MMA has eclipsed boxing. First it showed in general interest on the Net. Then it was PPV buys. Then number of bouts and regulated fighters. Then stadium gate. Now, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun, MMA has taken over at the Vegas sports books.
As recently as two years ago, sports book directors didn’t know what to make of the UFC.
The promotion hailed mixed martial arts as the fastest growing sport in the world, but the public wasn’t stepping up to Las Vegas betting windows enough to match the hype. That has changed.
“The action has gone up like you wouldn’t believe in UFC,” said Mike Colbert, sports book director for books at The M, Hard Rock, The Cosmopolitan and Tropicana. “On these Saturdays when we have these UFC cards, we do massive handles.”
Colbert said an average UFC event would bring in four times the number of bets as an average boxing card.
“You’re talking to an absolute boxing guy here, and I will be the first to admit that UFC is more popular betting-wise,” Colbert said. “I never thought I’d see the day where it’s this popular.”
“In boxing, most people can’t even tell you who is on the undercard,” said Jay Rood, sports book director of MGM Resorts International. “If you go to an MMA card, the buzz in the crowd and prior to that could be just as much about one of the first fights on the card ... The great thing about MMA is people are going for all the fights.”
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