UFC or Bellator – Which Is Superior for Sports Bettors?

By Adam Haynes in MMA & UFC
| July 1, 2022 8:38 am PDT
UFC fighters vs. Bellator fighters

Is the UFC better than Bellator when it comes to betting on MMA fights?

As a writer, providing factual information is the most important part of your vocation. You can have fun and crack some jokes, but you want your readers to walk away feeling like they have learned something. And many of the things you are looking to address can often rise to the surface as questions in everyday life.

To many of my friends, I’m the go-to guy for mixed martial arts (MMA). I’ve been involved in the game, in some capacity, for years now. One of the things that friends and acquaintances who aren’t major MMA fans fail to get their head around are the differences between Bellator and the UFC. 

Today, I will break things down for those wondering what those distinctions are. Is Bellator better than the UFC for betting on? Or does the UFC beat Bellator in every department there is?

I know some fight fans who know the difference between the two promotions will be keen to find out where to bet on UFC and Bellator fights, so let’s broach that subject before we go any further.

Where to Bet on Bellator and UFC Fights

UFC vs. Bellator logos

As the world’s leading MMA promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gets the lion’s share of interest from fans.

It’s where it all began and continues to lead the way in the world of mixed martial arts. But the Bellator vs. UFC debate is growing by the year, with Scott Coker’s promotion looking to close the gap on the Las Vegas-based fight promotion. 

More fans watching and betting on Bellator fights means more demand for fight odds. I’ve certainly seen an upswing in the number of top MMA betting apps offering odds for Bellator.

That means more markets for bettors to target. The great thing with many of these apps is that they now provide many Bellator odds in-play, giving you even more potential ways to win. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean Bellator betting markets are as ubiquitous as their biggest rival’s. But could that change in the future? It could. It all depends on how much growth we see from the Californian promotion and if they can appeal to the wider fanbase.

It’s not impossible. But those who frequently wager on fights will probably have noticed that it’s tougher finding top odds for Bellator than it is for the UFC.

Why Betting UFC Markets Are More Common

It’s not a case of Bellator or UFC regarding the oddsmakers’ markets. I think they are happy to do business, regardless of the promotion staging an event.

There is more demand for UFC betting markets, however. If you are used to wagering on major MMA events, you’ll always have more access to a broader range of markets for Dana White’s bouts. This is a mainstream organization these days. It wasn’t always that way, of course. I’ll explain that in more detail as we go on.

If there are more markets to choose from, this provides anyone wagering on the fights with more choice. In theory, you can feel a little more settled if you are looking for the best odds for UFC fights when you have been given multiple options. With Bellator, I’ve found that only the leading real money gambling sites tend to give fans that range of choice. 

Important

Many other sites tend to focus exclusively on UFC fights. This can be annoying when looking for odds for the Bellator event scheduled this weekend or even future bets you get with its rival promotion.

If you are looking to bet on Bellator and the UFC, again, I’d recommend sites that give you the chance to do so. Sometimes, it’s better to have access to both under one roof.

I’ve found a few sportsbooks to consistently deliver regarding odds and markets for MMA fights, including both the UFC and Bellator. One that comes to mind first is BetOnline. You can check out what they have right now if you want to get some MMA bets down.

Is the UFC the Same as Bellator?

Time to get down to the practical differences between these two companies.

The first thing to do when comparing UFC and Bellator is to recognize that they are both in the same field. They are mixed martial arts promotions that stage worldwide events involving some of the world’s top fighting talent.

So, that’s basically where the UFC Bellator comparison ends, right? Not exactly. Structurally, these two companies operate on very similar playing fields.

They are run by presidents, who act as the overarching promoters for their respective roster of fighters. The athletes are all professional mixed martial artists that can only fight against competition contracted to their company. 

Let’s take a quick look at some of the differences between the UFC and Bellator. 

UFC Company Background and Details

Conor McGregor and Dana White
  • Founded: 1993
  • Based In: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Parent Company: Endeavor
  • Company Value: $9 Billion (Estimated)
  • President: Dana White
  • Website: UFC.com

The history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship is also the history of organized mixed martial arts.

Founded in 1993 by Art Davie, Rorion Gracie, and a few others, the basic concept behind what became the UFC was to find the most effective martial art on the planet. Fighters with backgrounds in the likes of Muay Thai, boxing, sumo wrestling, and Brazilian Jui-Jitsu competed in the first event staged in November of the same year.

