Bet on UFC Online in Iowa

playia ufc mma betting

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, is the premier mixed martial arts brand of the world. Each year, millions tune in to watch modern-day gladiators attempt to knock out, choke out or submit to one another. Now, thanks to Iowa lawmakers, you can place a variety of sports bets on the outcome of these contests.

The rise of the UFC, particularly in the last decade, has occurred in parallel to the rise of legal sports betting sites across the US. Wagering on sports is no longer reserved for trips to Las Vegas or some smoky backroom. In many states, it’s as simple as using a smartphone or tablet in the comfort of your home.

Iowa is a legal sports betting state. You can bet on all manner of UFC and other mixed martial arts promotions’ events through your mobile device. If you’re ready to start betting on two men attempting to subdue one another, here’s how to get started in Iowa.

Bet UFC at legal sports betting sites in Iowa

How are UFC odds set and when are lines released?

Like any other sports wagering, betting on any UFC event requires the sportsbook to produce some options. However, the unique nature of UFC competitions means that there are not as many opportunities for wagering on the minutiae of the contest as there are in other sports.

The most common bet you’ll see for UFC fights is a simple moneyline regarding the eventual winner of the bout. It does not matter whether the win comes from a knockout, submission or judges’ decision; the fighter with the raised hand determines the winner of the bet.

In terms of the amount of time you’ll have to consider your options, there is quite a bit of variation. The main event of a big-time fight night might have open UFC betting odds more than a month before the bout. However, most of the other fights on the card will probably not be released until three or four days before the event.

Check the current odds and claim your bonus at DraftKings IA right here.

How to bet on UFC fights

Along with betting the moneyline, there aren’t too many other options for wagering before a fight begins. There are no points to be scored, so there cannot be any type of point spread or totals bet.

If you’re already betting which fighter will win, the only aspects left to bet are the time it will take him/her to win and how he/she will do so. Let’s explore these types of bets in a bit more detail. We’ll also do a refresher on how the moneyline works.


The main type of bet that you’ll find in Iowa on UFC events is the moneyline wager. The moneyline is one of the most common types of wagers and is simply a bet about which team or, in this case, which fighter will win the match.

The only issue with moneylines for new sports bettors is the way that they are listed. Moneylines display their payouts in sometimes-confusing three-digit numbers next to each fighter’s name. So, a typical moneyline could look something like this:

Conor McGregor    -225
Dustin Poirier    +185

The first thing to see is the plus or minus sign next to each number. The negative sign indicates which fighter is the favorite to win, and the positive number is next to the underdog. So, in this case, McGregor is favored to beat Poirier.

The numbers, then, explain what the profit on a successful bet will yield. The number next to the favorite is the amount that you must wager to earn $100 on a winning bet. The positive number is the amount that you will win if you bet $100 on the underdog successfully. So, it would take a $225 bet on McGregor to win $100. However, a $100 bet on Poirier would result in $185 of profit.

Now, to be clear, you don’t have to bet exactly $100. The numbers given are ratios, so the sportsbook will adjust the payout proportionally to your bet size.

Type of win

The second type of wager you’ll often see is about how the winner will win. UFC fights can end in draws, but of the hundreds of UFC battles that occur each year, less than a dozen will end without a winner. So, you can safely bet on one of the three possible outcomes:

  • KO/TKO: Which stands for knockout, or technical knockout, the referee declares a fighter physically unable to continue.
  • Submission: The fighter slaps the mat and concedes the match to the opponent due to a chokehold or joint lock.
  • Decision: Three independent judges score the fight under a 10-point must system and declare a winner.

These bets are proposition wagers by nature, but they will come with moneyline payouts. We’ll talk more about tips for betting one of these options later on.

Over/under for rounds

Totals, or over/under betting, is the third type of UFC wager in Iowa pertains to the number of rounds necessary to declare a winner of the match. If a match ends in KO or submission, it can occur at any point in the match. A judges’ decision means the fight will last the maximum number of rounds. Most UFC matches last three rounds. The only exceptions are championship bouts or — sometimes — the main event on the card. These more-important matches can last up to five rounds.

The different options for the length of the match will be expressed as moneylines. Again, we’ll talk about the strategies for these bets in just a bit.


You could come across futures wagering options for UFC-related events at some sportsbooks. However, in practice, these types of futures are more like long-term proposition wagers.

