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 victory. However Askren, making his first UFC appearance, managed to survive Lawler’s early onslaught of head and body shots, and about two minutes after, at 3:20 in the initial round, finished the comeback, finishing it with a bulldog choke.
Respected referee Herb Dean saw Lawler’s arm dangle limp while he attempted to extricate himself in the choke, causing Dean to stop the struggle in what goes down as a entry win for Askren. While controversial and unfortunate for Lawler (along with his backers), it was understandable, and also the popular Lawler quickly 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 provides something different, in some ways better and more exciting, and really controversial occasionally, like every sport. Certain occasions, even for a marginally market sport now in its very first year of a distribution deal on ESPN platforms, can generate the betting 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. To get for this point, UFC and other promotions such as Bellator have long embraced and understood the engagement value of sports betting.
“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 adding chances on the sites on telecasts. Along with the announcers will mention the gambling favorites throughout the fights. They also have their personal 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-fledged sports wagering outside Nevada. Every one of the commissioners of these leagues now tout the merits of increased involvement courtesy sports wagering, manufacture new monetization opportunities, and enjoy those that have already come.
However, while each of these leagues, especially MLB, attempt to build new sports gambling bridges using proprietary Statcast figures, for instance, there’s no learning curve to begin gambling on mixed martial arts.
“I think it comes down to it being a struggle. And what I mean by that is that if you’re managing a lot of different sports, then you are dealing with lots of factors, the nuances of football, 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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