Things to Avoid in MMA Betting

MMA Betting Advice: Things to Avoid When Placing Wagers

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Avoid Patterns

If you’re betting on MMA, chances are you are also an MMA fan. And as fans, we all have certain biases, maybe even on an unconscious level, of what we like and what we don’t like. There’s nothing bad about being a fan, until we allow our tastes and preferences as fight fans to affect our wagering.

Maybe you prefer a style of fighting, whether it be wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, or a vicious striking approach. Make sure you’re not letting your betting mirror what you enjoy as a viewer. Take a step back sometimes and look at the fighters you are betting. Are the majority of bets on a certain type of fighter? Or do you always bet either favorites or underdogs? Do you prefer veteran fighters to those who are newer on the scene? Winning bets come from all parts of the spectrum and if we fixate on one thing, we could be missing the boat on some winning bets. Avoid patterns and be just as likely to bet on any kind of fighter on a given day.

Over-Fishing for Underdogs

When you compare MMA to boxing in terms of wagering, it’s hard to not notice how upsets are more prevalent in boxing. Every other week, a boxer wins a fight who is a gigantic underdog. In MMA, you may be waiting a while for a truly big upset. We’re not talking about +200 and +300-level underdogs, but the more massively-priced dogs. Think back to all the MMA fights you’ve seen. Off hand, can you name some upsets even in the 10-1 range? Matt Serra beating GSP? OK, well, that’s one and that was a long ago. Even when TJ Dillashaw beat Renan Barao in a smashing upset in 2014, he was only a 5-1 underdog.

Another consideration is that in top MMA organizations, like the UFC, all fighters are good. It’s not like boxing where it’s wide open and anyone can fight anyone, which leads to fights where some boxers are 30-1, 40-1, or even higher. There’s more parity in MMA due to the organizational structure and you’re not likely to see a UFC bout where the odds are higher that 10-1 and even that’s rare. In any event, winning in MMA betting is a more ponderous endeavor because you’re not likely to land that many big underdog picks like in some other forms of sports wagering.

Not Being Selective

With the explosion of MMA, the action comes hot and heavy. The UFC can have multiple cards on the same day for goodness sake. Add in all the other organizations and the cards they stage–there is no lack of wagering action for the MMA bettor. It’s not like the old days, where you’d need to go a few months before having more fights to bet.

The growth of the sport helps illuminate the need to be selective. Naturally, when we only bet on fights where we feel we have a clear edge and we are able to maintain those high standards consistently throughout, it stands to reason that we’ll do better over the long-haul. And nowadays when there are no fights worth betting this week, we can rest assured there will be more fights that are soon happening.

The more you bet on MMA, the more you will know when you are making a really good bet or when you’re just winging it. It’s a feeling in the pit of your stomach. Any MMA fan can just throw opinions around casually. We want to avoid that as bettors. We want to painstakingly handicap the matches, relate it to the odds from a value-standpoint, and only pull the trigger on a bet when everything is in-line. Where we sometimes run into trouble is when we start picking fights all willy-nilly. The bookie has to put odds on fights. We don’t need to bet all of them. So unless we make the most out of our built-in advantage of being able to define the terms of battle, it’s going to be hard to be successful at this.

Over-Evaluating Past Performances

Looking at the bouts in a fighter’s past is an obvious and key part of handicapping MMA. This element can also be misused, leading to many lost bets over the course of time. In a lot of sports, there are only so many styles. Past performances can be more revealing. But in MMA, there are so many different approaches to the sport and with all the different combinations that lie within, it’s really difficult to to know how much importance to attach to certain results.

We can’t judge fighters on the simple scale of how good they are. Fighter A beat Fighter B. Fighter C lost to Fighter B. So now Fighter A and Fighter C are fighting. Fighter A should win, right? Doesn’t work that way. In MMA, it’s all about styles. Certain things trouble certain fighters, while other fighter thrive in the same conditions.

What this means to us as bettors is that we can’t neglect the stylistic components that play a big role in determining the outcome of fights. When betting on a fight, we need to account for the very specific style tie-ins. It’s not enough to say a fighter is vulnerable to kicks. Is it leg kicks, body kicks, front kicks, head kicks, spinning back-kicks? Does the opponent have that in his repertoire? This is when you start handicapping fights in a meaningful way and not just relying on informal observations and a sense of feel to guide your wagering.

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