UFC Betting in PA
Since the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship event in November 1993, the influence of MMA and the UFC brand has become nearly universal. It’s now a fixture of mainstream sports coverage and has spread into training gyms, fitness programs and huge monthly PPV events that command millions of viewers.
The legalization of sports betting in several US states, including Pennsylvania, is yet another lift that has boosted the profile of MMA — and the UFC in particular — to epic heights. Scroll down for our complete guide to betting on UFC online in PA, including the best apps, bonuses and UFC betting tips.
Best UFC betting sites in Pennsylvania
Top 3 UFC betting apps
Sports betting in Pennsylvania was legalized in 2017 and was first made available through a betting app in May 2019, when SugarHouse sportsbook went live. By the end of 2019, eight PA sportsbook apps were available. The menu has continued to grow from there. Following an independent review, PlayPA listed the following PA-legal betting apps as the top three available to state residents:
1. DraftKings Sportsbook — $50 free, up to $1,000 bonuses
DraftKings is best known as one of the two biggest online fantasy sports providers.
Over the past several years, it has expanded into sports betting and now has online sportsbooks and apps in several states including PA.
Among the DraftKings app’s defining features is Flash Bet, which launched in summer 2019.
Winning in-game bets placed during a certain period on a particular event are paid out instantly.
The app provides live stats, and you can make new bets or review existing ones simultaneously.
2. FanDuel Sportsbook — up to $1,000 risk-free bet
FanDuel is the other “twin peak” of PA sports betting right now and has very competitive moneyline prices on UFC pay-per-view editions and other MMA events.
The app for iPhone or Android is noted for its slick interface, and the generous $1,000 free bet available to new users is excellent value.
The amount that would normally be lost under “risk-free bet” conditions is paid out as betting credit that can only be used on the FanDuel sportsbook or betting app. Any winning bets placed using the credit return only the winnings, without the stake.
The FanDuel sports betting app can be accessed in any state for download/depositing funds and used for betting in PA.
3. FOX Bet — up to $50 bonus
Proving that it can boast the same superlative quality provided by the other two main PA-legal sportsbooks, FOX Bet entered the market in May 2020.
Users of FOX Bet can get a bonus of up to $50, though a deposit is required to obtain this. To claim your risk-free bet, go to the promotions tab, click on the FIRST BET ON US risk-free promo, register your account, click “View challenges” and opt-in within 7 days of registration. Make sure you place your first bet within a week!
How to read UFC betting odds
Although bookmakers can occasionally come up with very specific win conditions, usually as part of a special promotion or odds boost, there are a number of standard UFC betting markets that are both popular and easy to negotiate.
This is a bet on one fighter to win by any means. In UFC fights, there will always be a favorite and an underdog. The odds in favor of a favorite are denoted by a figure lower than -100, which converts into an implied win probability of greater than 50.0%.
Meanwhile, the odds against an underdog show up as a figure greater than +100, for an implied probability of less than 50.0%. Using the moneyline odds for UFC 249’s main event (Ferguson vs. Gaethje) as an example, Tony Ferguson had a price of -175 in favor of his win (an implied probability of 63.6%), while Justin Gaethje was priced at +163 (an IP of 38.0%). Their respective payouts, from a $10 wager, would be as follows:
- Ferguson: $15.71 (profit: $5.71)
- Gaethje: $26.30 (profit: $16.30)
To ‘go the distance’
Going the distance means that the fight reaches the end of its allotted number of rounds without a clear winner by KO, TKO, submission or corner/doctor stoppage. The fight is then settled via judges’ decision.
For this market, a bettor usually backs “yes” or “no,” but there may be opportunities to back whether (if choosing “yes”) the decision will be split, majority or unanimous.
UFC round betting markets
Over/under 𝑥 rounds
UFC bouts last three to five rounds. In this market, bettors guess whether a fight will go more than a certain number of rounds. Bets on first-round knockouts, submissions or stoppages are particularly popular when outsiders have significant odds against them (+500 or greater)
To end in round 𝑥 / to end between rounds 𝑥 and y
Bettors can also back a fight to end in a specific round, or to end in a range of rounds. For example, in the latter market, bettors can instead state that the fight will end in either rounds 1-2, or between rounds 1-3. There may even be the possibility of backing the fight to end in an odd (1,3,5) or even-numbered (2,4) round.
Winning methods in UFC betting
Those placing a UFC wager can back a fight to end via a certain method. Though distinguished as different specific results on a fighter’s record, KO (knockout) and TKO (technical knockout) are treated the same in UFC wagering, unless it is specifically stated otherwise.
