Mixed martial arts (MMA) is full-contact fighting that combines elements of wrestling, boxing and various martial arts.
MMA rose to prominence in the US with the formation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the early 1990s. The sport’s popularity peaked in the mid-2000s. At the time, it was considered more popular than the NHL or NASCAR and the world’s fastest-growing sport.
The UFC is still the sport’s premier organization, and it will host its 237th main fighting card event in May. However, other US fighting organizations, including Bellator MMA, have gained popularity over the years as well.
Smaller regional MMA organizations that host fight cards in various states have also launched and continue to flourish, including a number in Pennsylvania.
Like boxing, part of the sport’s popularity in the US stems from the fact Nevada-based sportsbooks take bets on various MMA fights. Legal PA sports betting launched in November 2018 and most PA sportsbooks now take bets on a variety of MMA competitions as well.
Below are some MMA betting tips you can use at your favorite PA sportsbook.
Basics of MMA sports betting in PA
You’re most likely to find the following basic MMA bets available at PA sportsbooks for major fights:
MMA moneylines work much like moneylines in most other sports. Sportsbooks post odds for each competitor in a fight based on that fighter’s likelihood of winning. You’ll see that as either a negative or positive number. It’s negative for the favorite and positive for the underdog.
You simply pick the fighter you think will win and lock in your bet at the odds posted at the time you place the bet.
For example, most sportsbooks had the October 2018 UFC 229 fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor moneylines at Nurmagomedov -170 and McGregor +140.
That meant you would have had to bet $170 on Nurmagomedov to win $100 plus your bet back. It also meant every $100 bet on McGregor would earn you $140 plus your bet back if McGregor won.
Nurmagomedov won with a fourth-round submission, so only the moneyline bets on Nurmagomedov paid off.
Total rounds bets are a lot over/under bets in other sports. Sportsbooks post a line on the number of rounds a fight is projected to last. You bet on whether the actual number of rounds will be over or under that number.
Most PA sportsbooks will also allow you to bet on how a fight will be won. Winning method bets are unique to MMA fights.
MMA fights are won either by knockout, submission, or judge’s decision. It doesn’t matter who wins; you just pick one of the three ways the fight will end and get paid if you are right.
MMA parlays involve combining two or more basic MMA bets into one.
MMA competitions usually involve cards with a variety of different fights. A parlay can be put together combining two or more moneyline bets on different fights on the same card. The parlay will pay better than individual bets on the fights would. That’s because you have to win every bet that is a part of the parlay to get paid anything at all.
Some PA sportsbooks will also take a variety of more advanced MMA bets.
For example, you might be able to place an MMA futures bet on the likelihood of a particular fighter winning a title over the next 12 months.
You may also be able to bet on various props in an MMA fight.
Some PA sportsbooks will post proposition lines related to the outcome of a fight or the fighters involved. It includes things like the combination of total rounds and winning method bets or an over/under on the exact time a fight will last.
Finally, some PA sportsbooks will also offer live or in-fight betting on MMA competitions. This allows you to make multiple bets on lines that are adjusted as the action in a fight continues.
MMA betting tips
While MMA fighters are divided up by weight class there can be so many other differences between competitors it’s downright hard to pick winners. Plus, total rounds and winning method bets come down to guessing right most of the time.
However, you can give yourself a slight edge in MMA betting by using common sense and following these four basic tips:
- Carefully consider the fighters involved. Is one coming off an injury? Did one have to drop or gain weight to qualify for the fight? Small edges can make a big difference.
- Think about the style of the fighters when considering a total rounds bet. Are these defensive experts or aggressive fighters? Fights between two combatants that play defense usually last longer. Aggressive fights are often faster ones.
- Look at the history of each fighter when considering winning method bets. Two fighters that have a history of going the distance are probably headed to a judge’s decision. Plus, strikers with a history of knockout wins and submission experts almost always play to type.
- Study fighting styles. MMA fighters are typically experts in one or two fighting disciplines. Familiarizing yourself with the different styles they use and which style is best in combating another. Break it down, and you’ll see most fights play out like they’re expected to.