How Do MMA Betting Odds Work?

The Basics

Like traditional sports betting, mixed martial arts betting odds are set based on a number of factors. The main ones include the matchup, the lines, and most importantly, the over/under (or “spread”). Like in the case of traditional sports betting, there is also the possibility of manipulating the odds in your favor through different strategies such as bet sizing, leveraging, and hedging.


The matchup is usually considered the most important factor in determining the outcome of a sporting event or competition. In the case of MMA, the matchup is typically between two fighters who are either considered heavyweights (over 200 lbs) or lightweights (under 200 lbs). When determining the matchup, the organizers of the fight will often look at a number of factors including experience, size, and skill. In some cases, a third fight between the same two fighters can be held to determine a winner via a tiebreaker. In these instances, the main event is usually a non-title fight with the co-main event being some championship worth wagering on.


Since the advent of the internet, sportsbooks have adapted to the changing landscape by offering betting odds based on the newest information. For MMA, this often means adjusting the line as the match approaches, moving it in the direction of the bettor. In many instances, the line will move up or down according to the cumulative performance of the two participants throughout the fight. If there is an oddsmaker for mixed martial arts, you can be sure they will update their lines multiple times throughout the fight, moving them in your direction as the fight progresses.


In the world of MMA, bets are usually placed regarding the total number of “holds” or “strikes” that will be exchanged during the fight. The over/under determines how many “significant” strikes (those that land cleanly on the opponent, or those that cause significant damage) will happen in the fight. In some instances, an even money bet (that is, a 50/50 shot of the fight going either way) can be placed on “no difference,” “majority,” or “furthermore.”


Hedging is the practice of placing a wager on one side (either side) of the equation, with the goal of reducing the risk of loss. For example, if you think that the underdogs will win the match, you can bet on them with the goal of reducing your risk of loss. In most instances, hedging is not recommended in mixed martial arts betting due to the high level of technicality involved, the huge variance in the outcome of any given fight, and the fact that fights can end in a flash due to the nature of the sport. However, if you are a seasoned professional looking for a low-risk investment opportunity, you can explore the numerous options available on the market today to reduce your exposure to the sport you love.

More Than Meets The Eye

It is important to keep in mind that the factors discussed above are all determined based on the subjective interpretation of the organizers of the event and those wagering on it. In some instances, the outcome will be determined by an almighty clash of titans where one fighter completely outclasses the other, leaving no doubts as to which one will emerge victorious. In other cases, it could be that one fighter’s experience, while the other comes from the ranks of an up-and-coming promotion, and the inexperience of one will prove to be their eventual downfall. There is also the rare knockout victory or defeat where the lines may move in extreme fashion either way, leaving more than a few surprised observers.

Manipulating The Odds

The various strategies discussed above allow for significant variance in the odds that an individual will win or lose a match (or in some cases, the fight itself). This makes it possible for someone who knows how to exploit the odds in their favor to greatly minimize their risk of loss when betting on MMA.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, it should be reiterated that while all the factors that determine the odds of a mixed martial arts fight are not necessarily under an individual’s control, it is still possible to significantly alter one’s odds of winning or losing through strategic use of leverage, sizing, and hedging. As always, betting on sporting events is extremely subjective and dependent on the whims of the organizers and the linemakers at the time you make your wager. With that in mind, the next time you are at the race track or sportsbook, keep in mind that you are not necessarily betting on the outcome of a sporting event, but you are rather placing a wager on whether or not certain parameters will be met.