So, a book might ask if, say, McGregor is going to become a UFC champion in 2021. Then, it will offer you moneyline odds on both yes and no answers.

Since there’s no definitive end to the UFC season, it makes futures betting much more difficult. So, if you see an offer for a futures bet on the UFC, just know that it’s more like a prop than anything.


UFC events are never just a single match. Each time you tune into a fight night, you will see five or six fights on the main card. Additionally, the undercard, which may or may not be televised, will feature five to 10 more bouts.

So, since each match is a “game,” you can make a parlay bet and use the matches as legs. It’s easy enough to choose the winner from each fight on a particular card and hope for the best. You could also use some of the other types of bets.

Parlays are a high-risk, high-reward type of wager. On the one hand, you can potentially increase your profit exponentially if you can choose every fight correctly. However, a single misstep will cause the bet to fail, regardless of how accurately you made the rest of your selections.

UFC live betting

Live betting is the key difference between online and retail sports betting, and it makes betting online a far distinct activity. Instead of making a bet and waiting to see how it turns out, you can be actively placing other wagers in support of or as a hedge against your initial bets.

Betting on UFC fights is no different in this regard. Although they don’t have a ton of stats associated with them, there are a few elements that you can choose to bet, including:

  • Round Betting: Along with estimating the length of the fight beforehand, you can wager that the fight will end in this round right here, right now. If a fighter appears to be due for a knockout or is in a terrible position on the ground, it’s not hard to believe that the fight will end soon.
  • Punches/Kicks Thrown or Landed: Every fight is different, and some pairings of fighters are either more aggressive or more cautious. Even if two fighters are notoriously strike-happy or not, the conditions can mean various amounts of strikes are coming.
  • Takedowns: Some fighters want to remain standing; others want to hit the ground. The latter group is more likely to attempt a takedown, but there are many reasons every fighter might want to try and wrestle their opponent down. You can bet on the number of times one tries to do so and/or is successful.
  • Knockdowns: These guys and girls hit hard! Sometimes, a fighter will be punched or kicked so hard that they lose their balance. It’s an exciting moment, and it’s something you can expect to happen.
  • Submission Attempts: Submissions are not accidental events. They take a specific set of physical actions, which means that you never have to guess if someone is trying to perform one. So, you can wager about how many times you believe a fighter will try to go for the tap-out.

Be aware that sportsbooks will also allow the fight moneylines to continue into the match itself. However, these are not the same bets! They are now taking the progress of the fight into account, so things like a worrying cut on a fighter or a particularly bad round will affect the listing. Be careful about using your pre-fight analysis after the first punch is thrown.

What’s nice is that you can make these wagers anywhere in Iowa. You can sign up and register at the sportsbook of your choice, and take advantage of live betting from the comfort of your home, office or coffee shop.

Always stick to legal UFC betting sites in Iowa

Sports betting is legal in Iowa in both retail and online sportsbooks. At the time of this writing, there are a half-dozen legal online sportsbooks available on your mobile device and more are likely to follow.

There are several reasons that this group of sportsbooks should be the options from which you choose your sports betting home for UFC fights. It is possible to find other sportsbook options if you do a web search, but these others bear numerous downsides.

For one thing, it is much safer to play via legal sports betting apps and sites. Even if we set aside the fact that most of these books are American-based companies with long histories of honest business, you are protected by both US and Iowa law when you play on them. Furthermore, your funds and financial transactions are safe and secure with legal sites. Each site is licensed and monitored by the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, and you can always report any problem to this agency for a resolution.

You will also find more transaction methods that work for your financial situation. An American sportsbook necessarily contracts with American banking and credit organizations, and you are far more likely to use one of these organizations in other areas of life. They also bear the American standard of consumer protections. Finally, and perhaps somewhat obviously, the customer service that you can get with a legal site is going to exceed that of a non-regulated site. They will be staffed by people familiar with both the language and the method of doing business here in the states. They may even be stationed in Iowa itself.

Sportsbook rules for UFC fights

Although every sportsbook in Iowa is different, the rules for administering betting on UFC matches are virtually the same across the board. The fact that there are so few wagerable aspects of UFC matches means that you’re not going to find too many quirks in the rules. In general, most sportsbook rules defer to the official decisions made in The Octagon. A referee’s stoppage or a judge’s decision is considered to be the final word on the matter, regardless of any controversy surrounding the outcome.

