The MMA Betting Manifesto 2014: 7 Rules For Making Money Betting on MMA

Hey Bloody Elbowers,

  • I'm going to write this post as if gambling was legal everywhere so I don't have to keep saying it. Obviously obey your local laws etc...

Last year I bet on a lot of MMA fights 29 to be precise in the UFC and Bellator. I ended up going 24-5 and winning in excess of 4 grand. I did this with very little study time or preparation outside of discussing my opinions with my business partner and reading BE and other MMA sites. I also read that book Fightnomics and was like "eh, tell me something I don't know genius" but I will reference it in this post despite it's similarities to the work of Malcolm Gladwell(and that's not a compliment.) mostly because he did research to prove things I could tell just by betting on MMA and tracking my results. I mostly did it by creating and obeying some pretty simple rules for picking matches and exploiting the fact that bookies are behind the well informed MMA fan when it comes to setting lines. For example when Pat Curran fought Shabulat Shamahalev he was only a -140 favorite. Which is CRAZY! I made a two unit ($280) bet and picked up an easy 2 hundred bucks when Curran choked him out 2:38 into the first round. Bellator is really where the best money bets are right now, as it features fighters who aren't as known or good so lines are constantly off. I didn't bet on Emmanuel Newton the first time at +1400 but I did the second time at +250 and got a nice payday.

Rule # 1 of the manifesto: Lean towards lesser known promotions and lesser known fighters in big promotions. With the exception of matches that are almost pre-ordained due to a dominant champion like Cain VS whatever unlucky Heavyweight gets the next shot or Ronda vs any girl besides Cyborg, try to pick mid card fighters to get the best value for your bet. In all gambling theory (I play lots of poker and other games of chance and read everything I can on them) the idea is not to be right but to make the best decision given the information we have. If you can get a good line you should bet even if you're not sure the fighter will win. Place enough good bets and you will make money.

Next let's talk about the 3 types of matches to bet on. In my experience your best chance at winning is to bet on three different sort of matchups. I'll explain and give examples below:

1. Squash Matches. These are going to be VERY large favorites who almost certainly won't lose. Two good examples I bet and won with last year were Jon Jones Vs Chael Sonnen (Jones -600, yes the toe thing would have been a terrible loss and I would have cried) and Ronda Rousey Vs Liz Carmouche (Ronda -700, yes I was scared when Ronda gave her back and had to bite Carmouche to get out). These can be scary to bet on like when I took Jon Jones again over Gustaffsen at -600 and was rooting for a fighter I despise. But We bet with our wallets not our hearts.

Rule # 2: Don't bet on or avoid betting on fighters you like or dislike, just because you like or dislike them. Bet with your wallet not your fandom. If the line is good I'll bet on guys I hate like Urijah or Jon Jones. I mean I'll be LESS disappointed if they lose than other bets I lose but I still bet on the guys I don't like if the price is right.

2. Mispriced lines. Here's where we have a chance to make real money. My biggest win of the year was when I was in Vegas and Luke Rockhold opened as a -250 favorite over Vitor Belfort in Brazil. So for every dollar I bet on vitor I'd get two back. I couldn't get to enough sports books and I placed $ 600 at 3 different sports books and collected huge when Vitor wheelkicked Rockhold. Go TRT! Another good example is this weekend's fight between Jacare Souza and Francis Carmont. Carmont is a +400 underdog. While he will probably lose, a $ 50 dollar bet on Carmont (on an 11 fight win streak, 6-0 in the UFC) will get you $200 if he pulls off the upset which is great odds considering Jacare has been held against fences before by guys like Rockhold and Tim Kennedy. Another good example is when Chris Weidman was an underdog in the rematch against Anderson Silva. If anyone who won a fight is the underdog in the rematch jump on it as the guys who won the first fight win rematches at around 66% according to something I read somewhere, I'm too lazy to look it up but it was on a smart site.

3. Stand up dudes against gritty wrestlers. This is one of the best match-ups you can get. One of my favorite wins of all time came when Matt Brown was a +350 underdog against Jordan Mein. I was the only one I saw pick Brown leading up to the fight and I looked like Jonstradamus when Brown survived an early scare to put an ass whooping on Mein. You see this happen all the time and I'm not Coach Mir so I'm not here to preach on the importance of wrestling to MMA success. I'm here to tell you when I bet this kind of match up last year I went 9-2. Including John Howard over Uriah Hall, Francis Carmont over Costa Phillipou, and many many more. If you see this kind of match up and the lines are close bet the wrestler.

