How to bet on combat sports: Explaining odds, betting tips, props, and more in ultimate guide to MMA, boxing, and pro wrestling

While sports such as baseball, football, hockey and basketball have an offseason, the combat sports world never sleeps. During a full calendar year, there are various MMA, boxing and pro wrestling matches to look forward to watching. There is something for everyone, ranging from strawweight to heavyweights, grudge matches to title fights. 

For the competitors in the ring, cage or squared circle, the chance to elevate your craft while making an impact in the sport is always valuable. For the fan, they are looking at all aspects of a fight, finding ways to place a wager wherever they see fit. 

Of course, no single bet or betting strategy will guarantee a win. The information provided by The Sporting News could be useful as a manual or sorts for the best bets and strategies when it comes to combat sports. 

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Combat sports odds

Odds are an indication of how likely an outcome is to occur. For likely outcomes, the odds are lower, meaning the bookmaker is expecting this outcome, and as such, a lower payout is attached to a winning bet.

For outcomes that are not so likely, the odds are higher, and as such, a higher payout is awarded in case of a winning bet.

Depending on where you are located, different formats can be used for betting on bouts. One website to use for options like the ones shown below is Sports Interaction, in Canada. 

American odds (Plus/Minus)

If a plus sign comes in front of the number, it means that for every $100 bet, you will win the number that comes after the “+” sign in the case of a successful bet (on top of getting your original stake back). If you see a minus sign in front of the number, think the reverse of the plus odds: to win $100, you must bet the number shown after the minus “–” sign. 

For example, Israel Adesanya is the -170 favorite for a fight against Alex Pereira, the +145 underdog. If this was a straight bet, it would cost you $170 for a $100 return on an Adesanya win. If you bet $100 on Pereira, you would win $145 if he won. You would have to wager more money on Adesanya than on Pereira. 

The same would apply to boxing and pro wrestling. 

MORE: MMA Schedule 2022: Date, division, location for upcoming fights

Slash odds

In many territories outside the United States, such as the U.K., slash odds are used. This is a fractional display that uses a similar concept as American odds.

With the slash method, the odds are displayed as a fraction. The winning amount is listed in the numerator, while the corresponding bet is listed in the denominator. For example, if the odds are 9/2, a $2 bet would garner a $9 win.

Decimal odds

In other places, odds are listed in the decimal format up to two decimal places.

In short, with decimal odds, the number shown is the total amount gained on a $1 bet, with one twist: Unlike the other formats, this number includes the return of the original stake. Therefore, a successful $1 bet at 2.00 odds returns $2: winnings of $1 to go with the original $1 stake (total of $2).

Combat sports bets, prop bets

Once you understand the odds and who the fighters are, there are several options for you to secure a bet and a potential win. 

Not only can you choose which fighter to win, but there is also the method and round of victory. A fight can either drag out or end in the blink of an eye. A fighter can win, lose or draw with his or her opponent. The bout can either be competitive, a brawl or a methodical affair. 

Below are the wagers that are popular in the combat sports betting community. 


The simplest — and therefore most popular — way to bet a match is to pick who will win, known as the “moneyline.” 

MORE: Boxing Schedule 2022: Date, division, location for upcoming fights

In MMA and pro wrestling, the moneyline options are as follows: 

  • Fighter A to win 
  • Fighter B to win

In boxing, the moneyline options are as follows: 

  • Fighter A to win 
  • Fighter B to win
  • Draw

Total Rounds + Round of victory

In MMA, a fight can last either three or five rounds. Five rounds is a main event-level bout. 

For boxing, depending on the level of a fighter, rounds can go from 6, 8, 10 or the championship level of 12. 

For some betting sites, you can bet on whether the fight will go the distance. A bout may end early because of the method of victory (more on that later). It is up to the fan to look into how they see the fight. That could be from stats or how the fighter has looked leading up to the bout. 