Most “no contest” or “draw” decisions will result in a bet refund. Although these events happen in UFC fights, they are not common enough to count them as a likely outcome. After all, it isn’t soccer.

Top tips for betting on UFC fights

Betting on the UFC can be fun for a wide swath of bettors because, unlike other sports with a ton of statistics to track, there are only a few things to watch. Mostly, you’re betting on which person will beat up the other person. However, we offer a few tips to help you make a better prediction about which fighter will emerge victorious from a UFC match.

  1. Compare the Records: Winning isn’t the only thing, but it’s pretty high on the list. In general, you want to give preference to the fighter who has won more often than the other. Don’t just look at the absolute number of wins, though; look at the ratio of wins to losses. You should also take note of how those wins occurred. Are most of each fighter’s matches ending in knockouts, submissions or decisions?
  2. Examine Record Strength: Like any other sport, a win or loss doesn’t tell the full story. It matters who the fighter has defeated and who has defeated him or her. An undefeated fighter is a formidable foe, but it makes a difference if he or she has acquired those wins in the UFC or smaller promotions.
  3. Consider each Fighter at the Moment: Of all of a fighter’s history, the most relevant is the recent past. Father Time catches up with everyone, and the UFC is littered with examples of former greats who lost a step and became quite vulnerable. You should also look at whether a fighter is returning from a long layoff or injury; MMA requires a unity of mind and body, and changes to either one can have profound impacts on performance.
  4. Understand the Matchup: Although fighters are much more well-rounded and can usually find success both standing and on the ground, everyone tends to have a preference. A fighter with a black belt in Shotokan Karate or a boxer (both strikers) might be less comfortable on the ground. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt or a wrestler (grapplers) could be a liability in the stand-up game. Use the history and records of each fighter to determine their preferences, and take a look to see how their opponents handle those preferences. A BJJ player with several knockout losses might be at a disadvantage to a heavy striker, even if he or she is better on paper. A Muay Thai champion could be in big trouble if the BJJ brown belt can get close and grapple.

Best places to watch and bet on the UFC in Iowa

Since Iowa has online sports betting, you can make wagers on UFC fights wherever you are in the state. So, one of the best things to do is find a terrific sports bar, settle in, order some food and place a few bets on the big-screen fights.

However, it would be impossible to list all of the terrific places that you can watch the fights in the Hawkeye State. So, instead, below are the six largest cities in Iowa and our pick for the top sports bar in each place.

Des Moines

Pick: The Station on Ingersoll, 3124 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines

The Station on Ingersoll is a great place to watch a game, place a bet and relax (or keep wagering with live betting). Although there are other venues in the Des Moines area that have sports bar elements, none of them is as focused on the game day experience.

In terms of your casino options, your closest option for sports betting is Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Altoona. However, you could also drive 45 minutes south to Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola, or a bit over an hour northwest to the Wild Rose in Jefferson. Both Prairie Meadows and Lakeside are affiliated with Caesars, but the Wild Rose uses DraftKings and BetRivers.

Cedar Rapids

Pick: The Blind Pig, 3325 Center Point Road NE, Cedar Rapids

The Blind Pig is probably the best place to relax and watch your picks in Cedar Rapids. Aside from its fantastic name, you can find multiple TVs, a wealth of drink options and excellent food selections.

Despite its status as the second-largest city in Iowa, Cedar Rapids is in a bit of a dead zone for casino properties and retail sportsbooks. If you want to place a bet in person, you can drive about 40 minutes south to Riverside Casino & Golf Resort or about an hour northwest to the Isle Casino & Hotel in Waterloo. Riverside offers betting a Elite Sportsbook, while the Isle has a deal with Caesars.


Pick: Public House, 5150-5198 Northwest Blvd., Davenport

For the right combination of drinks, televisions, and atmosphere, you cannot do better in the Quad Cities than Public House Davenport. The UK-inspired pub has great beverage selections, plenty of things to play and do and beers served in Mason jars.

Davenport must have a solid place to watch the UFC, given the area’s history and impact on mixed martial arts. One of the earliest and most important MMA gyms, Miletich Fighting Systems, is in nearby Bettendorf.

You can also place wagers at the Isle Casino Bettendorf’s sportsbook. The nearby casino is affiliated with top sportsbook provider Caesars.

