How to Bet: MMA

MMA stands for mixed martial arts, and it is a full combat sport where two fighters face off using different fighting styles and disciplines. The sport is based on the fighters who strike and grapple on the ground with the primary goal to win by knocking out the opponent, having them tap out in a submission hold, or winning by a judge’s decision. There are other ways for a fight to end, which will be touched on later. 

Howard Rosenberg first coined mixed martial arts in 1993 in reviewing UFC 1. UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship and is the most prominent MMA promotion organization in the world that puts on the biggest fights. 

MMA is hugely popular these days, mostly with the UFC, and many of the top MMA fighters of all time are in the UFC Hall of Fame. However, there are also many older fighters that mixed styles such as Bruce Lee. 

Online MMA 

MMA is one of the biggest betting sports globally, and most of the betting opportunities are for UFC fights. Most sportsbooks will have odds for all UFC events, and some have other MMA fights as well. When it comes to betting on bigger UFC fights, there are more betting markets such as prop betting and round betting. 

Rules and Gameplay 

In MMA, two fighters are pitted against each other, and the rules have changed significantly throughout the years. Much of MMA before the UFC was seen as ultra-violent, and it was even banned in some areas. 

The UFC had violence-related issues, but then they made stricter rules and worked with state commission guidelines. This led to more organized fights, and the popularity of MMA took off after they did so.

One of the first things to know in terms of the rules is the fighters' weight class. While this can change some depending on the organization the nine weight classes in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts are: 

  • Flyweight (up to 125 lb / 56.7 kg)
  • Bantamweight (up to 135 lb / 61.2 kg)
  • Featherweight (up to 145 lb / 65.8 kg)
  • Lightweight (up to 155 lb / 70.3 kg)
  • Welterweight (up to 170 lb / 77.1 kg)
  • Middleweight (up to 185 lb / 83.9 kg)
  • Light heavyweight (up to 205 lb / 93.0 kg)
  • Heavyweight (up to 265 lb / 120.2 kg)
  • Super heavyweight with no upper weight limit

Almost all of the MMA that promote fights, including the UFC, require their fighters to wear gloves with most professional fighters using four-ounce gloves. 

There are different ways in which a fight can end. There will either be a winner or a draw, which is a tie. Most of the rules for matches ending are uniform throughout MMA organizations. However, some have slightly different rules. 

Here are the ways that a fight can end by UFC rules: 

  • Submission – A fighter can submit or quit the match by either tapping the mat or verbally showing they are in pain, and then the referee ends the fight. If a fighter is significantly injured or is unconscious because of a hold, the referee can also stop the fight. 
  • Knockout – A fighter is knocked out by a legal strike. 
  • Technical Knockout – Simply referred to as a TKO. There are three kinds of TKO’s that a referee can call to end the fight: If the fighter can no longer defend themselves, the doctor at ringside deems the fight no longer safe due to injury, or if the fighters corner throws in the towel.
  • Judge’s Decision – If the fight goes all rounds, the judges will determine the winner by points. Here are the decisions the judges can rule: 
  1. Unanimous Decision – All three judges rule a winner. 
  2. Majority Decision – Two of the three judges deem a winner. 
  3. Split Decision – Two judges have a fighter winning while the other picks the opposing fighter as the winner. 
  4. Technical Decision – A fighter can no longer fight because of a non-intentional or illegal strike. The judges look at the completed rounds and those that were not completed to see if there is enough time to come up with a winner. 
  5. Unanimous Draw – All three of the judges in the fight render a draw. 
  6. Majority Draw – Two of the three judges render a draw while the other has a winning fighter. 
  7. Split Draw – All three judges have a different rendering with one having a draw, one having one fighter as the winner, and the other having the opposing fighter as the winner. 
  8. Technical Draw – Much like a technical decision, but the fight is a draw. 
  9. Disqualification (DQ) – A fighter makes an illegal move, and the referee sees the move as an offense that deems them to be disqualified.
  10. Forfeit – The fighter quits for the fight for any reason. 
  11. No Contest – A fighter cannot continue to make a non-intentional illegal move, and there were not enough rounds completed to determine a winner.

According to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, an MMA fight has to be held in a ring or fenced off area. The fences can be round or have at least six sides. For example, UFC fights are held in an octagon, and there are also MMA fights where cages surrounding the “ring” and those are called case fights. 

The conventional disciplines in MMA are stand-up, clinch, and ground. Here are some of the common styles: 

  • Stand-Up – Boxing, Karate, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Karate, Taekwondo, and Combat Sambo
  • Clinch - Judo, Catch Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, Luta Livre, and Sambo. 
  • Ground - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, and Catch wrestling. 

However, many fighters mix the styles hence the name mixed martial arts. Fighters use their strengths to strike the opponent, take them down to the ground, or clinch them to avoid getting hit. 

Strategy and Tactics 

There are many strategies and tactics for MMA fighters. They use their strength, the discipline they are the strongest in, to try to beat their opponent. However, at the same time, they look to stop the opponent’s strength. 

For example, an MMA fighter with a boxing style wants to stay upright and punch with the opponent, but if that opponent is better on the ground, their tactic will be to do anything to take them down. 

