Styles Make Fights: Tips for Betting on the UFC

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has grown from an outlaw test of martial arts specialists testing their disciplines against others to prove the best martial art to a professional sport with athletes who are true mixed martial artists with skills in all aspects of the sport. As the UFC has grown in popularity from increased exposure on Fox to the present ESPN-era, so too has legalized sports betting in the United States. 

While recent scandals have put a spotlight on the issues surrounding UFC betting, there is no reason why people cannot have fun with fight cards by making UFC picks and placing wagers. So, rather than paying for access to a private Discord server, we’ve compiled a few betting tips to make your UFC picks successful while keeping things fun in the process.

Don’t Do MMA Math!

Knowing the two fighters’ records, history, and stats is always important before making a wager on a UFC fight. Regardless of the sport, you should always be well-researched before placing a wager on a game or fight outcome. However, when reviewing records and stats, do not fall into the trap that MMA fans have for decades: don’t do MMA math!

MMA math is similar to comparing records of teams in other sports and works like this: in reviewing the fighter’s records, you might find the fighters share a common opponent or people in their records share similar opponents. Then, you use these past results to pick a winner in the fight. This is a similar approach people will take in stick and ball sports trying to determine a winner.

MMA fans have spent decades working through mental equations in their minds, bending over backward to figure out who will win a fight, be it in a fantasy scenario or the main event of an upcoming card. More often than not, this abstract MMA math doesn’t work. 

If you used MMA math betting to bet on light-heavyweight Dominick Reyes after giving Jon Jones – who was long considered the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet for years – the toughest fight of his career, you likely picked Reyes to win against competition perceived to be not on Jones’ level. 

Since the Jones fight, Reyes has lost three straight fights, all via knockout. You can work through the history of MMA and find that MMA math doesn’t work.

Always remember the adage: styles make fights.

Research is important, but MMA is Unpredictable

Research is important to any betting endeavor. In all honesty, regardless of your endeavor, you should be well-researched and informed. 

However, professional sports can be unpredictable. None more so than MMA. Let’s go to history to prove this point and demonstrate how MMA math and research can fail you by reviewing one of the greatest upsets in sports history. 

UFC 69 – GSP vs. Serra

UFC 69 featured the main event of welterweight champion and rising superstar Georges St. Pierre defending his title against Matt Serra, who had just won the most recent season of the Ultimate Fighter. Regardless of the stats you reviewed or both fighters’ records regionally and in the UFC, there was only one pick to make: GSP to win. 

In fact, oddsmakers agreed with GSP listed as a -1300 favorite, which is a 92.9% win probability. Serra was listed as the huge underdog at +850 odds. I was among the MMA fans watching in stunned amazement when Serra landed a huge shot behind St. Pierre’s ear and sent his equilibrium in chaos and St. Pierre to mat. 

Serra swarmed on GSP getting the TKO victory at 3:25 of the first round. This is considered the biggest upset in MMA history. However, after quickly becoming the number one contender, GSP made good on being a -425 favorite, demolishing Serra at UFC 83 and regaining the welterweight championship with a TKO victory at 4:45 of the second round. 

St. Pierre never lost in his career again and went down as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, while Serra never strung together enough wins to get a third fight with GSP.

UFC 193 – Rousey vs. Holm

However, research into a fighter’s history can give you a betting edge, along with the UFC’s official fight metrics, to figure out a fighter’s tendencies and where they excel. Look no further than UFC 193. 

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was a superstar that led the charge and brought women’s MMA to the UFC. She finished fights quickly with her signature armbar while improving her striking game. However, Rousey was never good defensively in the striking game. 

Former boxing world champion and successful kickboxer Holly Holm had transitioned to MMA and was next on Rousey’s hit list. Rousey’s odds reached -2000 to win this fight, with Holm listed at +900. For the more astute MMA fans, they knew what the public didn’t: Holm had a significant striking advantage and just needed to avoid Rouseys’ armbar. 

Holm was a real threat to defeat Rousey, and research into her boxing and kickboxing past made that obvious, despite her uninspiring rise to title contender. 

But every fight and round starts standing. 

Early in the fight, it looked like Rousey was going to earn another first-round submission when she took Holm down and worked toward the armbar, but Holm was well-prepared and escaped the attempt. 

It was all downhill from here for Rousey. 

Holm’s superior striking was on full display as she picked apart Rousey in the first round. In the second round, Holm delivered a perfect head-kick she had set up throughout the fight, knocking out Rousey, following up with punches, and sending the non-researched fight fans into shock: the all-conquering female superstar Rousey and her mystique was no more, laying unconscious on the mat.

Rousey was never the same. After losing via TKO to the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, Rousey never fought in MMA again, becoming a professional wrestler with the WWE. 

Holm, who defeated Rousey, lost her title at UFC 200 to Meisha Tate by submission in the fifth round. The same Meisha Tate that lost to Rousey via armbar TWICE. More evidence that MMA math doesn’t work and styles make fights.

MMA can be unpredictable, but you should always research before making a wager because it can and does pay off in the end.

Keep it Fun!

You don’t need to search the internet to focus on a new fighter to the UFC’s regional record. The UFC has fighters from across the globe who emerge from regional circuits, making it to the world’s biggest MMA promotion. You must be good in all aspects of the sport to do that. 

There is also a world of MMA experts who do focus on these regional promotions and can tell you how strong a fighter’s resume is. Rely on these people as a part of your research for making wagers. The biggest tip we can give you is to keep things fun when betting. 

You should always set a limit and play within a budget to keep things fun. MMA betting won’t be fun if you bet a large amount of money on a “sure thing” favorite to win, only for them to lose.

Second, don’t overthink things and stress about “is this the right pick?” Lean on expert insight, do your research, and enjoy the fights. 

But always remember styles make fights, MMA is unpredictable, and keep your UFC betting fun.