It’s only been a little over 25 years since the UFC was born. Their first pay-per-view events featured something much closer to “no holds barred” matches, bearing little resemblance to what you see today. But the promotion adjusted, thrived, and turned mixed martial arts or MMA into the king of all combat sports – and one of the most popular betting options at Bovada Sportsbook.

Are you ready for MMA and UFC betting? In the few short minutes it takes to read this handy guide, you’ll find out how to bet on UFC matches at Bovada by learning about the different wagers on the UFC/MMA odds board. We’ll also give you some free betting tips that will help you make smart picks without getting yourself knocked out.


UFC Moneyline Odds

Unlike team sports such as football or basketball, there are no point spreads in UFC betting. The most common way to bet on a fight is to pick a winner. The moneyline shows you the odds for both fighters and also tell you how much money you’ll win if you make the right pick.

Here’s an example of what you’ll see on the UFC betting odds board at Bovada. This was the moneyline for one of the biggest fights in MMA history, the August 2016 rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz at UFC 202:

  • Nate Diaz +120
  • Conor McGregor -150

Despite losing their first match by a second-round submission, McGregor was the –150 moneyline favorite for the sequel. Bovada uses the American odds format when referring to the UFC betting lines; as the –150 favorite, McGregor would have paid out $100 for every $150 wagered with a victory. Diaz, the +120 underdog, would have paid out $120 for every $100 wagered (smaller and larger bets are allowed). McGregor would eventually earn a majority decision to avenge his only loss in the UFC – up to that point.


UFC Total Rounds Odds

Depending on how important the fight is, there may be a number of different UFC props (short for “proposition” betting) available at Bovada. Prop bets are on something other than who will win the fight; the most popular of these is Total Rounds betting, which asks you whether the fight will go Over or Under a certain number of rounds. Keep in mind that you’ll find the Total Rounds bet under the UFC props menu; these are not considered “single” bets at Bovada, unlike the UFC Vegas odds.

Let’s jump ahead in time to October 2018, and the Lightweight title fight at UFC 229 between McGregor and the champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov:

  • Over 2.5 (EVEN)
  • Under 2.5 (–140)

The total for this match was 2.5 rounds, but the Under was the –140 favorite to cash in, as indicated by the number inside the parentheses. If the fight had gone Over 2.5 rounds (meaning it lasted at least until the 2:31 mark of the third round), bettors would have been paid out at even money – which is exactly what happened, as McGregor ended up tapping in the fourth.


UFC Method of Victory Odds

The Method of Victory prop is another popular way to bet on UFC fights. UFC betting can come in different flavors, depending on the importance of the event, but the standard Method of Victory prop will simply ask you how the winning fighter will get the job done. You can even bet on the match ending in a draw. Here were the odds at Bovada for the Nurmagomedov-McGregor Method of Victory bet:

  • Nurmagomedov by Decision or Technical Decision 2/1
  • McGregor by Decision or Technical Decision 9/1
  • Nurmagomedov by KO, TKO or DQ 3/1
  • McGregor by KO, TKO or DQ 8/5
  • Nurmagomedov by Submission 2/1
  • McGregor by Decision or Technical Decision 25/1
  • Draw or Technical Draw 75/1

For many of the multiple-choice props at Bovada, including this one, the “fractional odds” format will be used instead of American odds (you can switch back and forth at your leisure, or choose the “decimal odds” format popular in Europe and elsewhere). Simply multiply your bet by the given fraction to calculate the payout; in this case, betting on Nurmagomedov to win by submission would have tripled your money.


UFC Fight Length Odds

For a bigger challenge (and a bigger payout) than betting on which fighter will win, you can bet on them getting it done in a specific round – or via decision. If you had Nurmagomedov beating McGregor in the fourth, you were paid out at 9/1 odds.


UFC Parlay Odds

Finally, for an even bigger wad of cash, you can bet on several UFC fights from one card at the same time, and if you get them all right, your payout will be multiplied instead of added. The more fights you put in your parlay, the bigger the reward will grow, but watch out – one wrong pick, and the entire bet loses.

Let’s return to UFC 202, where the undercard to Diaz-McGregor 2 saw Anthony Johnson take on Glover Teixeira in the co-main event. Johnson, the –225 favorite, knocked Teixeira out in 13 seconds; that means he paid out $100 for every $225 wagered on the moneyline. Instead of adding that to your McGregor payout, if you had parlayed these two bets, you would have earned considerably more money: $481.48 returned on a $200 parlay instead of $311.11 on two $100 single bets.


UFC Betting Tips

Every bet you make on the UFC – or any other sport – should be for fun. Most fight fans don’t put too much thought into how to bet online like a pro. They’ll put small bets down on their favorite personalities (like McGregor), giving them something extra to cheer for when they’re watching the fights. If you’re one of these people, the most important thing to remember is this: Never bet money you can’t afford to lose. Treat your UFC bets as part of your entertainment expenses, just like buying the pay-per-view or going to your favorite sports bar.

Having said that, if you’d also like to improve your chances of making the right picks, the key to learning how to bet on a UFC fight is to think about the overall betting market as well as the two fighters in question. Your goal isn’t to “beat the bookie” when you make your wager – your competition comes from the other people betting on the fight, which includes all of those recreational bettors we just mentioned. If you make smarter than average picks on a consistent basis, you’ll be in the winner’s column more often than bettors who don’t.

Knowing a few things about the fighters in question will give you a leg up on the competition. Make sure to read the UFC previews for all of the major cards here at Bovada; you can also dig deeper and do your own research, looking at the relevant statistics for each fighter–along with more advanced stats like takedown percentage and striking defense. Watch as well for fights with a “clash of styles” that will naturally favor one of the combatants, like a proven grappler with some mobility facing a one-dimensional striker with poor takedown defense.

Now that you know the ins and outs of UFC betting, you can place your wagers with confidence at Bovada Sportsbook. Keep hitting that refresh button for the latest MMA odds and analysis, and we’ll see you at the Octagon.