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UFC Betting Trends You Need to Know

Updated February 23rd, 2021
Published February 12, 2021

Sports betting is deeply ingrained within the culture of the UFC. There’s heavy betting action on every card, and you can find an edge every time the lines move.

Digging through fighter records, previous odds and actual outcomes, and other patterns is a time-consuming process, but it’s well worth the effort. Finding even the smallest tidbit of information can give you the advantage you need to beat the sportsbooks.

We’ve done some of the heavy lifting by compiling a list of some interesting UFC betting trends that should help inform your wagering strategy.

Remember, these trends aren’t a sure-fire bet, but they’re certainly worth paying attention to. These trends might be the deciding factor if you’re on the fence about making a particular bet.

It’s time we have a look at the top UFC betting trends you need to know.

1) UFC Underdog Champions Defend Their Titles

There’s been over 250 UFC title fights, and out of all those bouts, only 18 reigning champions have attempted to defend their belts as underdogs.

Champions are almost always the favorite going into title fights, and it takes a mighty contender to move the betting odds in their favor.

You might think that underdog champions inevitably lose their belts, but this is simply not the case. Out of the 18 underdog champions in UFC history, 12 of them have gone on to win and retain their titles.

UFC legend Frankie Edgar is the only fighter to have done it twice.

The underdogs who go on to win their title haven’t had particularly long odds. The total units gained from these dogs isn’t huge, but their success is something to keep in mind should you see one defending their title.

Here’s a full list of the 18 underdog champions, along with the winner and loser of each fight:

Event Underdog Champion Favorited Challenger Winner
UFC 238 Henry Cejudo Marlon Moraes Cejudo
UFC 223 Rose Namajunas Joanna Jedrzejczyk Namajunas
UFC 220 Stipe Miocic Francis Ngannou Miocic
UFC 215 Amanda Nunes Valentina Shevchenko Nunes
UFC 214 Daniel Cormier Jon Jones Jones*
UFC 210 Daniel Cormier Anthony Johnson Cormier
UFC 209 Tyron Woodley Stephen Thompson Woodley
UFC 207 Amanda Nunes Ronda Rousey Nunes
UFC 205 Eddie Alvarez Conor McGregor McGregor
UFC 205 Tyron Woodley Stephen Thompson Draw
UFC 189 Robbie Lawler Rory McDonald Lawler
UFC 168 Chris Weidman Anderson Silva Weidman
UFC 164 Benson Henderson Anthony Pettis Pettis
UFC 125 Frankie Edgar Gray Maynard Edgar
UFC 118 Frankie Edgar BJ Penn Edgar
UFC 98 Rashad Evans Lyoto Machida Machida
UFC 83 Matt Serra Georges St-Pierre St-Pierre
UFC 61 Tim Sylvia Andrei Arlovski Sylvia

*Indicates result that was later ruled a no-contest

When you add everything up, the underdog champions have defended their belts 66% of the time. If you happen to see an underdog champion in the future, don’t count them out. It might even be worth putting some money on the line!

2) The Over is a Lock in the Women’s Bantamweight Division

There’s no absolute certainty when it comes to sports betting, but wagering the over in the women’s bantamweight division is the closest thing you can get to a lock.

Since 2020, fights in this division have gone over 1.5 rounds 22/23 times. That’s good for a winning percentage of 95.7% and a total of +7.95 units in profit.

The only women’s bantamweight fight to hit the under since 2020 was Julia Avila vs. Gina Mazany. Avila won the fight by TKO at 22 seconds of the very first round.

One thing to note is bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes didn’t defend her title in 2020. Of her 28 fights, 14 have ended in the first round (good for 50%), so keep that in mind if you see her fighting in 2021 – it’s probably best to bet the under in that case!

The prevalence of successful over bets in this division means you don’t want to make a prop bet on an early KO or submission. Check out our guide to UFC prop bets if you want to know more about these specific wagers.

3) Rematches Typically Play Out the Same as the First Fight

Rematches are some of the most exciting fights in the UFC. There’s always a storyline between two fighters going into their second fight, as tensions run high between the familiar combatants.

Still, you want to be smart if you’re handicapping a rematch, and the statistics say sequels usually play out the same way as the first fight. Winners of the first fight are 49-24 overall in rematches, so while it might not be a sure-fire bet, it’s worth noting that rematches go the same way 67% of the time.

Some fighters have multiple rematches on their records, but there’s no real notable trends for these fighters. Take Conor McGregor for example; he lost his first fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 196, but ended up winning the rematch at UFC 202.

On the flip side, McGregor beat Dustin Poirier at UFC 178 but lost their rematch at UFC 257. These results are included in the 49-24 figures listed above, but it’s interesting to note that a fighter of McGregor’s caliber has won and lost rematches.

You just never really know what’s going to happen in MMA, which is why you should bet with caution, even for rematches. Still, it’s worth remembering that the first-fight winner usually comes out on top the second time.

4) Champs Win Another Belt When They Move Up in Weight

Conor McGregor became the UFC’s first “double champ” when he moved up a weight class and defeated Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight championship at UFC 205. McGregor cemented his place in combat sports history as the first fighter to hold UFC belts in two divisions simultaneously.

Since then, four more fighters have attempted to win a second belt, and three of them have succeeded:

  • Daniel Cormier – reigning light heavyweight champion defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 for the heavyweight title
  • Amanda Nunes – reigning women’s bantamweight champion defeated Cris Cyborg at UFC 232 for the women’s featherweight title
  • Henry Cejudo – reigning flyweight champion defeated Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 for the bantamweight title

T.J. Dillashaw is currently the only fighter to fail in his quest for a second belt. Dillashaw attempted to move down from bantamweight to flyweight, but Henry Cejudo had other plans, as he stopped Dillashaw by TKO in their 2019 fight.

It’s worth noting that Max Holloway lost when he moved up in weight to fight Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight championship at UFC 236. We won’t factor that loss into this trend, as Poirier was ultimately unable to unify the championship against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Four out of five fighters have become double champs, and the only one who couldn’t pull it off was the only fighter to attempt moving down in weight classes. This might be something to remember for future fights.

In fact, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is moving up in weight to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight belt at UFC 259 on March 6, 2021. Even though it’s a small sample size, you might want to consider that 100% of the fighters moving up in weight have won a second belt.

5) Looking for a Favorite? Try the Men’s Flyweight Division

People like betting on a favorite because it feels like guaranteed money. Sure, the payouts aren’t as good for betting on a favorite, but many bettors feel confident putting their money on a fighter who’s expected to win.

The problem with betting the favorite in the UFC is the sport is extremely unpredictable. The best fighters can get clipped by a punch and go down, even when they’re heavily favored.

The statistics say the men’s flyweight division is your best shot at winning money on a favorite.

Since 2020, favorites in this division have a 24-6-1 record, good for a winning percentage of 77.4%. There are fewer total fights in the flyweight division than other weight classes, so the numbers could be somewhat skewed, but 77.4% of the favorites coming out on top is hard to ignore.

Flyweight champions have been pretty dominant, so you can feel comfortable making a bet on a favorited titleholder in this division. Former champion Demetrious Johnson defended his belt 11 consecutive times. The man who beat him, Henry Cejudo, only lost his belt because he relinquished it to focus on bantamweight contenders. And finally, reigning champion Deiveson Figueiredo hasn’t lost a fight in his last six contests.

If you’re looking for a safe-money bet, you can’t go wrong with the men’s flyweight division. For some expanded UFC betting knowledge, check out our guide on how to bet on UFC fights.

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Thanks for reading, and remember, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

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