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How to Bet on UFC: 5 Tips and Strategies

by June 3, 2020

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With ESPN taking over coverage of UFC fights, the sport figured to rise in popularity. Now that the UFC is one of the only things available to bet on during the pandemic, that’s become a reality.

The UFC has taken advantage of the limited competition from other sports to put themselves front and center. There are fights almost every week, and bettors have become more likely to wager on fights they would not normally wager on.

Before you enter the world of UFC betting, have a look at these five tips and strategies to enhance your chances for success.

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Know a Fighter’s Strengths and Weaknesses

It sounds obvious, but bettors should know all of a fighter’s strengths and weaknesses before they place a wager. Too often, bettors rely on recent form to determine who will win a fight. However, what if the next fighter’s opponent uses a completely different style than their previous opponents?

In the UFC, “strikers” and “grapplers” are two of the most common terms to classify fighters. Strikers typically look to fight standing up, and they would prefer to trade punches, making it more of a boxing match. Grapplers are great wrestlers and are typically sound at jiu-jitsu, which is more ground fighting than boxing.

For my money, I would always take a “grappler” fighter over a “striker” in any match. Grapplers are more creative and have multiple ways they can end a fight. When fighters reach the highest level, it’s more difficult for a striker to end a match with just sheer punches.

You should examine a fighter’s versatility before making a wager. If their “ground game” is weak, it leaves them vulnerable against many fighters.

Do Not Bet the Undercard Just for the Sake Of It

Novice UFC bettors may recognize the biggest names in the sport, but they’re likely less familiar with many fighters on the undercard. Despite this, bettors may choose to take on more action on a big UFC card by wagering on many preliminary matches.

Simply put, if you do not know anything about a particular fighter, don’t let yourself wager on their fight. Otherwise, you’re simply throwing darts at a dartboard and hoping for the best. Blindly wagering is the worst kind of gambling, and it is what oddsmakers and sportsbooks feed on. Keep as much of the advantage with you and only bet on what you are familiar with.

50/50 Props

Like in most sports, you can bet on more than just the winner. In the UFC, there are a number of different prop bets available for any match. While high-risk prop bets can result in big payouts, some bettors prefer to take advantage of more of the 50/50 types of props.

Here are some examples of 50/50 prop bets that were available for the latest Tyron Woodley vs. Gilbert Burns fight:

Will the fight go the distance?

YES +138
NO -190

Total Rounds

OVER 4.5 +134
UNDER 4.5 -162

In each of these prop bets, you’ve got two choices that will result in pretty standard payouts. In both bets, the “juice” is heavily skewed to the fact that the fight would not go the distance.

If you were wondering what the difference between the two bets are, keep in mind that the fight could have been stopped in the fifth and final round. If there were a submission or the fight was ended in the fifth round, the “NO” for the fight going the distance would have cashed. However, the “OVER 4.5” rounds would have cashed as well.

Props With Better Payouts

Certain bettors are always going to be more aggressive by nature. These bettors will likely eschew the 50/50 props and seek out the prop bets that result in bigger payouts. Here are some examples of such props from the Woodley-Burns fight:

Method of Victory

Tryon Woodley by KO/TKO +155
Tyron Woodley by Points +290
Tyron Woodley by Submission +2600
Draw +5000
Gilbert Burns by KO/TKO +750
Gilbert Burns by Points +420
Gilbert Burns by Submission +500

Earlier, we discussed how important it was to know a fighter’s strengths and weaknesses when making a wager on the match. This is also true when contemplating making a wager on a prop bet. Notice that Tyron Woodley was a favorite to win the fight, yet his odds of +2600 to win by submission look awfully enticing. Those odds are so high since he is considered more of a striker, so the chances that he would win by submission are much worse than the chances of KO/TKO.

Round Betting (5 Rounds)

Tyron Woodley to Win in Round 1 +470
Tyron Woodley to Win in Round 2 +750
Tyron Woodley to Win in Round 3 +1200
Tyron Woodley to Win in Round 4 +2100
Tyron Woodley to Win in Round 5 +2400
Gilbert Burns to Win in Round 1 +1000
Gilbert Burns to Win in Round 2 +1200
Gilbert Burns to Win in Round 3 +1900
Gilbert Burns to Win in Round 4 +2200
Gilbert Burns to Win in Round 5 +2600

A prop like this has some of the biggest payouts one can find, and rightfully so. Picking the winner of the fight is difficult enough in most cases, and with this bet, you also need to get the round correct. Further complicating things, the fight has to end in the round you select for your bet to cash. Thus, if the fight went the distance, none of these bets would be winners.

Parlays Can Minimize Risk

There are many bettors who are fiscally responsible and put a hard limit on the amount of money they wager on each event. Say a bettor has $50 they are willing to wager on a particular UFC card. They may choose to make five $10 wagers on individual fights. However, that places a small ceiling on the amount of money they could win.

If the same bettor was confident in all five of their picks, they could look into making a five-fight parlay for a fraction of that $50. If one of their legs of the parlay lost, they would only be out the money they wagered as opposed to possibly losing all $50. However, if they hit their parlay, they might win as much as ten times the amount that they would have won with their five individual wagers, depending on the odds of each fight.

Check out our Sports Betting Guide for strategy tips & advice >>

Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Betting 101, Betting Tips, How-To, UFC