Royce Gracie would go on to exhibit the wonders of BJJ, winning three of the first four tournaments. Of course, this led to an explosion of interest in BJJ, with fighters adapting their craft to include grappling. This led to the sport we have today, which demands fighters to be adept in all three major MMA core disciplines.

  • Wrestling
  • Striking
  • Grappling

The UFC was a cult success but failed to take off as a company.

That was until Dana White, who was bankrolled by childhood friends, the Fertita brothers, took a gamble on the company. One that would pay off incredibly well when the UFC was sold to WME-IMG for circa $4 billion in 2016.

With the popularity of action-packed fight cards, the emergence of superstar fighters such as Anderson Silva, John Jones, Brock Lesnar, Conor McGregor, and Ronda Rousey turned a failing company set for the scrapheap into a multi-billion-dollar success.

Bellator Background and More Useful Information

Scott Coker and Cris Cyborg
  • Founded: 2008
  • Based In: Hollywood, California
  • Parent Company: Paramount Global
  • Company Value: Subsidiary (N/A)
  • President: Scott Coker
  • Website: Bellator.com

Often seen as MMA’s little brother when comparing Bellator and UFC, the Californian promotion has also experienced a rise in popularity over the past decade.

Controversial or not, the success of Bellator has a lot to do with the rise of the UFC. Although marketed as an alternative to the Las Vegas-based fight company, Scott Coker and the minds behind Bellator have followed a similar blueprint to their bigger sibling.

Hardcore UFC fans adopted Bellator in the early to mid-2010s as a less-dramatic way to watch and bet on MMA fights. For Conor McGregor’s strengths and weaknesses, there is no doubting the Irishman’s ability to sell a scrap. Something that increased the popularity of the UFC with casual fans and turned some hardcore heads away.

Ultimately, McGregor created a culture within the UFC that led to other fighters embracing over-the-top shenanigans to sell fights. The more fights sold, the more money could be made from increased pay-per-view sales. The downside, for true fans, was that the promotion was heading the same way as WWE.

Bellator saw its fanbase increase. With this, it attracted more stars to the promotion. Although most of the big names were former UFC stars such as Chael Sonnen, Tito Ortiz, “Rampage” Jackson, and Ryan Bader.

These days, Bellator has a solid roster of homegrown fighters. When finding which MMA league is best for sports betting, you might understand that the caliber of fighters matters. The question is, who excels in this field?

UFC vs. Bellator – Who Has the Better Roster?

If you expect a long-winded comparison of UFC and Bellator fighters, I will be straight up with you. That is not going to happen.

There is only one winner in the Bellator vs. UFC debate regarding who has the better fighters. It’s the UFC, hands down. It’s not even close. That is not to say that Bellator’s fighters compared to the UFC roster suck because they’d don’t. But as for depth, volume, and the presence of the world’s best, Dana White wins. 

Whether we are comparing the UFC to Bellator in the greatest fighters to have ever graced both companies or looking at the current crop in both stables, it’s clear that the latter has much catching up to do. Sure, some of the best Bellator fighters in 2022 would run through their UFC counterparts. But it’s a small number if you think about it.

As a whole, I don’t think there is any fighter exclusive to Bellator that would take the place of the greatest mixed martial artist of all time in their weight class. Again, I’m not going to labor over this one, but here’s a small example to prove my point. 

Greatest Fighters in MMA History by Weight Class

  • Heavyweight: Fedor Emelianenko
  • Light Heavyweight: Jon Jones
  • Middleweight: Anderson Silva 
  • Welterweight: Georges Saint-Pierre
  • Lightweight: Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Featherweight: Jose Aldo
  • Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz
  • Flyweight: Demetrious Johnson
  • Women’s Lightweight: Kayla Harrison
  • Women’s Featherweight: Amanda Nunes
  • Women’s Bantamweight: Amanda Nunes
  • Women’s Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko
  • Women’s Strawweight: Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Above is my list of the best MMA fighters of all time in every division. Of this list, not one single Bellator fighter makes the grade. Well, that is unless you count Fedor Emelianenko. And I don’t.

I mean, Fedor was at his best in the now-defunct Pride championships and joined Bellator as a marquee signing aged 40 in 2017.

Other than Fedor, only the PFL’s Kayla Harrison makes the grade. However, it must be pointed out that neither the UFC nor Bellator has a women’s lightweight division at the time of writing. So, in essence, this falls outside of the debate of rankings. But not which MMA company is best for gamblers, of course! 

It’s not all gravy for the UFC, of course. There have been absolute stinkers in this company over the years. I guess you can never forget about CM Punk. But how about some of the most overrated fighters in the promotion’s history? How do you think these guys would have done in Bellator?