The strategy and tactics can also change in the course of a fight. For example, if a fighter is getting beaten on points, they may have to go for a knockout or a submission to get the win. That may not have been their tactic at the start of the fight. 

MMA Fighters will study their opponents before the fight to see their style and then come up with the best strategy to win.

Here are some common strategies in MMA: 

  • Sprawl and Brawl – A fighter attempts to stay upright and avoid getting taken down. 
  • Ground and Pound – A fighter attempts to take their opponent down, getting on top of them and repeatedly striking them. 
  • Clinch Fighting – A fighter continually clinches, grabs, opponent to keep them getting in a striking position. 
  • Submission Seeking – A fighter will attempt to take their opponent to the ground to put them in a submission hold so they will tap out of the fight. 

History of MMA 

Mixed martial arts can be dated back to ancient China in the no-holds-barred sport of Leitai. In Ancient Greece, there was also an MMA sport called pankration and was featured in the ancient Olympics in 648 BC. In that sport, fighters battled it out until they submitted. There are also references to MMA in ancient Japan, India, and Egypt.

Other forms of MMA took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries with savate, Catch wrestling, Bartitsu, and Sambo. Much of modern MMA has roots in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the vale tudo events in Brazil.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there were several high profile MMA fights such as judoka Masahiko Kimura against Brazilian jiu-jitsu founder Hélio Gracie, and catch wrestler Gene Lebell fought professional boxer Milo Savage. 

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, MMA rose in popularity in the West by Bruce Lee. He mixed styles and stated, "the best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt to any style, to be formless, to adopt an individual's style, and not following the system of styles.” 

Dana White is one of the founders and current president of the UFC, and in 2004 he stated that Lee was the "father of mixed martial arts."

In 1976 Muhammad Ali faced professional wrestler Antonio Inoki in a major fight in Tokyo. After each fighter refused to engage in their opponent’s style, the match ended in a draw after 15 rounds. Ali had to stay in the hospital for three days because of repeated leg strikes from Antonio. 

The UFC was formed in 1993, and the term MMA came about at UFC 1. Over the years, the UFC changed rules to make the sport safer and, in turn, led to a surge in popularity. The UFC became huge and ended by buying many rival MMA promotion companies such as Strikeforce and Pride. 

While the UFC is the biggest, by far, there are other MMA organizations:

  • Bellator MMA (USA)
  • Absolute Championship Berkut (Russia) 
  • Fight Nights Global (Russia) 
  • ONE Championship (Singapore) 
  • Rizin Fighting Federation (Japan) 

In the later part of the 20th century saw the emergence of women’s MMA, and there are now four weight classes for women in the UFC. 

Wall of Fame 

There is a UFC Hall of Fame, and many of the top MMA fighters of all time are inductees. The likes of Anderson Silva, Matt Hughes, Liddell, Couture, Georges St. Pierre, and Tito Ortiz. 

Bruce Lee is one of the innovators of MMA, but he rarely fought. Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov are still active and making a name as future legends. Ronda Rousey won the 2008 Olympic bronze medal and ended up being a major star in Strikeforce before moving to the UFC in 2012. 

You can check out all the inductees in the UFC Hall of Fame, which is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, by CLICKING HERE:

Distinctive Elements 

The most distinctive element in MMA is in the name itself, as fighters battle it out in mixed martial arts. It makes for excellent viewing seeing two fighters with different disciplines going at it. The different styles and strategies of the fighters make MMA very appealing to the public. The UFC is one of the top draws in the world these days with huge fights on pay-per-view.

MMA is huge around the world, with the UFC leading the way. However, as mentioned before, there are many MMA organizations the world over. 

While the sport has taken measures to make the fights less violent, violence in the sport is still prevalent. It is not uncommon for MMA fights to feature blood, and that is what many tune in to see. 


While there are statistics in MMA, they are not as scrutinized as much as in other sports. However, the big stat for fighters is their win/loss records and how many knockouts they have had. Still, there are quite a few fighter statistics. 

For UFC fighters, on, you can see many of them, such as significant strikes landed per minute, significant strike defense, takedown accuracy, and significant striking accuracy, to name a few. 

When you are looking to bet on the UFC or any MMA fight, you can look at the fighters' statistics to handicap the fight. Handicapping a fight gives you a better chance to win the bet, as you have more information on the contest and what is more likely to occur. 

Popularity and Cultural Impact 

MMA, especially the UFC, is extremely popular these days, and the stars of the sport are known worldwide. The more prominent names in the sport endorse products and companies. They also become involved in the community and with many charities.

Quite a few famous MMA fighters ended up throwing their hat in the entertainment ring, mainly television and film. For example, Randy Couture was featured in the Expendables films, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson played B.A. Baracus in the A-Team. 

Where can I bet on MMA?

Before registering into any sportstbook of your choice, you should check if it has a license to operate in your residing state. Get to know if it's legal, and which betting sites have a licence on each the US states.

About Ayden Fahlstrom
Ayden Fahlstrom author profile

Ayden loves sports. There is no doubt about that. He is a walking calendar when it comes to the latest events in sports. He has grown into the passion of writing about them, and settled into his role as a writer after many freelancing jobs. He can write about any sport out there! This is the guy!

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