Method of victory

In MMA, the following methods of victory are on the table: 

  • Fighter A/B via KO/TKO
  • Fighter A/B via submission 
  • Fighter A/B via decision 
  • Draw

In boxing, the following methods of victory are on the table:

  • Fighter A/B via KO/TKO 
  • Fighter A/B via decision 
  • Draw

Combat sports betting tips

Anything can happen in the world of combat sports. All bets are off (literally and figuratively) when it comes to picking a fighter to win a contest. Preparation is key in order to fully immerse yourself in the combat betting world.  

Here are some tips to help the journey as you dive into combat sports betting:

1. Do the work/research 

A fight can end in multiple ways. Who gets their hands raised by the end of the night could depend on the trends, not just your gut. A fighter on a losing streak may either be due for a win, or the opponent may have a better chance at winning based on the stats they display (more on that later). A fighter may be popular because of their name, but comparing stats will be a much more legitimate process in determining a win. 

For example, one UFC fighter can have an edge when it comes to Significant Strikes Landed per Minute, but the other’s advantage on the ground could provide them with the ultimate edge. 

In the UFC, a fighter can have experience outside of the UFC’s octagon, but there may be a difference in size of the fight pit inside the cage. That is also the case within the UFC, as the UFC’s APEX Center in Las Vegas has a different size compared with PPV events. 

MORE: Current men’s boxing world champions: WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF full list

2. Check lineups and the injury report

If you set up a bet early on before fight night, keep an eye on the fighter(s) you decide to entrust. An injury can happen at any moment, from months in advance to the week of the fight. Normally, a notification can be sent as a warning. There will also be changes the day of fight night.

UFC 279 is the perfect example. Khamzat Chimaev missed weight for his fight against Nate Diaz. As a result, three fights changed on the main card. While the fighters are still available, the matchup changed, which can change the perception/betting odds on who will win. 

Boxers can pull out of fights if they hurt themselves training or if a weight cut ends poorly. The latter may not fully determine an outcome. Shakur Stevenson missed weight for a championship fight, but he still dominated against Robson Conceicao. 

In pro wrestling, the card is always subject to change.

Keep an eye on key programming and social media for updates on fights. 

3. Expect the unexpected

Anything can happen in combat sports and nothing is guaranteed. A favored fighter can win easily or they can be knocked out in the first round.

Using stats and a competitor’s emotions heading into fight night can help provide potential outcomes. 

Combat sports betting resources

The following are a few resources to use when attempting to bet on combat sports: 

Popular sportsbooks

While pro wrestling has a limit on the number of sportsbooks the sport is featured in, MMA and boxing do not. A variety of sportsbooks all over the U.S. and Canada can be helpful when it comes to searching for the correct bet. 

Be sure to check to see which sportsbook operates in your area.

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Where to bet on combat sports in the United States

The following states have legalized some form of sports betting in the United States. Full legality indicates that mobile betting and in-person wagering are both legal. 

U.S. State Legal Betting  
Arizona Full  
Arkansas Full  
Colorado Full  
Connecticut Full  
Delaware In-person only  
Illinois Full  
Indiana Full  
Iowa Full  
Kansas Full  
Louisiana Full  
Maine Full  
Maryland Full  
Michigan Full  
Mississippi In-person only  
Montana In-person only  
Nevada Full  
New Hampshire Full  
New Jersey Full  
New Mexico In-person only  
New York Full  
North Carolina In-person only  
Ohio Full  
Oregon Full  
Pennsylvania Full  
Rhode Island Full  
South Dakota Retail Sportsbooks  
Tennessee Online only  
Virginia Full  
Washington In-person only  
Wisconsin In-person only  
West Virginia Full  
Wyoming Online only  

Statistical resources

The term “do your research” always comes into play. That is especially true when it comes to combat sports. Whether it is the knockout or connect percentage of a competitor, the bettor must always know who has the edge before a bout and why.

While personal preference can come into play, that is not always how to secure a win.  

A few sites to use to guide you along the way include: 

Combat sports podcasts 

Consulting expert opinions and doing advanced research after can help enhance your instincts. A few expert shows to keep an eye:

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