How to Read MMA Odds
By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Rest assured that MMA betting odds are not that difficult to read. If you embark down the road of MMA wagering, you will find the difficult part is in winning over the longterm. That’s the part that is hard to master. The odds are actually fairly easy. Odds are expressed on the money line. The money line is simply a numerical expression of odds and is used prominently in MMA wagering.
When explaining money lines, the most difficult part of it is that most people are accustomed to odds expressed in a fractional form. We all grew up hearing of a favorite that was 10-to-1 or an underdog that was 8-to-1. Money lines express the same thing, but allow for more variance. Odds in any sport don’t usually fall on a whole number. A money line allows for more nuance and it very easy to understand.
Let’s look at an example:
Donald Cerrone -280 vs. Edson Barboza +240
Above, you see a matchup with odds listed for both fighters, as expressed on a money line. Cerrone is -280. He is the favorite. Any number listed with a minus-sign is a favorite. Barboza is +240. He is the underdog, as is anything where the odds are listed with a plus-sign. If you remember the following, you will understand money lines. Minus-any-number is how much you have to bet to win $100. Plus-any-number is what you receive in winnings if you bet $100. Applying that rule, you would need to bet $280 on Donald Cerrone at -280 to win $100. Meanwhile, a $100 bet on Barboza would yield $240 in winnings. Note that you don’t have to bet $100 or try to win $100. You could bet any amount and the odds would just break down proportionately.
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Again, the money line is just another way to express odds. If a fighter is a -700 favorite, that’s the same as a 7-to-1 favorite. If a fighter is a +300 underdog, that’s just like saying he’s a 3-to-1 underdog. If a fighter is a -250 favorite, he’s in between being a 2-to-1 and 3-to-1 favorite. Just remember that plus is an underdog and the number you see next to it is how much you win for every $100 you bet. A minus is a favorite and the number you see is how much you need to bet in order to win $100.
Not to belabor the point (it’s already too late), but mastery of the following 4 concepts will properly arm you to make standard bets in MMA:
1. Minus-sign means a favorite.
2. Plus-sign means an underdog.
3. When a favored fighter is minus (put in any number), that is how much you must bet in order to win $100
4. When an underdog fighter is plus (put in any number), that is how much you win if you bet $100.
Totals: For the more major fights, the sportsbook will offer a bet on the total--how long the fight will last. Next to the individual fighter odds, you will see a total--a forecasted number of rounds that the bookie thinks the fight will last. It will look like this:
Chael Sonnen +130 vs. Rashad Evans -150, Total: 3.5
Above is an example of a total, which is posted as 3.5 rounds. You have two choices. If you think the fight will not last 3.5 rounds, you bet “under.” If you think the fight will last more than 3.5 rounds, you would bet “over.” Avoid the mistake made by many bettors who didn’t understand the totals at first. The above fight, for example, has a total of 3.5 rounds. That means 3.5 completed rounds. It doesn’t mean midway through the 3rd round. The line in the sand for 3.5 would actually be at the 2:30 mark of the 4th round.
Prop Bets: You will see a lot of side bets, known as props, in some of the bigger fights. These won’t be offered for every fight. The odds are usually expressed in the money line, just as if you were betting on a fighter to just win the fight straight-up. Prop bets allow you to make more specific bets, like how a fighter will win a fight. Here’s an example:
Gegard Mousasi vs. Lyoto Machida Propositions
Mousasi/Machida will go the distance -125
Mousasi/Machida won’t go the distance -115
Mousasi wins inside the distance +550
Mousasi does not win inside the distance -1050
Mousasi wins by 5-round decision +305
Mousasi does not win a 5-round decision -425
Machida wins inside distance +200
Machida does not win inside distance -280
Machida wins by 5-round decision +175
Machida does not win by 5-round decision -245
Mousasi/Machida draw +10500
Fight is not a draw -31500
Above, you see a slew of prop bets. The money line is again used, illustrating how important it is to MMA betting. When betting on something rare, the money line can get quite big, like in the draw betting option listed above where a draw is listed at +10500 and no draw is -31500. +10500 is equivalent to a 105-to-1 underdog, with no draw being a 315-to-1 favorite at -31500. Whether betting on a fighter to simply win, betting on the total, or betting on propositions, it’s all about the money line. That’s how odds are expressed in MMA betting.