Perhaps the fastest growing sport in the 21st century, UFC has come a long way from its roots in the 1990s and has become the flag bearer of cage fighting and mixed martial arts worldwide.
But there are many facets of UFC that sports betting fans unfamiliar with the franchise don’t know about.
On the face of it UFC can seen a very gruesome sport and it’s true that some of the bloodiest injuries in world sport comes from inside the Octagon.
But there is also an art to UFC and how to fight in the conditions set when you enter the Octagon to face an opponent.
This guide will take you through the basics of UFC, how fights work and the rules of battle. You will learn now only the overall concepts of the sport but also how to bet on UFC. We will introduce you to the UFC betting markets that have proven most popular over the years.
Once you have read this guide you will know more about UFC betting and how to follow the action without getting confused. It’s a vast, interconnected web of rivalries, fights and bad blood in UFC — so let’s delve into what it’s all about!
What is UFC?
UFC stands for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and is a promotion of mixed martial arts that grew from the popularity of cage fighting in the early 1990s. Much like boxing and other forms of combat sports, UFC has to run on a licence but crucially fighters are signed up to the promotion. This means there is a greater emphasis on creating high-profile matches and fighters will have to defend their titles regularly — unlike boxing where fighters agree their own terms to fight under a certain board of control.
UFC fighters have the freedom to fight however they like. They may be experts in boxing, wrestling, karate, jiu-jitsu or a combination of these and other disciplines. The only thing that ties UFC fighters down to a specific category is their weight. Fighters are allowed to fight how they like, so long as they avoid certain manoeuvres. These include eye gouging, biting, groin attacks, spitting and a number of other offences.
Fighters will agree to bouts and meet at specific events. These could be the flagship UFC numerical events such as UFC 26, UFC 176 or UFC 230. There are also special UFC Fight Nights which take place all over the world, as well as broadcast-centred UFC events.
In a UFC match fighters will compete over a set number of rounds — usually three or five in the case of headline championship fights. They fight in an eight-sided cage called an Octagon and the purpose is the first fighter to win via one of these avenues:
Knockout: A fighter knocks their opponent into subconsciousness via any legal strike.
Submission: The fighter clearly taps the mat, admitting a submission defeat, or communicates they are in sufficient pain.
TKO: The referee decides the fighter can no longer continue.
Judge Decision: Points are scored in each round and if the fight goes the distance, the judges decide the victor.
Surrender: A fighter intentionally quits the fight.
Disqualification: An illegal move leads to the fighter forfeiting the bout.
No Contest: The fighter cannot continue the fight as a result of an unintentional illegal move.
How to bet on UFC
Now you know the overall rules of UFC, it’s time to see how you can put that knowledge into practice. Here are just some of the biggest betting markets available to you in UFC.
This is the most simple form of UFC betting and the market most people new to the sport will head to. Betting on the match winner is very straightforward. There are no draws in UFC and so you can only bet on either a 1 or a 2. The 1 is the first name on the bout, while the 2 is the second name on the bout.
In the Unibet UFC sportsbook you will see a list of the upcoming fights at any MMA event. If you’re betting on a match winner, simply find the fight you want to bet on and select the fighter you think will win. You will see their odds above their name. Enter the amount you want to bet and check the potential payout is worth the risk before clicking ‘Place Bet’.
In Play betting
Unibet offers In Play betting on many UFC over the season. In Play betting is a great way to add to your UFC experience while the live action is taking place. With In Play betting, the odds on a fighter winning their bout will change as the action unfolds. If it appears as though, for example, Drakkar Klose will beat Christos Giagos, then the former’s odds with start to shorten. Likewise, if Giagos suddenly strikes, then their odds will shorten instead, and Klose’s price will lengthen.
The beauty of In Play betting is how to time it just right. You have to weigh up when to bet, before the odds start to deflate. Of course, you also need to make sure you’re betting on what will be a winning outcome!
Method of victory
Many big UFC fights will offer this market. The method of victory in UFC is one of the most talked about ahead of any fight, because often fighters from different disciplines are coming up against each other. So you might end up with a heavy strike fighter facing a submission expert. It will therefore be a battle between hard hits and technical guile. Always check up on what expertise the fighters have before betting on this market. If both fighters excel in striking, then knockout would be a smart method of victory to back.
Go the distance
Some of the best UFC fights in history have gone this distance. This is when the fight reaches the allotted number of rounds available to the two fighters. In this instance, the bout will be judged on points and a winner decided. You can bet on a fight to go the distance if you think neither fighter will let their guard down significantly over the rounds.
This is a market that some UFC betting fans love. There is always speculation on what will be the next big fight in UFC. Indeed, some of the champions in their weight class hype up huge battles against rivals in order to generate more interest in their fights. UFC bouts can be arranged months in advance and so Unibet have set up a market for fans who love to speculate on the big battles. You can bet on the winner of future fights confident in the knowledge that if the fight isn’t arranged by a certain date then the bet is void and the money returned to you.
It’s not all about UFC in the mixed martial arts world. Bellator is the second biggest MMA franchise that stages major events around the world and is worth keeping an eye on if you’re interested in knowing more about the sport.
Bellator offers its own mix of experienced and skilled fighters, with many young stars beginning their path to fame in this franchise. There are Bellator bouts every week - just as in UFC - and the franchise is worth keeping an eye on, especially when the youngsters start justifying the hype that surrounds them.
When are UFC fights held?
Generally UFC fights take place around the weekend. A usual UFC contest will be on a Saturday night in order to maximise viewership around the world, as well as sell out in the stadium. Occasionally events can be held on Friday or Sunday, but Saturday is the main night.
Most of the highest-profile UFC contests take place in America and Canada, but there are UFC specials throughout the year in Europe, Asia and South America.
Flagship UFC events - the numbered ones - take place roughly every six weeks. These showdowns will feature the biggest matches, with fighters battling for the most coveted titles available in the sport.
UFC is by no means an all-male sport. Women’s UFC is massive and often headlines the main events. Legends have been made in the women’s half of UFC and some rivalries run deep. Make sure to keep an eye on the women’s side of this sport if you really want to see the best MMA has to offer.
Bet on UFC today
Now you know a bit more about UFC and how it works, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test! You can see all our UFC betting markets in the Unibet sportsbook! Remember, there is a UFC event almost every weekend, so you will never be too short of live action when looking for the next match to bet on!