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MMA & UFC Betting Tips: Best bets for this week's big fights writers offer free UFC betting tips for every numbered pay-per-view event as well as UFC on ESPN and UFC on ESPN+ cards.

Jon Jones v Thiago Santos (July 6)

It has been six years since Jon Jones last fought more than once in a calendar year, but on Saturday night he will be stepping inside the Octagon for the second time in 2019 and he will be looking to record another emphatic victory that cements his status as the number one light-heavyweight fighter on the planet. The highly-controversial UFC champion recorded a dominant unanimous decision victory when he outclassed Anthony Smith back in March and his latest challenger to the crown, at UFC 239, is heavy-hitting Brazilian Thiago Santos.

This title shot has been a long-time coming for Santos. The 35-year-old Brazilian endured a losing UFC debut in August 2013 and went on to have a pretty solid run as a middleweight before deciding to make the step up to 205lbs. And since he made that jump, Santos has been an unstoppable wrecking ball, reeling off three straight TKO victories including impressive finishes of Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz. However, it goes without saying that he faces a gigantic step up in quality on Saturday night, but can he rise to the occasion and dethrone Jones or will it be another tour de force from the champion?

With 15 of his 21 professional victories coming via KO/TKO, it is clear to see that the challenger has some pop in his strikes, but the same has been said about several men that Jones has faced over the years, and each time he has seen off the threat with relative ease. One-dimensional fighters are never going to enjoy much success against a fighter who is simply superior in all aspects of the fight game, even if Jones’ striking power is not quite on the level of the challenger’s. It is not a question of will Jones win, more how will he win?

Back in March he went the distance as he beat Smith in comprehensive fashion, and that has been something of a recurring theme for the champion over the past few years with five of his last seven outings ending in the judges unanimously awarding him the win. So would it be a massive surprise to see Jones and Santos go the distance here? Of course not. Do I expect that to happen? No.

This is the third time that Jones has fought in just under seven months and that is the most active he has been before his legal issues and drug problems derailed his career. The importance of this cannot be understated. This is not a Jon Jones coming off a lengthy lay-off after some sort of controversy. This is a Jon Jones who appears to be at his peak once again, dominating opponents and leaving no doubt that he is the number one light-heavyweight fighter on the planet.

Like him or loathe him, there can be no denying his in-ring brilliance and I expect him to showcase it once again here. He will throw plenty of leg kicks in order to wear down Santos and keep him off balance, negating that devastating finishing power, and I would not be surprised to see him rack up a few takedowns too because he will have a sizeable advantage if they hit the mat. A first submission win since September 2012 would not surprise me, but Santos has been stopped by strikes by the likes of David Branch and Gegard Mousasi in the last few years and that does not bode well for a meeting with Jones, who ruthlessly took out Alexander Gustafsson with strikes back in December. I believe we will see similar scenes here, with Jones notching another KO/TKO victory.

Amanda Nunes v Holly Holm (July 6)

If there was any doubt before December, Amanda Nunes made it known that she is the best female fighter on Earth by destroying Cris Cyborg inside one minute to add the women’s featherweight title to her bantamweight crown to become the first two-weight champion in UFC history.

Cyborg entered the fight in sensational form having rattled off 20 consecutive wins, with 17 of them coming via stoppage, and many wondered if Nunes would gamble by trying to go toe-to-toe with her. That question was answered rather quickly as she almost immediately troubled Cyborg with a right-hand, before landing a left hook/overhand right combination that turned off the lights. It was incredible stuff and afterwards Nunes declared herself the greatest of all-time. Few could argue after such a performance.

However, all of that will change if she does not make a winning return to the featherweight ranks on Saturday night, and her opponent, Holly Holm, has previous for stopping the unstoppable. Few gave her much hope when she challenged Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight title back in November 2015, but she delivered the head-kick heard around the world in the second round to shatter the unbeatable aura that had been surrounding the then-champion. But can she do the same here?

My answer is ‘no’. Holm has gone 2-4 since that famous night and while she did humiliate Rousey that night, she was able to take advantage of a huge hole in her opponent’s game. There are no such holes in Nunes’ stand-up. The Brazilian is an aggressive striker who will not allow Holm to settle in and she possesses the finishing power that could end the contest at any minute. Having seen the way she ruthlessly took out Cyborg, I have to back Nunes to record another KO/TKO victory here.