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Comparing Bellator Odds and Markets to UFC Bets

UFC or Bellator? Have any of your questions been answered yet?

Now that we’ve covered both companies’ backgrounds and established that the UFC can boast a better caliber of fighters, it’s time to move on. I want to discuss Bellator vs. UFC betting odds and markets and how they differ. This will be a crucial part of our journey toward deciding which is better to bet on. 

As much as you might think that betting on the UFC is better than gambling on Bellator fights, that’s not true. There are many upsides to wagering on matches in Coker’s promotion, and I’m going to take a look at the main ones below. 

First, let’s see the pros and cons of UFC vs. Bellator betting. We’ll start with the UFC and finish with Bellator.

What’s Good and Bad About Wagering on UFC Fights?

Some downsides to wagering on UFC matches can catch you out. So, it always pays to be aware of these before placing your bets.

Pros
  • Online UFC odds are easy to find
  • A wider range of markets
  • Betting bonuses for UFC fights are more common
  • All events are covered
  • You can easily find UFC odds for prelims
Cons
  • Higher volume of gamblers betting on fights
  • Value is tougher to find
  • Harder to find an edge with most bookies

Of course, many positives could swing the pendulum Las Vegas’ way in the Bellator or UFC gambling argument. 

Some of the best sports betting bonuses tend to cover UFC odds and markets over Bellator.

The downside to this, however, is that finding value might be more challenging for someone who knows what they are doing. But you fade Joe Public, especially if there is a Conor McGregor fight on, so smart bettors can even the playing field.

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Bellator Betting – The Upsides and Downsides

There are many pros and cons to watching and betting on Bellator over the UFC. This pro/con list is focused on the gambling side of things and highlights some of the factors that give it the edge over the UFC. 

Pros
  • Bellator odds are less popular with MMA bettors
  • More chance of finding value
  • Bellator bets can be more profitable for experts
Cons
  • Fewer sites and apps provide odds for Bellator
  • Smaller range of odds
  • Fewer Bellator props bets are available
  • Many prelims fights are not covered
  • More unknown and unpredictable fighters

With that being said, there are downsides. The main one, which I mentioned earlier, is something of a lack of exposure where the odds are concerned. You can find more betting markets for UFC prelims fights than for major Bellator bouts. With most sites, that is. 

That’s why it pays to use your head and sign up with one of the leading MMA sportsbooks out there. If you are betting on Bellator, this will give you an advantage in the long run. Oh, and don’t forget that these sites will provide you with odds for Bellator and the UFC.

Is Betting on Bellator the Same as Wagering on UFC?

The key thing to remember in any UFC vs. Bellator debate is that both are MMA promotions.

Unlike boxing, where there are multiple fighters, promoters, and titles within a sport, mixed martial arts works differently. For example, let’s say odds for Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk hit the board, and a fight is made not long after. As long as the promoters for Fury and Usyk agree to terms, these two boxers can fight.

This is different in MMA. The UFC and Bellator are the promoters. But they only allow their fighters to compete against others within the same promotion. That means that Kamaru Usman can’t take on Logan Storley, as that would be a cross-promotion fight. Those don’t typically happen.

So, in theory, betting on Bellator is the same as betting on UFC fights. Why? Because they are both MMA promotions. Thus, the nature of these fights will determine the bets available. These include the following.

  • Fight Winner – Also known as the moneyline bet, you are backing the fighter you think will emerge with the victory.
  • Method of Victory – Whether it’s the UFC or Bellator, it’s still MMA. So, you can target these prop bets markets to potentially find more betting value by predicting a KO, submission, or decision victory.
  • Round of Victory – What round will the fighter you are betting on in Bellator win in? If you are confident in guessing correctly, you could win big.
  • Method and Round – The odds for guessing both the method and the round of victory are up there with some of the best prop bets for Bellator or UFC fights. 

As you can see, the basics of betting on either promotion are the same. Why? Well, this is MMA. There are three or five-round fights (championship or headline bouts). That sets how long a mixed martial arts fight is scheduled to last.

With striking and submissions allowed, this also sets how a war can be won, other than by decision. By nature, the bets you can place are determined by the sport rather than the promotion.

Now, this is probably where the comparisons end.

As the UFC is better than Bellator in terms of its coverage and popularity, there will be more props and exotic bets relating to the promotion’s fighters. Some of these wagers are on things such as, who Max Holloway will fight next, or even markets relating to who will be UFC champions by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, Bellator isn’t quite at that level just yet. But what it does have going for it, again, is fewer gamblers betting on their fights.

