At UFC 235 this past weekend in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, veteran welterweight fighter Robbie Lawler nearly pounded former Olympic wrestler and 2/1 favourite Ben Askren to a first-round TKO success. However Askren, making his first UFC appearance, managed to survive Lawler’s early onslaught of body and head shots, and about two minutes later, at 3:20 in the initial round, completed the comeback, finishing it with a bulldog choke.
Respected referee Herb Dean saw Lawler’s arm limp while he attempted to extricate himself from the choke, causing Dean to halt the struggle in what goes down as a submission win for Askren. While controversial and unlucky for Lawler (along with his backers), it was clear, and the popular Lawler quickly turned from aggrieved to praising Dean and expressing his understanding (transcript here.)
The NFL is the king of U.S sports betting, but mixed martial arts provides something different, in some ways much better and more exciting, and indeed controversial at times, same as each sport. Certain events, even for a marginally market game now in its very first year of a supply deal on ESPN platforms, can generate the gambling handle seen in an excellent NFL game.
“Everyone knows a fight”
Exposure to more mainstream audiences through ESPN and FOX Sports 1, through a previous deal, continues to raise MMA’s profile. To get to this this point, UFC and other promotions like 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, informed Sports Handle. “They chased it by including odds on the websites on telecasts. And the announcers will cite the betting favorites during the fights. They also have their own produced gaming show which airs before every pay-per-view on UFC Fight Pass, which assists.”
The PGA Tour, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and National Hockey League alike have”evolved” since the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 national ban on full scale sports wagering out Nevada. Each of the commissioners of these leagues currently tout the merits of increased engagement courtesy sports wagering, manufacture new monetization opportunities, and delight in the ones that have come.
However, while each of those leagues, particularly MLB, seek to construct new sports gambling bridges with proprietary Statcast characters, for example, there’s no learning curve to begin gambling on combined martial arts.
“I think it comes right down to it being a fight. And what I mean by that is that if you’re dealing with a lot of different sports, you are dealing with lots of factors, the nuances of soccer, baseball, basketball,” veteran MMA writer-reporter Damon Martin told Sports Handle. “And there is a guttural instinct in everybody when it comes down to it.
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