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UFC Betting Tips Guide: How To Bet On MMA

Betting on mixed martial arts has never been so popular, with more and more bookmakers offering more and more markets for the fast-rising sport. But which markets should you be using to make a profit when betting on MMA? Here is our guide to the key markets…


This market could not be any simpler – you are betting on who will win the fight. It does not matter if the bout is won by decision, submission or knockout, as long as the fighter you back is victorious your bet will be a winner. Of course, that means the appeal of this market is solely dependent on how open the fight is and that means the only real opportunity to make a profit comes when the bookmakers are struggling to separate two fighters.

Method Of Victory

Just like the ‘Winner’ market you are picking out who you think will have their hand raised at the end of the fight, but the odds are bigger in this market because you have to also select how the fighter will win the bout. And of course, in the world of MMA there are three options to choose from because fights can end via KO/TKO, submission or via decision. By having to select a method of victory you are immediately getting a bigger price for backing your chosen fighter. For example, Khabib Nurmagomedov was an 8/15 favourite for his bout with Tony Ferguson at the time of writing, but if you backed him to win by Decision you would get odds of 15/8. If you backed him to win via KO/TKO, you would get odds as big as 3/1. Some bookmakers even offer an opportunity to back a fighter to win by KO/TKO or Submission, so there are plenty of options here and that means this tends to be a go-to market for our tipsters.

Total Rounds

The Total Rounds market gives you the chance to bet on how many rounds the fight will or will not last. So, using Khabib v Ferguson as the example again, you would back Over 4.5 Total Rounds at 1/2 if you fancied the main event to go the full five rounds. Alternatively, if you liked the chances of a fighter winning in the first three rounds you would back Under 3.5 Total Rounds at 11/10 – it would not matter if the fight lasted one round or two rounds, as long as it ended before the 17:30 mark in the fight your bet would be a winner.

Round Betting

One of the most popular ways to bet on combat sports is to bet on which round the fight will finish, and this market covers every single round in the fight. The odds can be quite lucrative too because you are pinpointing the ending of the bout down to just one round, so if you believed Numagomedov would tear through Ferguson in just one round you could get a price as big as 6/1, while a win late on for the Russian fighter, perhaps in Round 4, could be backed at 14/1. If there is a market in which you can make a big profit, it is this one.


Most UFC Titles: 5 - Randy Couture

Fighters To Have Won UFC Titles In Two Different Weight Classes: Randy Couture (Heavyweight, Light-Heavyweight), Georges St-Pierre (Middleweight, Welterweight), Conor McGregor (Lightweight, Featherweight), BJ Penn (Welterweight, Lightweight), Daniel Cormer, (Heavyweight, Light-Heavyweight), Amanda Nunes (Women's bantamweight, Women's featherweight).

Longest UFC Title Reign: 2,457 days - Anderson Silva (Middleweight)

Most UFC Fights: 29 - Michael Bisping

Most UFC Wins: 20 - Michael Bisping

Most Knockouts: 12 - Vitor Belfort

Most Submissions: 12 - Royce Gracie

Longest Win Streak: 16 - Anderson Silva (June 28, 2006 - July 6, 2013)

Fastest Finish: 6 seconds - Duane Ludwig beat Jonathan Goulet by KO (January 16, 2006)

Latest Finish In 5 Round Fight: Demetrious Johnson beat Kyoji Horiguchi by Submission at 4:59 in Round 5 (April 25, 2015)

Latest Finish in 3 Round Fight: Paul Craig beat Magomed Ankalaev by Submission at 4:59 in Round 3 (March 17, 2018)

Current UFC Champions

TitleFighterDate Won
HeavyweightDaniel CormierJuly 2, 2018
Light-HeavyweightJon JonesDecember 29, 2018
MiddleweightRobert WhittakerJuly 8, 2017
WelterweightKamaru UsmanMarch 2, 2019
LightweightKhabib NurmagomedovApril 7, 2018
FeatherweightMax HollowayJune 3, 2017
BantamweightTJ DillashawNovember 4, 2017
FlyweightHenry CejudoAugust 4, 2018
Women's BantamweightAmanda NunesJuly 9, 2016
Women's StrawweightRose NamajunasNovember 4, 2017
Women's FeatherweightAmanda NunesDecember 29, 2018
Women's FlyweightValentina ShevchenkoDecember 8, 2018


Conor McGregor celebrates becoming the first man to be world champion in two UFC weight classes at the same time. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images )

Mixed Martial Arts' rise to being one of the most popular sports on the planet has been nothing short of spectacular, and of all of the promotions out there the biggest is undoubtedly the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Founded in 1993, the UFC was designed to answer some age-old questions. Could a wrestler beat a boxer? Could a karate fighter beat a jiu jitsu expert? And how would a sumo wrestler fare in the world of combat sports?