In practice, fights decided by KO are ones that end emphatically, as the victor strikes with enough force to send the opponent crashing to the floor. In a situation where both combatants are standing, punching, kicking, elbow strikes or knee strikes are the only legitimate means of scoring a knockout.
Whether or not the downed opponent actually loses consciousness in the process, a clear incapacitation means that the result is a knockout.
A TKO is different in that the referee sees fit to stop the fight, while legitimate blows from the attacker are being dealt in such a way that potentially endangers the defending combatant’s health.
Practically speaking, a common cause of TKO results is when the fighters are grappling on the floor, and the attacking fighter penetrates the guard of the defender with quick, repeated blows that render the defending fighter unable to protect against the attacker.
KOs and TKOs are a particularly common win method for specialists of muay thai, boxing, kickboxing, savate, taekwondo and karate.
To win by submission, the attacker must use a legitimate lock or hold and force the defender to voluntarily tap the floor or any part of the attacker’s body. This is informally known as a “tap out,” and is the signal used by the defender to show concession.
In addition to being traditionally favored by fighters with a background in Brazilian jiujitsu, submissions are a frequent win method for practitioners of wrestling, judo and Aikido.
Unless otherwise stated, each type of decision is treated as the same result in win method markets for UFC bouts. In spread betting, there may also be an opportunity to back one fighter to win by over/under a certain number of points.
A split decision (SD) sees two judges declare one fighter the winner, while another has the other fighter as the winner. A majority decision (MD) involves two judges declaring a clear winner while the other marks the fight as a draw.
Unsurprisingly, a unanimous decision (UD) sees all of the judges pick the same winner, or score the fight as a draw.
UFC live betting
PA-legal bookmakers can make it possible for users to place bets during the fight. The main perk of this is that odds can shorten or lengthen with a particularly telling blow or a cut, or even a points deduction.
Take, for instance, this hypothetical scenario, which shows just how easily prices — and potential payouts — can shift (or “evolve”) in live betting markets:
Conor McGregor (priced at +135) is challenging Khabib Nurmagomedov (-155) for the lightweight championship.
The first two rounds are evenly fought, but McGregor sustains a cut to his eye, which lengthens his odds to +270, and shortens Nurmagomedov’s win price to -120.
At the same time, “John” places a $10 “live bet” on McGregor to win the fight. McGregor’s cut is cleaned and stitched, and the fight goes the distance. However, Nurmagomedov loses a point for headbutting McGregor during a clinch in the final round.
Because the fight has been so close, this point deduction causes the odds to shift wildly, with McGregor immediately going from the +270 outsider to a -200 favorite.
“Paul” places a $10 bet on McGregor to win after the points deduction and price shift. The fight goes to a judges’ decision, and McGregor wins via SD by a single point.
As a result, John wins $37 ($27 profit), whereas Paul wins just $15 ($5 profit).
Parlay betting on UFC events
A parlay bet is one that has several stipulations that must be met for an enhanced potential payout. An example would be: “Ferguson to win via stoppage between rounds 4-5.” This would command far greater odds than simply “Ferguson to win.”
It should be noted that this differs from a multiple bet, where the bettor combines different results on the same slip, or the bookmaker does likewise as part of a special enhanced odds offer or “expert tips” feature.
Hedging bets on UFC events
In addition to benefiting from evolving odds, users can also hedge their bets during UFC events. In the main, “hedging” can refer to two methods, one of which is geared toward avoiding unnecessary loss, while the other is more about personal insurance.
To avoid loss, a bettor might back one sure favorite to win in fight no. 1, and use the profit gained to back a rank outsider in a later fight. At worst, the bettor merely breaks even at the end of the second fight if the bet loses.
Alternatively, users can hedge their bets by backing both combatants, but wagering different amounts to minimize potential loss. Take, for instance, the following scenario:
Ryan Spann is a massive -400 favorite (IP of 80%) to beat Sam Alvey (priced at +350).
“Jane” places the following wagers:
- $2 on Alvey to win (for $9 return — $7 potential profit)
- $6 on Spann to win (for $7.50 return — $1.50 potential profit)
If Alvey wins, Jane still makes a $1 profit, even after losing $6 on Spann. That $1 can be used as a wager on something a lot more speculative but far more potentially profitable (e.g. a parlay bet).
Alternatively, if Spann wins, Jane loses only $0.50 on backing Alvey, rather than losing $2 — as she would have done had she not hedged her bets.
Why bet UFC on legal betting sites
As sports betting is legal in many states now, the top betting apps — like FanDuel and DraftKings — allow anyone to bet directly from their phone during fights. Wagering can also be done from any state where the sportsbook app is available and legal, and the user need not necessarily be in PA while wagering.
