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Betting 3 Round Fights

MMA Betting: The Danger of Betting on 3-Round Fights

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

In MMA wagering, there will be a lot of 3-round fights. It raises the importance of having capable judges. Most of them are. The margin for error is so small in a 3-round fight that any slip-up from the judges can lead to an incorrect result. Most fights we bet on in the sport of boxing are 12-rounders, where a poorly-scored round might not have such a detrimental role. A 3-rounder in MMA cannot absorb the same amount of human error.

You see a lot of bad decisions in fights where one fighter starts strong, dominating the first round. He begins dominating the second round, as well, but late in the round, the opponent comes back. He’s been getting his butt kicked, thats when he springs to life, it registers strongly in the minds of the judges--who may go ahead and give him that round. With the momentum in his corner, the fighter who was being dominated manages to edge the third round. And he wins the decision. Ugh.

It happens all the time and such is the treachery that awaits the MMA bettor. MMA is not a sport that is very forgiving to officiating miscues. All it takes in MMA is for a judge to make one mistake and fighters see their careers altered irreparably. There will be one round where it’s kind of close, but there is a clear winner. But when the other fighter finishes strongly, that’s the last impression in the minds of the arbiters and they vote for him.

In boxing, there is a problem with this same thing--fighters “stealing” rounds by dominating only the final part of it. That’s with 3 minutes rounds. If judges can’t even keep the beginning of a 3-minute round fresh in their heads, what chance does MMA have with a 5-minute round? Many times, a fighter’s best work comes in the front-end of a round and he ends up losing the fight because two judges scored that one round incorrectly.


When betting on any sport, iffy officiating can spoil our wager. Boxing bettors have lost countless wagers on rotten decisions. MMA is actually surprisingly strong in this area, considering the reduced number of rounds. There have been some stinkers, of course, but the sport lacks the corrupt vibe or inept judging that boxing has always possessed. At the same time, when we bet on any sport, there is the human element at play. It’s just tougher with MMA, where the whole result is turned on its head from an inattentive judgement call. Other sports can better absorb a bad call. In a 3-round MMA fight, there is no room for officiating mistakes.

You see many favorites in this sport as the beneficiaries of these types of decisions. Favorites are usually the more popular fighter and the ones with the most to lose. The judges seem to be carrying with them an almost-unconscious perspective that the other fighter can better absorb a loss at this point. Maybe he’s younger or perhaps the favorite has a lot to lose if he’s defeated, like a title shot. It just seems like it’s a little harder to beat a favorite when the fight comes down to basically one disputed round out of three.

MMA is a fight of rising popularity, where every facet of the sport has improved. The judging seems to be lagging behind, however. There are no real parameters. In a sport with such wide-ranging possible techniques and overall approaches, that is a problem. And all it takes in a 3-round fight is for there to be one round messed up by the judges. Just one.

In a 3-rounder, fights often come down to one round. Ray Charles could have scored the other 2 rounds, which a fighter won dominantly. There will be one round where the judges’ interpretation of that 5 minutes will be the deciding factor of the fight and our wager. There aren’t many sports where judges have to render a decision on something that happened 5 minutes ago. A guy can land a few good punches to open a round and by the time the round is over, it’s completely forgotten. In any event, this is something we need to be cognizant of when we’re betting. When we see the wrong fighter get a 29-28 decision, we can only be so surprised.

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