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 favourite Ben Askren into a first-round TKO victory. However Askren, making his first UFC appearance, managed to endure 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 watched Lawler’s arm limp while he attempted to extricate himself from the choke, causing Dean to stop the struggle in what goes down as a submission win for Askren. While controversial and unfortunate for Lawler (and his backers), it was understandable, and the popular Lawler immediately 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 better and more exciting, and really controversial occasionally, same as every game. Certain events, even for a somewhat market game now in its very first year of a distribution deal on ESPN platforms, can create the gambling handle seen in an excellent NFL game.
“Everyone understands a fight”
Exposure to more mainstream audiences through ESPN and FOX Sports 1, through a previous deal, continues to increase MMA’s profile. For for this point, UFC and other promotions like Bellator have long embraced and understood the participation value of sports betting.
“The UFC was on the forefront of sport wagering content,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology, told Sports Manage. “They chased it by including chances on the websites on telecasts. Along with the announcers will mention the betting favorites during the conflicts. They also have their own produced gaming show which airs before every pay-per-view on UFC Fight Pass, which helps.”
The PGA Tour, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and National Hockey League alike have”evolved” because the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 national ban on full-fledged sports wagering outside Nevada. Each of the commissioners of those leagues now tout the virtues of increased involvement anyhow sports wagering, fabricate new monetization opportunities, and delight in the ones that have come.
But while each of those leagues, especially MLB, attempt to build new sports gambling bridges using proprietary Statcast figures, as an example, there’s no learning curve to start betting on mixed martial arts.
“I think it comes down to it turned into a fight. And what I mean by that is that if you’re dealing with a lot of other sports, you’re dealing with a lot of factors, the nuances of soccer, baseball, basketball,” veteran MMA writer-reporter Damon Martin told Sports Manage. “And there is a guttural instinct in everybody when it comes down to it.
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