Aside from offering the user real protection, through operating under regulated conditions, online and mobile sportsbooks also offer more UFC betting lines than the “offshore” sportsbooks.
This undeniably enhances the experience of wagering on UFC events in a multitude of ways, and with better customer service compared to offshore sportsbooks, it is no surprise that online and mobile betting is now the go-to method for PA residents.
DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s online sportsbooks and mobile apps also enable users to bet on MMA events under a different brand, not just UFC fights. Other popular MMA events are held by Bellator and Golden Boy Promotions (US region), KOTC (Canada), BAMMA and Cage Warriors (UK/Europe), and the pan-Asian ONE Championship.
UFC betting tips for beginners
While the aforementioned process of hedging bets is useful, looking beyond the moneyline odds is very important.
Look at form
While pre-fight favorites are considered likely to win for a reason, a younger underdog with a long streak of victories has a decent chance of scoring an upset. Look at their win/loss methods, and fighters with a high concentration of KOs, TKOs, submissions and decisions on their record can often prove lucrative, especially in multiples or parlays.
Fighting style analysis (offensive)
Though modern UFC requires fighters to be all-rounders, with sufficient skill in both standing and “ground” situations, they will often try to maximize their main strength — i.e. looking for an opportunity to fly in with a knee if coming from a muay thai background. That can help massively when looking to pick a specific win method.
Fighting style analysis (defensive)
However, a fighter’s ability to defend against contrasting styles is equally crucial. For instance, even the toughest of fighters can have a surprisingly low pain threshold, and this leaves them susceptible to a defeat via submission, especially if they are still extremely focused on striking over grappling.
UFC 1: A case study
The importance of a solid defense was memorably evident in the very first UFC event. On the night in question, Brazilian jiujitsu expert Royce Gracie triumphed in an eight-man tournament, beating boxer Art Jimmerson and savate expert Gerard Gordeau en-route. He won all of his fights via submission.
Though either Jimmerson or Gordeau could have scored a KO victory against Gracie with a single punch or (in Gordeau’s case) a well-timed kick, Gracie showed enough defensively to dodge the attempted blows. By contrast, Jimmerson and Gordeau (focused entirely on striking) could not defend against Gracie’s painful locks and holds.
Play UFC DFS
Along with using the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel for sports betting, you can also play “UFC DFS” (daily fantasy sports) to earn some potentially huge prizes.
After signing up to play UFC DFS, you will be prompted to select six fighters from a UFC card. Depending on the version, you can also nominate an MVP — your biggest certainty to win — with the points that fighter gains multiplied by a certain amount.
The catch is that you must select fighters without exceeding the salary cap, meaning that selecting a team entirely made up of division champions and top-three contenders is not possible.
Instead, you will need to analyze form, style and various other criteria when selecting lesser-picked fighters.
DFS sign-up bonuses at DraftKings and FanDuel
New users of DraftKings DFS contests can get $20 of free buy-in credit on their first deposit, with the real money prize pool available to PA residents. Meanwhile FanDuel offers a multitude of perks for DFS. These include:
- A $10 bonus on the first deposit or a 1 free sports entry risk-free bet.
- $10 credit for referring a friend to FD.
- A risk-free bet up to $500 (as betting credit).
- Extra points for every $1 spent in entry fees.
Can I play UFC DFS outside PA?
That is entirely dependent on the other state’s laws, and UFC DFS contests with real money prizes may not be available US-wide, due to some contests requiring a buy-in from the user. However, current projections indicate that this will not always be the case, with hopes for full, US-wide availability by the end of 2022 still as relevant as ever.
Crucially, fantasy sports contests themselves are classified as “games of skill” by certain states that have not yet legalized sports wagering, and are therefore not subject to the same legislative restrictions currently faced by sportsbooks.
Most expensive prize purses in UFC history
Going into May 2020, these three bouts commanded the highest purses paid out to a fighter, regardless of the result.
- $3M — Ronda Rousey (UFC 207): Despite losing to Amanda Nunes via punches inside the very first minute, the charismatic Rousey’s return to the octagon in December 2016 was a huge draw.
- $3M — Conor McGregor (UFC 229): UFC 229 took place six months after McGregor had infamously vandalized a bus carrying opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov, prior to Nurmagomedov’s win versus Al Iaquinta in New York. The “bad blood” context guaranteed a huge PPV draw.
- $2.5M — Brock Lesnar (UFC 200): Held in July 2016 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, this event bookended nearly 15 years of the franchise’s majority ownership by Zuffa, prior to selling it to a group led by WWE-lMG.
