorized by the IN Gaming Commission. Additionally, you must be of legal age (21) to gamble, and must be physically located within the state to place a bet on any IGC-licensed website.

Further restrictions apply to different athletic levels of sports betting (i.e. professional, college, and youth athletics). The following rules apply.

Is it legal in Indiana to bet on…
Professional Fighters
College Fighters
No, due to limitations…
Youth Fighters (under 18)
No, with exception for pros.

Professional Fighters: It is perfectly legal in Indiana to bet on professional grade MMA/UFC and Boxing.

College Fighters: College-level fighting is prohibited by default, simply because the NCAA does not sanction boxing. College-level sports betting is legal in general, but only if its conducted by an NCAA Division I athletics department. Anything lower, such as the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA), is not eligible for wagering in the state.  

Youth Fighters: In general, betting on youth sports (i.e. any sport where one or more participants is under the age of 18) is illegal. The only exception to this rule is if an underage fighter has officially registered as a professional grade boxer or mixed martial artist, and you are betting on a professional-grade competition.

Single Match Betting on UFC, MMA & Boxing

To bet on a single match is just that – to place one bet on the result of one fight. That doesn’t mean you have to bet on who is going to win. Yes, that’s an option, and a quite popular one at that, but there are additional ways to bet on fighting.

Below is a set of sample lines you might find posted at an online sportsbook before a big fight.

Match Up
Rounds O/U
Jorge Misvidal
+3.5 (-110)
Kamaru Usman
-3.5 (-110)

Here, we see an upcoming fight between two Welterweight fighters, Jorge Misvidal and Kamaru Usman. In the right columns are the different ways to place a single-match bet on this fight.

  1. Moneyline (Bet to Win)
  2. Total Rounds(Over/Under)

Moneyline – Straight Bet to Win

Moneylines are the simplest of all sports bets. It is a straight forward bet on who will win the fight. It doesn’t matter how long the fight goes, or the method of victory. You’re only betting on who will be declared victor when it’s all over. 

Match Up
Jorge Misvidal
Kamaru Usman

The sample lines above depict a very heavy favorite vs. underdog situation. In this case, Misvidal is the underdog, listed at +300. Positive odds mean you’ll win more than you wagered, if you’re correct. A $100 bet on him would pay $300 for the win. Usman is the favorite, so heavily projected to win at -400 odds that it would take a $400 bet to win just $100.

The accuracy of this line has everything to do with when it was posted. If this is the opening line in a fight, we know that the oddsmakers are quite certain Usman is going to win. They are very good at their jobs, and rarely make a mistake when it comes to heavy favorites. However, if the opening line was closer to a median (i.e. +140 / -190), then shifted this far apart over time leading up to the fight, then it’s safer to assume that most of the money is being bet on Usman, or at least the “sharp money” is going on Usman. When this happens, a bookmaker will shift the lines to encourage more betting on the other side. You can learn more about these situations here.

Total Number of Rounds (Over/Under)

If there’s one thing risk-taking UFC and boxing fans love, it’s that you don’t have to choose a winner to place a single-match bet. Just like in other sports, you can bet on whether a total will be over or under the predicted mark. In this case, it’s the total number of rounds a fight will go before it’s over.

The maximum number of rounds a fight can go will depend on the type of bout. Most UFC / MMA exhibition fights are scheduled for 3 rounds. Major events will go 5. Each round is five minutes long. A professional boxing match is different. It can’t go over a maximum of 12 rounds, with 3-minute rounds for men, and 2-minute rounds for women. This matters, because “total rounds” bets are almost always made in half-points of, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, etc.

Match Up
Total Rounds O/U
Jorge Misvidal
+3.5 (-110) Over
Kamaru Usman
-3.5 (-110) Under

The Welterwight fight in our sample lines is a major event, scheduled for a maximum of 5 rounds. Here we see the Total Rounds Over/Under is set at 3.5. When you bet the “Over”, you’re betting that the match will last more than two and a half minutes into the third round. If the fight is called at or before 2:29 into the 3rd, you lose the bet. If the fight ends at or after 2:31 in the 3rd, the “Over” bet wins, and all “Under” bets lose. It is possible for the O/U to result in a push, but only if the fight is stopped in the 3rd at precisely 2:30.