Sioux City

Pick: One-Eyed Jacks, 3091 Hamilton Blvd., Sioux City

Though there are other great sports bars in Sioux City, we think that One-Eyed Jacks is the right place to go. After all, few other sports bars have a bowling alley next door. One-Eyed Jacks also has plenty of televisions and an ample menu to keep you satisfied.

In terms of retail options, your best bet in Sioux City is the Hard Rock Sioux City, of course. Although both Winnavegas and Blackbird Bend tribal casinos are reasonably short drives down I-29, neither facility has a sportsbook on site. Hard Rock has its own branded sportsbook.

Iowa City

Pick: Players Sports Bar and Grill, 219 Iowa Ave., Iowa City

Although Players Sports Bar and Grill is new to the Iowa City area, it has quickly distinguished itself as the class of places to catch a game. The bar offers a sleek, cool vibe, plenty of televisions, and a great slate of pub food and bar drinks.

Naturally, the best place to find a retail sportsbook around Iowa City is at the nearby Riverside Casino. Riverside has a deal with Elite and offers sports betting through the Bet.Works platform.


Pick: LJ’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill, 3550 Kimball Ave., Waterloo

Waterloo is home to a very solid sports bar in LJ’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill. There are several TVs and the food (at least in pictures) looks delicious.

Of course, if you want the full-scale retail sports betting experience, head to the Isle Casino in town. Isle Casino Waterloo has both land-based and online betting, courtesy of its relationship with sports betting powerhouse Caesars.

Biggest UFC fights of all time

When it comes to big-time UFC fights, there is one name that you have to know: Conor McGregor. The Irish superstar has attracted more eyes to the sport than any other UFC fighter in history, thanks to the combination of his brash personality and his technical-striking expertise.

According to SportBible, the Irishman has been part of five of the top six-most purchased UFC pay-per-view events of all-time. So, in the list below, you’ll quickly see an emerging pattern. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor

  • Event: UFC 229
  • Date: Oct. 6, 2018
  • PPV Buys: 2.4 million

This fight featured the UFC’s all-time biggest star (McGregor), competing against a man considered to be one of, if not the best mixed martial artists of all-time (Nurmagomedov). Nurmagomedov built upon both his reputation and his undefeated record in this clash with McGregor and prevailed via neck crank submission in the second round.

This fight was extremely acrimonious in both the lead-up to it and the post-fight aftermath. McGregor, as he is wont to do, inflamed tensions with the Russian fighter through a barrage of insults and catcalls in the media. So, there was going to be no love lost between the two, but no one could’ve predicted the events that would surround the fight.

McGregor and his team attacked a bus carrying several athletes, including Nurmagomedov, before the match and caused minor injuries. In turn, Nurmagomedov attacked McGregor’s cornerman after the fight and his corner got into scuffles with other McGregor loyalists.

This level of extracurricular activity was unprecedented and led to, among other things, a nine-month suspension for Nurmagomedov from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. However, the draw of seeing two superstars who truly hate each other fight it out pushed the sport beyond anything it’s ever been, before or since.

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II

  • Event: UFC 202
  • Date: Aug. 20, 2016
  • PPV Buys: 1.65 million

If you ever wondered why fight organizations often schedule rematches, here’s an example of why. Until McGregor fought Nurmagomedov two years later, this rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz was the top pay-per-view event in UFC history.

This fight drew so much attention for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the first match between these two men ended surprisingly. McGregor came into the bout as the overwhelming favorite, but Diaz surprised everyone by securing a rear-naked choke submission and victory during the second round.

Both McGregor and Diaz are also brash personalities known to be publicity gold when given a microphone. Seeing two tough-talking fighters go back and forth ginned up a ton of interest.

Many great fighters will find themselves challenged and pushed to greater heights by particular competitors and, in McGregor’s case, his foil appears to be Nate Diaz. He prevailed in this rematch through a majority decision after five rounds of hard-fought action.

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II

  • Event: UFC 100
  • Date: July 11, 2009
  • PPV Buys: 1.6 million

The lone top fight that does not involve Conor McGregor, featured a former (and future) WWE star fighting against the only man who had beaten him. The fact that Brock Lesnar was the UFC heavyweight champion and Frank Mir was the interim champion meant that the anticipation for this rematch was quite high.