The Fertitta brothers ended their days as UFC owners with a 12-fight card headlined by Amanda Nunes (who beat Miesha Tate in the first round). Despite the huge purse, Brock Lesnar’s bout with Mark Hunt was declared a no contest.
Notable MMA fighters from PA
Professional MMA records shown and statements made are correct as of May 2020.
Eddie Alvarez (from Philadelphia) — W30 (KO 17), L7, NC1
Formerly of the UFC, and currently active in the ONE Championship for MMA fighters, Alvarez is a one-time UFC lightweight champion. Making his UFC debut with a 25-3 record, Alvarez lost his debut with the franchise, via UD, against Donald Cerrone at UFC 178.
Alvarez fared better in his next three UFC appearances, with wins via UD (vs. Gilbert Melendez) and SD (vs. Anthony Pettis), before scoring his first knockout at a UFC event. The latter win came via TKO (punches) versus Rafael dos Anjos, and won him the lightweight title.
He held the title for just four months, losing to Conor McGregor at UFC 205 in November 2016. His last bout was a win (vs. Eduard Folayang) in the ONE Lightweight Grand-Prix semi-finals back in August 2019, though he withdrew from the tournament due to injury.
Josh Koscheck (from Waynesburg, PA) — W17 (KO 5), L11
Koscheck was the grand winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 1,” the inaugural edition of a televised talent-finding tournament, which was held back in April 2005. Koscheck made a winning UFC debut (vs. Pete Spratt at UFC Fight Night 1) and took his record to 15-5 over the following five years.
His only title shot resulted in a loss; Georges St-Pierre took a UD victory (for the UFC welterweight title) at UFC 124. Despite sustaining a devastating right-sided orbital bone injury during that bout, Koscheck responded with two wins, including a first-round knockout of Matt Hughes.
A string of six losses between May 2012 and February 2017 served to put an end to his career.
Phil Davis (from Harrisburg, PA) — W21 (KO 6), L5, NC1
An NCAA wrestler at college and gold medalist in his senior year, Davis turned professional in 2008 and built up a 9-0 record over his first three years on the MMA circuit. His first defeat came in a UFC light-heavyweight title eliminator (vs. Rashad Evans via UD) in January 2012.
After three more wins, Davis suffered the same fate again, against Anthony Johnson at UFC 172. The mid-2010s would eventually prove bountiful, with Davis winning the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship in September 2015.
He followed that up with a win (vs. Liam McGeary) for the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Championship in November 2016. However, Davis would defend the title for just eight months, losing it via split decision to Ryan Bader.
Since that defeat, Davis has won four of his last five Bellator bouts.
How to stream UFC live for free
Viewers can watch UFC events via their favorite sportsbook’s app. Each app will have a set of instructions on how to access streams of live events.
As of June 2020, UFC is joint-owned by Endeavor, Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital (via Zuffa, LLC).
By the start of 2020, the average annual salary given to a UFC fighter was around $140,000.
UFC bets can be placed on DraftKings (or any sportsbook) right up until the end of the referee’s briefing, which comes moments before he/she starts the fight.
As of May 2020, six UFC events have been hosted in PA. Three took place in Pittsburgh (all UFC Fight Night events), and three (101, 133 and UFC on ESPN: Barboza vs. Gaethje) were held in Philadelphia.
By the same point, March 2019’s Barboza/Gaethje clash stood as the last time PA hosted any UFC-branded event.
At the time the latest transfer of ownership took place, the UFC was worth a reported $4.2 billion.
Rules can vary depending on the type of bet, or whether or not the bet is placed as part of a special offer, so it is always worth checking this.
Wagers placed on an event that is suspended or postponed without a clear replacement date should be returned. Though the bet is void, the refunded amount cannot be withdrawn. Usually, it is the case that returned wagers can be used on any sport or market, though in special cases, it might only be usable in UFC markets.
In the case of draws (excluding no-contests, which should void the bet), it becomes a question of whether or not backing a draw was an option that the user bet against (by backing either fighter). If it was, the stake is lost.
If backing the draw was not an option prior to a drawn bout, then the sportsbook’s own rules and regulations will apply, but a refund of the stake will normally be offered. Alternatively, the stake may be turned into a free bet offer, subject to terms and conditions.
Again, that depends on the bookmaker’s own stipulations. However, the result is still a “win” for one fighter and a “loss” on the disqualified fighter’s record. As such, the bet is generally won/lost as normal.
If the disqualification is later reviewed, and found to be unjust by an independent body (such as a state athletic commission), the top-rated sportsbooks of good standing will invariably offer some form of compensation to those who initially lost their bet.