How does mma betting work

MMA Over/Unders

MMA Betting: Over-Unders

By Loot, Mixed Martial Arts Handicapper,

The over-under bet in MMA has picked up some steam in recent years. The sport of MMA is young and the gambling world has lagged behind, until not too long ago. In the 90’s, betting action was scarce. In the 2000’s, it became increasingly common to see betting lines for major MMA fights. Halfway through the decade, when the sport exploded, you started seeing a lot of bets offered on fights.

Now you are seeing more and more prop bets. The one that you see the most of is the over-under wager. With this bet, you are not concerned with who wins the fight. You only care about when it ends. The book comes up with a number–a rough estimation of when the fight will end. You then merely decide if the fight will go over or under that number. Sounds easy? Well, it is.

When picking whether the fight will go over or under, you will be presented with a money line. Over-under wagering on MMA works much like it does in boxing betting. In football betting, for example, both sides of the over-under have relatively even odds. In fighting sports, one side is usually a favorite, with some lines in the -300 range.

Let’s use an example: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva, Over 1.5 (+140)/Under 1.5 (-120). By looking at the line, you see that the under is the favorite, with the over being the underdog. It works like all money line wagers–the (+) sign, meaning underdog, indicating that’s how much you win if you bet $100. The (-) sign means favorite and indicates how much you must bet in order to win $100. If you liked the over, a $100 bet wins $140. If you liked the under, you would have needed to bet $120 to win $100.

Sometimes the over-under will be a round number. Easy enough. If the number is two, you know if the fight goes into the third round, it is “over.” But when the number falls on a half-number, it can be a little confusing for those who are new to betting on over-unders. If the total is 2.5, for example, you might think that means midway through the second round. But 2.5 means 2.5 completed rounds. Therefore, the magic line is midway through the third round. With 5-minute rounds, the halfway point of a round falls at 2:30.


In the case of corner retirements, the fight is considered to have ended at the end of the previous round. If after 2 rounds, a fighter either quits or the doctor or cornerman stops the fight, the bout is ruled a 2nd-round stoppage. Even if the bell rings for the beginning of the 3rd round and a fighter stays on his stool, it still gets registered as a 2nd-round stoppage.

Try to avoid over-obvious handicapping. If you see a fight between two guys who either win or lose fights quickly, the knee-jerk reaction is to pick the “under.” However, you know the bookie also sees what you have noticed. The bookie realizes that many people will fancy the “under.” It’s almost too obvious–two fighters who have a ton of early fights usually make for short affairs.

It boils down to value. When you create obvious handicapping observations, you can bet the value will be lousy. Imagine you want to bet on a fight involving two fighters whose fights usually go the distance. Naturally, you will think the fight will go to the scorecards. The bookie knows that is the way people will bet. So what does he do? He knows he needn’t make the “over” a particularly tantalizing bet, so he sets a tough line. He knows he needs to induce betting on the “under” since everyone will be looking to the “over.” In other words, when you find yourself siding with what seems like an obvious position to take, be careful. Chances are you are falling into the trap of accepting bad value. Over the long haul, that can really hurt your bottom line.

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