Fan Questions | Martial Arts History

How Do UFC Betting Odds Work?

So chances are that if you landed on this page, you’ve recently become a UFC fan, and you now want to put your money to work. Or perhaps you’ve seen +145 or -200 beside a fighter’s name, and were wondering what those numbers meant. Well, whatever the reason, you’re in the right place my friend.

In this post, I going to cover everything there is to know about the odds, and what they mean for UFC fights. How do UFC odds work?

In short, the odds work by first showing if the fighter is a favorite (-) or underdog (+). The number for an underdog shows how much money you win if you were to bet $100 on that fighter. The number by a favorite shows how much money you would have to bet to win $100.

This might be a bit confusing at first, but don’t worry. In the rest of this post, I’ll go into more detail on how much money you would stand to make in different examples, and how to place bets to maximize your wins.

What Exactly Do The Odds Mean?

So basically, the odds are intended to show which fighter is more likely to win the fight. The fighter most likely to win is called the favorite, while the fighter unlikely to win is called the underdog.

Bisping (right) closed as a +425 underdog on Bovada for his second fight with Rockhold, since Rockhold had already beaten him once before.
Bisping (right) closed as a +425 underdog on Bovada for his second fight with Rockhold, since Rockhold had already beaten him once before.

As already mentioned, the favorite is marked with a -, and the underdog is marked with a +. The numbers beside them correlate to the payout when you bet on that fighter, something I’ll talk about in more detail later.

But basically what these numbers are trying to decide, is how competitive this fight will be. If the number for the underdog is very high, for example, +600, then that means there is a very small chance that they win the fight.

Likewise, if the number for the favorite is -600, then there is a very high chance that they will win the fight.

While the odds are intended to show the competitiveness of a fight, this is not always the case. This is because the odds are partly decided by the bookies, the people who take the bets.

The odds for McGregor (+150) vs Khabib (-170) were based on the threat Khabib posed as a wrestler, as well as his undefeated record.
The odds for McGregor (+150) vs Khabib (-170) were based on the threat Khabib posed as a wrestler, as well as his undefeated record.

The odds change as more people bet on a certain fighter, which is intended to show that that fighter is more likely to win. However, odds may be skewed from the actual competitiveness of a fight, based on these bets.

A perfect example of this occurred when Conor McGregor made his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather in 2017. Boxing pundits widely agreed that there was no chance McGregor could win the match, and rightfully wrote the odds at Mayweather the -2500 favorite, and McGregor the +1100 underdog.

However, McGregor fans were betting for McGregor in a frenzy, so much so that they pushed the odds into what seemed like a more competitive match. By the time fight week came around, the odds were Mayweather -475, McGregor +375!

Despite experts predicting McGregor had no chance of winning, fans pushed McGregor's odds of winning from 8.3% (+1100) to 21.1% (+375)!
Despite experts predicting McGregor had no chance of winning, fans pushed McGregor’s odds of winning from 8.3% (+1100) to 21.1% (+375)!

Nothing changed in terms of how competitive the matchup would be. The only thing that changed was the number of bets placed, forcing bookies to charge more for bets on McGregor, and charge less for bets on Mayweather. And as we all know, the original odds were more than justified after how the fight turned out.

How The Odds Work (How Much Will I Win?)

So now you know what the odds are supposed to represent, but how exactly do they work? Let’s talk about how much money you would make on some bets.

First, I’ll explain how the numbers for the underdog or favorite correlate to your potential payout. Let’s start with the favorite.

Favorite (-)

So as you know, the favorite is represented by a minus sign and a number (let’s say -200 in this case). Because the favorite is more likely to win, you stand to make less money than on an underdog.

The number that a favorite is represented by indicates how much money you would have to bet, in order to receive a payout of $100. So in this case, our fighter is at -200. This means you would have to bet $200, in order to win $100 when they win.

Due to his undefeated record, it usually makes sense for oddsmakers to put him as the favorite.
Due to Khabib’s undefeated record, it usually makes sense for oddsmakers to put him as the favorite.

Also, I want to note that the odds start at 100. So when the odds are at 100, they are simply referred to as even, meaning that there is an exact 50% chance that the fighter wins, and your payout would just be double what your bet was.

