MMA And Sports Betting: A Match Made In Heaven — And Las Vegas
At UFC 235 last weekend at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, veteran welterweight fighter Robbie Lawler nearly pounded former Olympic wrestler and 2/1 favorite Ben Askren to a first-round TKO victory. But Askren, making his first UFC look, managed to endure Lawler’s early onslaught of head and body shots, and about two minutes later, at 3:20 in the first round, finished the comeback, finishing it with a bulldog choke.
Respected referee Herb Dean saw Lawler’s arm dangle limp while he tried to extricate himself from the choke, causing Dean to stop the struggle in what goes down as a submission win for Askren. While contentious and unfortunate for Lawler (and his backers), it was clear, and the popular Lawler immediately turned from aggrieved to praising Dean and expressing his own understanding (transcript here.)
The NFL is the king of U.S sports betting, but combined martial arts offers something different, in some ways better and more intriguing, and really controversial occasionally, like each game. Certain occasions, even for a marginally niche game now in its first year of a supply deal on ESPN platforms, can generate the betting handle seen in a good NFL game.
“Everyone understands a struggle”
Exposure to more mainstream audiences via ESPN and FOX Sports 1, via an earlier deal, proceeds to increase MMA’s profile. To get for this point, UFC and other promotions such as Bellator have embraced and understood the participation value of sports gambling.
“The UFC was on the forefront of sports wagering content,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology, told Sports Manage. “They chased it by adding chances on the websites on telecasts. Along with the announcers will cite the betting favorites during the conflicts. They also have their own produced betting show that airs before each pay-per-view on UFC Fight Pass, which helps.”
The PGA Tour, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and National Hockey League likewise have”evolved” since the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 national ban on full scale sports wagering outside Nevada. Every one of the commissioners of these leagues currently tout the merits of greater involvement anyhow sports wagering, manufacture new monetization opportunities, and enjoy those that have come.
But while every one of those leagues, especially MLB, seek to build new sports gambling bridges with proprietary Statcast characters, for example, there’s no learning curve to start betting on mixed martial arts.
“I think it comes right down to it turned into a fight. And what I mean by that is that if you’re managing a lot of other sports, you are dealing with lots of factors, the nuances of football, baseball, basketball,” veteran MMA writer-reporter Damon Martin told Sports Handle. “And there’s a guttural instinct in everyone when it comes down to it.
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