The Bonuses for Betting on Bellator Fights

This phrasing could be interpreted as bonuses and promotions for gambling on Bellator fights. To be honest, you can find plenty out there. There are lots of top MMA sportsbooks that are offering sign-up bonuses that can be used for Bellator fights.

The likes of Bovada have a fantastic welcome offer, so I would check them out if you’re looking to get involved. Few sites restrict what you can use your welcome bonus on, so it could be Bellator or UFC. Or even football. That’s up to you.

However, what I wanted to touch on quickly was the upside to betting on Bellator fights. I think Coker’s promotion is clearly losing the UFC vs. Bellator debate, and I don’t think it’s fair. You should be aware of bonuses for betting on the latter. Some of these have been alluded to earlier, but I see no harm in looking a little closer at some of them.

Do More Betting Favorites Win in Bellator?

Bellator Title

This is something that should warrant attention. So, don’t slip on me now.

Last year, betting favorites in Bellator went 143-48. Of all fights, eight ended in a no-contest and were priced at evens. This is an awesome stat for anyone looking to bet on fights that aren’t as volatile. Of the 17 headline events, 11 favorites won, with 6 underdogs triumphing. 

Of all Bellator events in 2021, no card had more underdogs winning than favorites.

Now, these are stats compiled in 2021. There is nothing to say that these figures will be better or worse when 2022 is through. But they demand respect.

Do Odds Change as Much in Bellator as UFC Fights?

I’ll share some additional information later to help you better understand how to bet on UFC fights.

Remember that there is no surefire way to win your UFC bets. Surprises happen; favorites get beaten. That is the nature of the beast. But when it comes to UFC betting trends, one thing that popped up in 2021 was that bookies cleaned up with shifting odds for fights under Dana White’s banner.

Here are a few examples of opening and closing odds and the winning result.

  • Hall (-135) vs. Weidman (+115) – Hall (+134) Weidman (-158) –  Hall +$134
  • Reyes (+110) vs. Prochazka (-130) – Reyes (-110) Prochazka (-110) – Prochazka +$90.91
  • Dariush (+105) vs. Ferguson (-125) – Dariush (-146) Ferguson (+124) – Dariush -$100
  • Rozenstruik (+125) vs. Sakai (-140) – Rozenstruik (-134) Sakai (+114) – Rozenstruik -$100
  • Korean Zombie (-110) vs. Dan Ige (-110) – Zombie (+125)  Ige (-152) – Zombie +$125
  • McGregor (-140) vs. Poirier (+120) – McGregor (+105) Poirier (-129) – Poirier wins -$100

The same level of fluctuation in Bellator odds is rarely seen in main events or large-scale fights.

It’s not to say it doesn’t happen, of course. It does. But not on the same level as the UFC. This means that many casual bettors will trip up if they are betting with the public rather than against it. 

Can MMA Knowledge Help You Win Money on Bellator Fights?

Absolutely. It can be in UFC matches, too. But with Bellator, there is a higher volume of lesser-known fighters.

Add that to the fact that fewer gamblers are wagering on Bellator fights, creating a pretty enticing option. One that will probably be geared more toward professional gamblers than those looking to watch a star-packed card and place a few bets.

There are factors you should consider when gambling on MMA fights that can be used on Bellator or UFC fights. The same principle applies to both, given that the sport is the same. But there are differences between the promotions, of course.

But the devil is, as they say, often found in the details.

Is Betting on UFC Fights Better than Wagering on Bellator?

UFC and Bellator logos over money

Having put both of these major MMA promotions to the wall, it would be a disservice to settle the Bellator vs. UFC debate with a diplomatic answer.

It’s probably not what you want to hear. But that’s precisely what I am going to give you. If you have followed me through this piece, you’ll surely understand the rationale for what I am about to say next. 

In terms of being the better promotion, the UFC wins. Hands down. It’s not even worthy of further debate. They have better fighters, more attractive events, and the depth of competition is miles ahead. It’s as simple as that.

While betting on the UFC is better than wagering on Bellator, the gulf between the two promotions is not as prevalent in this category.

Sure, more UFC odds and betting markets can be found on the best US betting sites and beyond.

That means more opportunities to make money. But with Bellator, the fact that fewer gamblers saturate the markets means that someone with knowledge of the sport could potentially be more successful wagering on Bellator fights.

All things considered, the UFC has the upper hand. But betting on Bellator might be something that knowledgeable MMA gamblers should think about doing. I recommend starting with the UFC if you are new to the game. But if you decide to go the other way, the following tips will help when gambling on the fights in either promotion.

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