How to Find MMA Underdogs Worth Backing

One of the best ways to win when betting on fighting is to find value in MMA underdogs. Favorites, by definition, win the majority of the time. However,  the payouts on their moneylines often overstate the likelihood that they will actually win. In this post, we identify how bettors can find the ideal underdog in mixed martial arts betting.

Key Points

– Never bet on random MMA underdogs. 

– Use the metrics available to determine any tendencies before betting on a fighter.

Finding Value in MMA Underdogs

According to estimates, underdogs in MMA fights win about 35% of the time. That means placing a wager on only underdogs is likely not a winning strategy. 

However, finding dogs that can actually pull upsets can be very rewarding. Plus, bettors don’t need to win even 50 percent of the time to come out ahead in order to build their bankroll

The analytics are the key to determining when to bet on an underdog and specifically which dog to back.

Examining a Fighter’s Career

Too often, novice bettors simply look at a fighter’s overall record without considering how they won and lost their individual matches or their career progression.

Bettors should ask and answer the following questions before haphazardly placing a bet on a fighter.

  • How many of their victories were consecutive?
  • How long did it take them to win a match on average?
  • How many times has a fighter competed in a calendar year?
  • Was a recent loss for a fighter on the scorecards, or was it a close loss?

You can find the answers you’re looking for at Sherdog, an MMA resource. Bettors can then determine a fighter’s overall skill level compared to his/her opponent. 


In-Fight Data

With all of the fight metrics available today, bettors should look over a fighter’s stats to learn more about tendencies. Similar to other sports, MMA now has a wealth of statistics that can be used to find tendencies.

Metrics like significant strikes landed and absorbed per minute, is one of the advanced stats bettors can use. There are websites that break down each fighter’s individual fights and give the bettor an overview of their most recent performances. This helps identify tendencies and can give a bettor an advantage.

When analyzing an underdog, key metrics like takedown attempts and success rates are crucial. What you are looking for is a matchup that favors an underdog’s fighting style.

MMA Underdogs Age

A lot of information has been gathered about how a fighter’s age can affect a fight. Studies have shown that a fighter typically reaches his/her peak in their late twenties to early thirties.

As fighters get older, their ability to take a punch also starts to decline. So does their speed, power, and agility. 

The analytics show that fighters between the ages of 36 and 38 are knocked out nearly twice as frequently as those between the ages of 22 and 23. 

This is why placing a wager on an experienced fighter with name value isn’t always the best course of action. In the latter stages of their careers, fighters like Anderson Silva and Chuck Liddell became much more vulnerable to knockouts.

Fighting Stance Is Important

Many professional gamblers think that a fighter’s stance—orthodox (right-handed) or southpaw (left-handed)—has a big impact on how the fight will turn out.

It should come as no surprise that the majority of UFC competitors are right-handed. However, a fighter may gain an advantage by fighting a southpaw. Southpaws are more successful, winning 53 percent of their fights.

Being fluid, however, has a greater benefit. Those who can switch from a southpaw to an orthodox stance successfully prevail at a 57 percent rate. This tactic is becoming much more common in MMA, so you should definitely think about it before placing a wager.

MMA Odds Are Fairly Accurate

Keep in mind that oddsmakers do their research and come up with pretty accurate odds on most fights. They monitor everything.

When odds are long, it’s because there is a reason.  Bettors are drawn in by the potential payout. Remember that the house is trying to entice you to place wagers on a fighter with no chance of actually winning. 

Don’t bet foolishly on an underdog. Sportsbooks aren’t perfect, but they are typically pretty accurate when it comes to establishing opening MMA odds. Choose wisely when it comes to MMA underdogs.

Mental Combat & MMA Underdogs

Press conferences and interviews are frequently used by fighters to gain insight into their opponents’ minds. Although not every fighter does this, it has become common practice for fighters to make a WWE-styled promo in an effort to distract his opponent. As a bettor, be aware of this because some fights are decided long before the competitors step inside the ring.

A fighter must maintain composure at all times if they want to compete at the top of their game. Fighters who lose their composure or fight out of emotion often stray from their game plan. That can be costly.  Trash talking before a fight has its place. Be sure to understand the whole mental battle that goes on between two fighters.