Those questions were answered in brutal - and sometimes bloody - fashion as mixed martial arts became an outlawed sport across much of the United States, with senator John McCain famously branding it “human cock-fighting”. Media outlets made the most of the fact there were “no rules” – which wasn’t actually true – and an increasing number of pay-per-view carriers dropped the UFC due to pressure.

UFC 12 had to be moved from Buffalo to Dothan, Alabama after MMA was effectively banned by the state, and the company continue to haemorrhage cash as each event went by. In an attempt to stem the tide against mixed martial arts UFC bosses introduced weight classes, rounds and five minute time limits – as well as a number of other rules – but the promotion continued to lose money and in January 2001 parent company Semaphore Entertainment Group – on the brink of bankruptcy – sold up.

Step forward, Dana White and the Fertitta brothers. White persuaded the Las Vegas casino chiefs to spend $2million to buy the promotion in 2001 – although Lorenzo Fertitta later admitted all he wanted from the deal were the letters U, F and C.

“I had my attorneys tell me that I was crazy because I wasn't buying anything,” Fertitta told Fighter’s Only magazine. “I was paying $2million and they were saying 'What are you getting? And I said 'What you don't understand is I'm getting the most valuable thing that I could possibly have, which is those three letters: UFC. That is what's going to make this thing work. Everybody knows that brand, whether they like it or they don't like it, they react to it.'”

The UFC shifted its operations to Las Vegas – considered the fight capital of the world – and the trio of Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture began to lay the foundations for the success that has come since. Ortiz’s brash and outspoken antics earned him the attention of the mainstream media while Liddell’s devastating knockout power made him a fighter that could not be missed. Ken Shamrock – a star in the early days – returned to the company to reignite his rivalry with Ortiz and their UFC 40 bout reportedly kept the company afloat.

However, during their three-year ownership the Ferittas had lost in excess of $34million trying to kick-start the franchise and they were considering whether or not to part with the UFC when the opportunity for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality television series came around. TUF had a simple formula – a bunch of fighters move into a house together and compete for a six-figure contract with the UFC. The catch was, the UFC would have to pay $10million to produce the show.

The Fertitta’s decided to take the gamble and a deal was signed with the Spike TV station in the United States, but would the final roll of the dice be successful? The answer was a resounding ‘Yes’. TUF was an instant success and the epic final fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar has been hailed by UFC president White as the fight that saved the UFC. In fact, it was so important the two men were later inducted into the Hall of Fame in respect of what they did that night.

"This was our last $10 million," White told Yahoo Sport. "People say, 'Oh, TUF, it's just a reality show.' No. This was more than a reality show. Everything was on the line. The way Lorenzo puts it, it's like you're out gambling and you've gotten your ass kicked all night and then you get everything you saved and everything you have and you put it up on the table and you tell them to cut the cards. That's what it was!"

The Ultimate Fighter became a permanent fixture on Spike TV and the season three success of Michael Bisping – who would become the first British fighter to hold a UFC title – helped catapult the sport into the public eye in the United Kingdom. Events in the UK would become regular occurrences and as the years went on the UFC would host events across the United States and the glove – a makeshift stadium was built in Abu Dhabi for one card.

In 2011 the UFC inked a seven-year deal with broadcasting giants FOX Sports and the first ever fight on the network made history as it became the most watched combat sports event since Lennox Lewis defended the world heavyweight boxing championship against Vitali Klitschko in 2003.

The UFC was on a roll, buying up other promotions to sign the best talent available and in the likes of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar they had fighters that would smash all sorts of records – from gate receipts to television ratings to pay-per-view buy rates.

And in March 2016 the company finally made the breakthrough it had been fighting for ever since UFC 12. New York became the 50th US state to legalise mixed martial arts and it was soon announced that the first ever MMA card at Madison Square Garden would be held on November 12. The hottest ticket in town offered the most spectacular card in UFC history and represented the moment the UFC was truly a mainstream sport that could go where it wanted when it wanted.

But before that epic night, the Fertitta brothers called time on their reign over the sport. In July of 2016 parent company ZUFFA announced it had sold the company to talent agency WME-IMG for a staggering $4billion - not a bad profit on a $2million purchase, even with those losses in the early days. White would stick around as president and the question was what was next for the UFC?

More growth we expect, and as the UFC and the sport of MMA continues to reach more and more people the bookmakers are offering more and more to its punters. At one time you could only find a handful of markets to bet on for the big fights, but now the bookies are queuing up with a whole hosts of betting markets and special promotions - even for the undercard! has it all covered, offering exclusive UFC tips and giving you a rundown of key bookmaker promotions.

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