Two years ago, the sports betting analysts from Pinnacle revealed that UFC betting favorites win almost two-thirds of the time. They analyzed 558 bouts in total and saw that 370 were won by fighters with shorter odds than their rivals.
That accounts for 62.43% of UFC fights, but that number is even higher when it comes to odds-on favorites, those with odds of -110 or shorter. When it comes to huge favorites with odds of -400 or shorter, they tend to win in 80% of the fights.
Favorites win most of the time in the UFC, but sometimes they fail miserably. And their failures are stuck in the memory of both fans and bettors. In this post, we will present some of the biggest betting upsets in the UFC, which saw absolute favorites get smashed by underdogs.
Shana Dobson Def. Mariya Agapova – Biggest Overall Upset in the UFC History
Mariya Agapova was a -1400 favorite before the duel with Shana Dobson at UFC on ESPN 15 in August 2022. But in round 2, Dobson, a +950 underdog, shocked the world and beat her opponent by technical knockout.
This remains the most significant betting upset in the UFC. No +950 underdog before or after Dobson has managed to overcome such long pre-fight odds.
There were, however, some instances with fighters becoming huge underdogs during the match only to cause a massive upset in the closing moments of the fight. Probably the best example is the Leon Edwards KO win over Kamaru Usman in the final minute of the fifth round.
Leon Edwards Def. Kamaru Usman – Biggest In-Play Betting Upset in the UFC
Only a few weeks after witnessing Dobson’s upset, UFC fans were left shocked once again. It happened in the main event of UFC 278, in which Kamaru Usman was defending his welterweight title for the sixth time. Oddsmakers thought he would do it, given the odds of -357 before the fight.
For over 24 minutes, it seemed they were right. He was destroying his opponent for more than four rounds, making five takedowns (and suffering just one), as well as landing 83 significant strikes (almost 30 more than Edwards). As a result, Usman’s live odds went all the way to -5000 at one point.
But then, at 4:04 on the clock in the fourth round, Leon Edwards did the impossible – he landed a superb head kick that put his rival to sleep.
Those who had faith in Rocky to pull off a late upset made big money that evening. The in-play odds on Edwards were somewhere in the ballpark of +1000.
Honorable Mention: Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev Draw
The UFC was launched in 1993, and it took ten years before the MMA promotion saw a draw happening. It was February 2003 when the judges scored the B.J. Penn vs. Caol Uno as a tie. Over the following 20 years, another 49 draws happened, including four in a championship fight.
One happened in the Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in December 2022. Ankalaev entered the Octagon as a -400 favorite, while Blachowicz was priced at +309. Meanwhile, the odds for a draw were +5000 at some betting sites, suggesting that such a scenario was unlikely.
But it did happen. After 25 minutes of intense fighting, the judges declared the fight a split decision draw – one judge scored in favor of Blachowicz, another scored for Ankalaev, and the third went for a draw.