The fight also proved interesting because of the clash of styles. Brock Lesnar was a former NCAA wrestling champion, a massive star from the WWE and a hulking brute of a human being. It’s an accepted fact that while he makes the heavyweight weight limit of 265 pounds for his fights, he competes somewhere much closer to 300 pounds and there’s barely any fat on him to be found.

On the other hand, you had Frank Mir, a skilled technician and ring veteran. Mir had distinguished himself with his analytical approach to fighting and the fact that he was one of the only true Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts to compete at heavyweight. Since he’d prevailed in the first match with Lesnar, many believed that he would do so again.

However, this time around, Lesnar’s increased experience level and a touch of caution paid off. He ended the fight via TKO in the second round after pinning Mir to the ground and smashing him with several ham-sized fists to the face.

History of UFC

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) came into being in 1993. The company’s initial goal was, using a series of largely unregulated events, to determine which martial art was superior to the rest. With so much fakery and charlatanism surrounding martial arts at the time, the idea of cutting through the nonsense was appealing.

However, what followed was more spectacle than sport. Early UFC bouts pitted competitors against each other with no thought to weight class or a standard competition outfit. They also took place in a crude eight-sided ring (dubbed “the Octagon”), which enclosed fighters with a chain-link fence.

Because of its lack of standards and, frankly, unmatched brutality, the 1990s version of the UFC was often described as little more than a human cockfight. Television pundits and national-level politicians made numerous entreaties to ban the organization. The promotion dangled on the brink of bankruptcy and extinction until it was purchased by Station Casinos’ owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

In the ensuing two decades and under the care of the Fertittas’ business partner, Dana White, the UFC has phased out the unsavory elements that plagued its early events. Weight classes, standardized attire and compliance with state athletic commissions brought the organization into legitimacy.

Amazingly, the UFC has managed to reverse its reputation to the point that it is, in many ways, a more palatable option than fighting sport stalwart boxing. It is safer than the “sweet science” by numerous scientific studies, including this one. Needless to say, the dawn of sports betting has created a world of opportunities for the now-legitimate organization. In 2019, the UFC partnered with IMG Arena to create an in-fight betting platform called UFC Fight Centre.

The platform is designed to allow bettors to immerse themselves in the fight experience thoroughly. Its implications were appealing enough that sportsbook operator Rush Street Interactive partnered with IMG in October 2020 and will feature UFC Fight Centre and the live feed from fights on both and


The UFC is owned by Endeavor Group Holdings, which owns several talent agencies that serve the movie industry. The company purchased the UFC’s holding company, Zuffa, from the Fertitta brothers in 2016 for $4.025 billion.

Despite the sometimes cartoonish press conferences and interviews that you can see on the UFC, the competitions inside the Octagon are legitimate and real. Each UFC match is certified by the resident athletic commission wherever it is taking place and there are numerous controls designed to root out any malarkey, cheating or match-fixing.

Yes. Prefight moneylines are available on DraftKings Sportsbook for most UFC events. You also have numerous daily fantasy sports (DFS) options for MMA on DraftKings.

If you watch UFC matches with any frequency, you may hear mention of some fighting styles. Some of them may be unfamiliar to you.

One of them, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), is part of almost every UFC fighter’s background. Popularized by early UFC competitor Royce Gracie, BJJ is a ground fighting system that relies upon body positioning, chokeholds and joint locks to subdue an opponent. There are five belts in BJJ (white, blue, purple, brown and black), and any higher belt is likely to be a favorite if the fight goes to the ground.

Muay Thai is a popular striking art that originated, unsurprisingly, in Thailand. The system, also known as Thai boxing, famously incorporates the use of strikes from elbows and knees as well as fists and feet. Because of this feature, Muay Thai is often called the “art of eight limbs,” and its practitioners tend to be quite skilled when the fight is standing.

Although most UFC matches end decisively, there may be a lack of a clear winner or an unusual stoppage. In both cases, the sportsbook will almost always return all bets, but you should check your sportsbook’s rules before you start betting.

Draws occur when the judges’ scorecards end in ties. A no-contest ruling occurs when an accidental illegal move renders one competitor unable to continue, such as a head-butt or groin strike.

Incidentally, a disqualification is considered a loss as decisive as a knockout. So, if your chosen fighter tends to bad behavior, you should factor his or her DQ risk into your bet.