Ok so I talked about a few basic rules and things to look for, now let's talk about what to avoid when wagering on face punching.

3 Things To Avoid Like you're Clay Guida running away from Gray Maynard

1. Pick ems btw -105 and -200. These are close fights and as Joe Rogan will scream at you while wearing a plain black shirt "ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN WITH 4 OUNCE GLOVES MIKE!!!!" Close fights are frequent in the UFC most of the fights are close which is why we can make money when there's mispriced lines, favorites that aren't prohibitively expensive or good match ups. Which brings us to

Rule # 3: Never bet more than 2 fights per card. There's usually at least one good value bet on each UFC card, and usually 2 if you include the prelims. There's almost always two or three good bets on a Bellator card. So you never want to take anything other than the cream of the crop bets. Don't bet to emotionally hedge ( I did that with Urijah Faber VS Michael Mcdonald cause I'm the 1 person in the world who hates Urijah Faber.) or because "your guy" is fighting. Bet to make money period.

2. Fighters coming off more than a 9 month layoff. As much as Chris Weidman is "my guy" I bet against him when he first fought Anderson because he was coming off something like a 10 month layoff since demolishing Mark Munoz. I lost and also felt bad but the logic was sound. Cage Rust, nerves whatever it is unless the guy is a complete stud like Cain Velasquez or Weidman stay away. And even then there's probably a lot better bets on the card.

3. Fighters who are coming in on short notice. The whole "stay ready so you don't have to get ready" cliché really is nonsense as taking a fight on short notice ESPECIALLY less than a month of preparation is the biggest factor in whether or not a fighter wins or loses. Guys coming in on less than a month's notice lose almost 75% percent of the time. But don't believe me ask Urijah Faber or Michael Bisping both of whom have taken short notice big time fights and lost.

Rule # 4 Training camps matter. Not in the whole "I've had the best camp of my life" way but in terms of the time it takes to get into shape for a cage fight. When deciding to bet we want guys who had normal training camps not long layoffs or short notice fights.

4. Guys you can't trust. On Super Bowl weekend I had bet big on Barao in what I believed to be a squash match with Faber, and I was looking for another bet. I saw Allistair Overeem vs Frank Mir and didn't even give it a second thought. Why? With a tip of the hat to Eugene S. Robinson, Overeem is a guy I can't trust. I saw those two fights against Travis Browne and Bigfoot Silva. Ain't no way I'm trusting Allistair Overeem with 340 of my dollars. I wouldn't trust him to park my car. Come back and change is all missing and shit, radio 's probably changed to a bunch of weird Dutch Trance Music... Some guys just aren't good bets, because you never know what they're going to do, kinda like Phil Baroni or War Machine on Twitter.. Outside of Brazil I think Vitor Belfort is one of those guys. Jamie Varner is definitely one of those guys and I was feeling pretty stupid about not betting on him versus Trujillo until he went all Jamie Varner and lost. I'd even say Cowboy Cerrone is one of those guys as much as I like him. If a guy has an uneven track record stay away.

Rule # 5: Bet on reliable fighters, you don't want to bet on a guy like the recently retired Pat Barry who is either gonna finish or go out on his shield. Instead look for reliable guys who when they lose do so by decision. Or were finished by guys who went on to be contenders or champions.

Rule # 6: Camps matter. If two guys are equal but one of them trains at Tristar, Jackson's, Nova Uniao, Longo-Serra, or (shudder) Team Alpha Male give that guy the advantage. Unless It's a team Alpha Male guy in a title shot(sorry couldn't help it).

Rule # 7: Age Matters. Fightnomics wrote about this but it's pretty straight forward in cage fighting youth and athleticism are more valuable than age and experience. If you're not sure which way to lean, go with the younger guy it's a good idea.

That's going to wrap up my 7 Rules for making money on MMA. If you guys and gals like this kinda thing and I get a lot of comments and likes I'll make a video with my picks for this weekend and maybe even show you what I bet in my now accounts.



\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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