Bellator MMA Betting in 2021
Many casual mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are only aware of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). This makes sense as the UFC has the best talent in the world and major national exposure due to its partnership with ESPN. But for MMA betting fans that can’t get enough of the sport, there are many major promotions outside of the UFC to enjoy including the Japan-based Rizin Fighting Federation, the China-based ONE Championship, and the United States-based Bellator. Bellator MMA betting is rising in popularity as the promotion is considered by many to be the second best in the world.
Whether you are a casual UFC bettor or a serious one, Bellator MMA betting is well worth putting on your radar. With sportsbooks putting most of their MMA resources towards making sure that their UFC lines are as sharp as possible, bettors willing to put in the time and research on Bellator can often find much softer lines than they do when betting on the UFC. Here’s a closer look at the promotion and how you can bet on it.
History of MMA Bellator
Bellator MMA was originally founded in 2008 as the Bellator Fighting Championships. The promotion is named after the latin word “bellator”, which means warrior. Bellator events were originally scheduled as single-elimination tournaments that would fight down to a winner; that winner would earn a $100,000 prize and a world-title shot against the Bellator world champion of the weight class the tournament was held at.
In 2011, Viacom purchased a majority stake of the promotion. The company decided to part ways with chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney and president Tim Danaher in 2014. Danaher was replaced by Strikeforce founder Scott Coker. With Coker at the helm, Bellator dropped its seasonal tournament format in favor of a more traditional schedule that could run year-round.
Bellator’s rise in popularity has a lot to do with its increased exposure in recent years. The promotion began a five-year streaming deal with DAZN in 2018. In 2020, Bellator signed a deal with ESPN Brasil to broadcast events in South America and moved to the CBS Sports Network in October of 2020 after Viacom merged with the CBS Corporation. Looking ahead, Bellator will be airing on Showtime exclusively starting in April of 2021.
Bellator MMA Betting Sites
While Bellator may not be the household name that UFC is, it is still a well-respected promotion in the sports betting community. Virtually all major betting sites offer betting odds on Bellator events. US punters should check out our guide to the legal betting industry in America. Here are some of the most popular sportsbooks that you can bet on Bellator MMA at:
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Bellator MMA Bet Types
Bellator betting is very similar to UFC betting. Here are the main Bellator MMA betting odds and markets that you will find at most sportsbooks.
Moneyline wagers are far and away the most popular way to bet on Bellator MMA fights. As is the case with all one-on-one combat sports, all that matters is who wins. This is what moneyline betting is all about; simply picking which fighter will win regardless of their method of victory.
It is extremely rare to see two perfectly evenly-matched fighters going head-to-head in the cage. There is almost always a betting favorite (the fighter that is perceived as more likely to win) and a betting underdog (the fighter that is perceived as less likely to win). How much more or less likely a fighter is to win the fight is reflected in the betting odds.
For example, take what would seem to be a competitive fight on paper between Corey Anderson and Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov. Anderson might be listed as a slight favorite at -140 over Yagshimuradov at +110. Odds listed with a “-” indicate how much you would need to bet to win $100. So in this example, to win $100 on Corey Anderson in this fight as a -140 favorite, you would need to risk $140 on him.
Odds listed with a “+” let you know how much you would get paid on a $100 wager. At +110, a $100 bet on Yagshimuradov would yield a profit of $110. Moneyline odds apply to any bet size, so a $14 bet on Corey Anderson at -140 would pay out $10 and a $1000 bet on Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov would pay out $1,100 on a win. Because this is expected to be a close fight, the odds on both sides are pretty similar.
A fight between Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida, on the other hand, wouldn’t be quite so evenly matched on paper. Bader could be listed as a -350 favorite while the 42-year-old Machida would be listed at +270. The more obvious the outcome of the fight seems, the more likely it is that the favorite will be going off at big moneyline odds.
Bellator fights consist of three five-minute rounds, with the exception of championship bouts that consist of five five-minute rounds. Total rounds bets let you bet on whether a fight will go OVER or UNDER a set benchmark.
The total is almost always set at either 1.5 rounds or 2.5 rounds. Fights more likely to end in a quick knockout or submission are set at 1.5 rounds while fights more likely to go the distance are set at 2.5 rounds. For example, imagine a fight between two Bellator MMA submission specialists. The round total for this hypothetical matchup might be set at OVER 1.5 rounds (-125) / UNDER 1.5 rounds (-105).
Betting on the OVER 1.5 rounds means that you believe the fight will last longer than 1.5 rounds, or past the 2-minute-30-second mark in the second round. A bet on the UNDER 1.5 rounds is a bet that the fight will end in less than 7.5 minutes, or before the 2:30 mark in the second round. Betting on Bellator MMA round totals are only wagers on how long the fight will last; it doesn’t matter which fighter wins or how the fight ends.
Parlay betting is popular across all sports, but it is especially popular in mixed martial arts and Bellator MMA because it allows bettors to cut down on some of the chalk that comes with betting on favorites. A parlay wager groups two or more bets into one single wager. If any of the sides making up the parlay (also known as “legs” of the parlay) lose, the entire parlay is graded as a loss. So the more fighters or totals you add to your parlay, the harder they are to hit, but the higher the potential payday is.
Say for instance that you want to bet on both Vadim Nemkov and Yoel Romero in an upcoming Bellator MMA event. If Nemkov is going off at -400 (bet $400 to win $100) and Yoel Romero is going off at -300 ($300 to win $100), betting on both fighters is quite pricey. But if you instead decided to build a Bellator MMA parlay with the two of them together instead, your Nemkov + Romero parlay would pay around -150 ($150 to win $100).
Type of Victory
Another way to go for improved payouts over the moneyline is to bet on a fighter’s exact type of victory. So instead of betting on Vadim Nemkov simply to win, you could bet on him to win by “KO, TKO, or DQ”, for him to win by submission, or for him to win by decision. Each of these outcomes will have their own price, with odds varying greatly depending on each fighter’s style and the perceived likelihood of this outcome occurring.
Grand Prix Futures
While Bellator MMA has gotten away from the tournament format in favor of more standard event cards in recent years, it does still sometimes hold events in a tournament style that span out across multiple weeks. Instead of betting on each individual fight, bettors have the option to bet on who will win the whole tournament, which is called a Bellator Grand Prix. All of the fighters participating in the tournament are listed and your price will be locked in when you bet it on the fighter you believe will win the entire event.
Bellator MMA Betting Tips
- Go deep in your Bellator fighter research – Sportsbooks are getting more accurate with their betting lines on Bellator events as the promotion’s popularity grows. But the real betting value is down the card as most of the betting action comes in on big names and not lesser-known veterans and up-and-comers. Putting in the time to learn the fighting styles of the whole roster top-to-bottom will pay dividends when weak lines show up on fights getting less attention.
- Always be wary of the upset – Even the biggest favorite can have his or her lights turned out in one punch or be forced to submit with just one tactical mistake. Of course the odds are against such outcomes when a fighter is heavily favored, but don’t get in the habit of always laying huge money on favorites. Pick your spots wisely and stick to reliable favorites with iron chins or strong takedown defenses, depending on their opponent.
- Use your top picks as parlay keys – Say that you love a favorite in an upcoming Bellator MMA event. Consider creating two-leg parlays with your favorite pick and some of your other selections on the card. If you create four two-leg parlays around your top pick and your top pick wins, you’ll likely book a nice profit even if your other picks only break about even.