While staple of betting for the major sports, live betting is relatively new to MMA. While few books in the US offer live betting, it is one of the most valuable and profitable tools at your disposal.
In the United States, live betting for MMA is only offered in-between rounds, providing moneylines for both fighters, and odds on the fight going to decision. Live betting is an EXTREMELY profitable venture if you have a strong knowledge of MMA, and often times is a better option than betting fights before the event. There are several instances where this is the case, and I will break them down in this article.
Often times, you will find yourself with a lack of knowledge and available footage on a fighter. When this is the case, it is unwise to place a bet on either side of the bout. However, live betting provides you with several opportunities to pick up some action and make some money. By having the option to bet between rounds, you can get a feel for the fight and place your bet accordingly. While this option largely exists for the sake of action, there are several other scenarios that result in consistent +EV outcomes.
2. Fighters Who Fade
Live betting is ideal when dealing with a fighter who is known to be a fast starter and early finisher, but who is also known to gas out after a round or two. As a general rule for live betting, when a fighter is very visibly exhausted and facing a finisher, you should bet against them. For example, Max Holloway was a considerable underdog going into round 3 against an exhausted Jose Aldo at UFC 212. Steven Ray was as high as +600 going into round 3 against Joe Lauzon at the Swanson vs Lobov card. In both of these instances, and several more, these underdog fighters wound up taking advantage of their opponents exhaustion, and winning the fight.
This is an extremely valuable rule to employ when watching fights, but can also be integrated into your prefight betting strategy in an extremely profitable manner. As an example, we will use the upcoming UFC 213 main event of Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko.
Personally, my lean in this fight is Valentina Shevchenko, and I will break down the fight later this week. But even though Shevchenko is my lean, I do not advise betting her prefight. Amanda Nunes is the best first round fighter the division, and a good chance exists that she finishes this fight early. Additionally, a small chance exists that Shevchenko finishes this fight in the first round. Because of this, I believe that the best course of action is to bet Amanda Nunes winning ITD (or in rounds 1 and 2) prefight, and then begin live betting Shevchenko after round 1. This way, you protect yourself from the very plausible outcome of Nunes winning in the early rounds without losing any money on a Shevchenko bet, AND you will get Shevchenko at odds better than those available assuming she loses the first round.
This style of betting is proven to be profitable long-term, and provides you with several opportunities to minimize risk and increase profits. In addition to Shevchenko vs Nunes, this strategy can also be applied to the UFC 213 co-main event Yoel Romero vs Robert Whittaker, and possibly the TUF Finale main event of Justin Gaethje vs Michael Johnson. You would be surprised just how frequently this scenario presents itself.
Sometimes we make big bets prefight, and the fight winds up going nothing like the way we had predicted. It happens, and it's awful. BUT, the availability of live betting can make it slightly less awful.
If the fighter you bet on is outclassed in round 1 and behind on the scorecards, you can live bet on their opponent to buy out of your initial action and mitigate your losses, or even turn a profit. This is a great way to save yourself some money when you have an incorrect lean, and it spares you the horrible feeling of watching helplessly as your bet gets dominated.
4. Taking Advantage of Bad Lines
Because live betting is still relatively new to MMA, often times the lines are very exploitable. For example, the aforementioned line of Steven Ray being +600 going into round 3 against Joe Lauzon. While mistakes are not often this egregious, there will often be great value available. As a general rule, if you believe that a fighter is ahead in the fight, is not at risk of gassing horribly, and is at underdog odds, you should bet them. While you would think that this scenario would not present itself very often, you would be surprised.
On the last card alone (Fight Night: Chiesa vs Lee), this happened TWICE. After a strong round 1 against Erik Koch, Clay Guida was +180. After a commanding first round against Justine Kish, Felice Herrig's live odds opened at +160. In both of these instances, the underdog fighter was ahead on the scorecards, and went on to win the fight.
So as you can see, there are several reasons why live betting can be an MMA bettor's best friend, and you need to be aware of the above scenarios to use it responsibly. These scenarios present themselves all the time, and the upcoming UFC 213 card seems like an especially good one for live betting.