Ok, so here’s how you calculate your payout for a bet on the favorite.

Step 1

First, take the odds of the favorite, and divide it by 100 to get your divisor. So if the odds are -200, you get 2.00. If the odds are -145, you get 1.45.

Step 2

You with me so far? Good. Now, take the amount of money you want to bet, and divide it by the result you got in the last step.

Let’s say you want to bet $15. Let’s say the odds are -145. So, your divisor should be 1.45. So here’s what that math looks like:

$15 / 1.45 = $10.34

So your profit on this bet would be $10.34, plus the $15 you initially placed the bet with, meaning your bookie should return you a total of $25.34.

Let’s take another quick example. Let’s say the odds are -275, and you again bet $15. Here’s the resulting math:

$15 / 2.75 = $5.45

Because the favorite was more likely to win at -275, the payoff was not as good as the -145 one from before. Your profit is $5.45, plus the initial $15, meaning your bookie owes you $20.45.

Now let’s look at how much you make when you bet on an underdog.

Underdog (+)

When you place a bet on an underdog, you (correctly) expect to have a better payoff if they win, as their chances of winning are less than the favorite. As mentioned, the underdog is represented by a plus sign, and a number (for example, +200).

Because CM Punk had never had an MMA fight, he was set as the +300 underdog in his debut against Mickey Gall.
Because CM Punk had never had an MMA fight, he was set as the +300 underdog in his debut against Mickey Gall.

In the case of an underdog, the number notes the amount of profit you stand to make from the bet when you place a $100 bet. So for a +200 underdog, if you bet $100, you win $200.

Here’s how you calculate your payout on an underdog bet.

Step 1

Similar to before, we take the underdog odds, and divide them by 100. So if the odds are +145, we get 1.45.

Step 2

Here, instead of dividing, the result we got from Step 1 is a multiplier. So take the amount of your bet, and multiply it by the result in Step 1 to get the profit.

For example, if we have odds of +145, and a bet of $15, here’s what the math would look like:

$15 * 1.45 = $21.75

So your profit is $21.75. When we add the initial $15 you placed the bet with, you get back a total of $36.75.

Let’s look at another example, where you again bet $15, but the odds are now +275. We get:

$15 * 2.75 = $41.25

Your profit for this bet is $41.25! Now you might understand how much better the payoff for an underdog is than for a favorite. Adding the initial $15 bet, the bookie owes you a total of $55.25.

Finding The Best Odds

Alright, so now you understand how the odds work, and you want to start betting. But where do you start?

There are many online betting sites that you can use to bet on UFC fights. I personally use Bovada, and they’ve been alright. Their website can be slow at times, but I suppose that’s expected with most sites (although I wouldn’t know, as I’ve only ever used Bovada).

This is what Bovada's site looks like once logged in, which I like for its simplicity and ease of use.
This is what Bovada’s site looks like once logged in, which I like for its simplicity and ease of use.

I’m not affiliated with Bovada in any way, but regardless, feel free to use any betting site you wish. Many bettors open accounts with many different betting sites. Why?

Well simply put, every site offers different odds on the same fight. If you have an account on multiple sites, you can find the site that has the best odds, and place a bet with them, maximizing your profits.

If you take a look at BestFightOdds.com, you’ll find that it’s a great resource for comparing odds across different sites.

The site shows the odds for a fighter in each different column, with the corresponding betting site listed at the top. The fighters are shown in rows, and are listed on the left side. The odds highlighted in red are the best odds for that fighter.

The site makes it pretty easy to find the best odds, and I recommend it if you are considering doing some serious betting.

That’s pretty much it for this post. I appreciate you sticking around to the end. Here’s a quick summary.

In short, the UFC odds work by showing you how much money you make on a favorite (-) or an underdog (+). If the fighter is a +200 underdog, you make $200 on a $100 bet. However, if they are a -200 favorite, you only make $50 on that $100 bet.

I hope this post helped you learn how to read the betting odds for UFC fights. If you enjoyed this post, please consider checking out similar ones on the Martial Arts History page. Thanks for reading!