By the Numbers: 2014 in MMA Betting — Who Wins, and Where?

Another year has come and gone in the world of MMA, and now is the perfect time to take a look back at 2014 from a unique perspective: the MMA bettor. The gambling side of this sport has definitely expanded over the past twelve months. No longer is MMA betting something only discussed by a tiny subsection of the sport’s populace. Betting odds are now shown during UFC fighter introductions, discussed liberally by some commentators, written about on major media outlets, and the UFC even has a sportsbook as one of its sponsors. For us at MMAOddsBreaker.com, hopefully that trend continues in 2015, bringing more notoriety to the betting side of the sport and the hard-working team that brings you unparalleled analysis into the wagering ways of MMA. Speaking of hard work, Nick Kalikas of MMAOddsBreaker opened the vast majority of the betting lines for the 902 bouts that were available for wager on 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look at the graphic below for the gist of how those fights broke down.  

2014 Totals

  The numbers have seen a statistically significant jump since this same topic was tackled back in July. Favorites had only won at a 67.54% clip at that point, so the second half of the year has been kind to the minus sign. Compared to previous years, favorites have seen increased success in terms of the percentage of bouts they have won. Last year I didn’t compile the full betting results for promotions outside of the UFC and Bellator, but each of those promotions was previously in the 68% range. Looking a bit more in depth at these numbers shows that, as expected, the UFC put on by far the most lined fights in 2014. Their record 503-fight calendar represented 55.76% of the total betting lines over the year. Predictably, Bellator hosted the second-most bouts with betting odds at 122. In a bit of a surprise, Cage Warriors, not WSOF or Titan, had the third most. The following graphic shows a breakdown of favorite and underdog victories by promotion, in order of most to least fights.

2014 Favourites and Underdogs

The first note is that the UFC numbers are very close to the total numbers. This is to be expected given the number of odds posted for the UFC as opposed to other promotions. They set the bar for everyone else. Interestingly, only three other promotions see their breakdown of favorite and underdog victories fall within 5% of the overall numbers. One of those organizations is Finnish company ‘Cage’ and they only had seven bouts with odds offered, so that is more blind luck than anything. The other two are Bellator and Legacy FC, which both saw favorites get their hand raised about 3% higher than the average. A few promotions see favorites enjoy an extremely high rate of victory. World Series of Fighting, ONE FC, and Titan FC see the fewest upsets of any MMA promotions, as just 16 of 93 combined bouts in those promotions went to the betting underdog. Moving into 2015, it could be something to keep in mind if you plan on betting those organizations’ events. On the opposite end of the spectrum, RFA, Cage Warriors and Invicta boast some healthy upset rates, ranging from 38.5-44.4%. Trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, it makes sense that the former two promotions would see a lot of upsets, as their matchmaking generally results in fairly tight betting lines (RFA in particular had just one underdog close above +300 all year). Invicta is the anomaly here, as they had one of the highest rates of steep odds, and yet still managed a significant percentage of upsets. I’ll follow up on this with an article on the nuances of women’s MMA betting. That does it for our look at the basic betting numbers from 2014. Next up will be a look at how accurate oddsmakers were over the past year, and where there could be some value moving forward for different types of bettors.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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