In our sample, the lines for the O/U rounds bet are equal; -110 on each side. This represents the oddsmaker’s belief that no one outcome is more likely than the other.  It’s a little more common for the lines to be skewed, perhaps -120 O, -105 U. Either way, it’s pretty obvious the sportsbook is the one hedging its bets – guaranteed to make a small profit so long as the public takes fairly even action on both sides. The more skewed the lines become, the more the bookie is hoping to get extra action on the weak side to balance their books.

Multi-Game Bets on UFC / Boxing Fights

A multi-game wager is what’s known as a Parlay, or an Accumulator bet. The idea is to place a single bet on the outcome of multiple bouts. Every major UFC event will feature a long list of fights, ending with a Main Event. It’s not uncommon for a bettor to group multiple results into a single bet. The payoff can be quite lofty, but only if all of your picks come back correct.

Unlike high-scoring team sports (football, basketball, etc.), standard parlays are the only way to place multi-match bets in UFC, MMA and Boxing. Teasers and Pleasers are not offered.

Parlay Bets / Accumulators

What makes parlay bets so tempting is that the payout rises substantially higher with each selection you make. In our sample lines above, a single bet on Usman to win only pays -400, or 1-to-4. But if you fill your bet slip with Usman at -400, plus with three other fighters at something like -195, -155, and +160, then switch the bet from Singles over to a Parlay, the combined lines increase the payout to +715 (bet $100 to win $715; or 7.15-to-1).

On the downside, parlays are extremely hard to win. The more picks you make, the riskier it gets, which is exactly why bookies are so willing to pay those high prices. For this reason, it is only recommended to make a parlay wager when you are well versed in the sport and each athlete you’re betting on/against, and you’re wholly confident that all of your picks are good. Maybe you aren’t too sure about that +160. If you remove that one, dropping it to a 3-leg parlay on -400, -195 and -155, you still stand to get paid at +214. But again, every pick must be correct to win. One wrong selection, and the entire bet is lost.

There’s a lot more to parlay betting that I’m not going to get into here. We’ve already supplied an entire guide to parlays, as well as ways to minimize your risk with parlay system bets. You can learn more about them here:

UFC / Boxing Prop Bets

Proposition bets are extremely popular in round-based fighting sports, but not a lot of sportsbooks offer them because they tend to be easier for handicappers to win. If you are very familiar with UFC, Bellator, or the professional boxing circuit, it may be worth seeking out bookies that offer fighter props.

There are two main types of props you’ll find in fighting style sports. They include specific round winners, and method of victory.

Round (#) Winner

This is an “if bet” proposition in which you can choose who you think will win a particular round of the fight. It’s an “if” bet, because the bet is only valid if the match goes that many rounds.

Example: Let’s say Fighter A likes to feel out their opponent, rarely scoring many points in the first round, but coming on very strong in the second. Fighter B is known to come out swinging from the moment the first bell rings. You might place a bet on fighter B to win round 1, and Fighter A to win Round 2. If Fighter B ends up knocking Fighter A out cold in Round 1, you win that bet. The second bet on round 2 is null and void, because the match didn’t last two rounds.

Method of Victory

This is another popular prop bet in which you can choose how the match will end, rather than who will win it. Optional methods of victory include:

  • Fight Goes the Distance – The fight lasts the maximum amount time time and rounds, with the winner decided by the judges.
  • Fight is Within the Distance – The fight ends within the bettor’s chosen time frame (i.e. between the start and finish of Round 3).
  • Fighter Wins by Decision – The judges call the fight over, for any reason, deciding the winner before the maximum time/rounds are completed.
  • Fighter Wins by Submission – One fighter taps out (in UFC / MMA), or coach throws in the towel (in boxing).
  • Fight Ends in a Draw – The judges call the fight dead-even at the end of all rounds, deciding it’s a draw, or tie, between both contenders.

Other proposition bets may be offered on a fight as it is happening. These fall into a different category of live betting, or in-play bets. You can learn all about that here:

Additional Sports Betting Tutorials

Interested in learning more? Check out our additional targeted sports wagering pages.

Learn How to Bet on…

Legal Indiana Sports Betting in 2021

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