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The LA Times talks about betting on boxing and mixed martial arts

By Zach Arnold | December 5, 2008

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Kevin Baxter & Lance Pugmire have a very good article today talking about the differences in demographics between boxing fans and MMA fans. The focus of the article is on gambling, and how boxing’s fan base as it currently stands is still a much more lucrative play for Las Vegas than MMA fans because MMA fans are, to put it bluntly, not big high-rollers willing to throw away all of their cash like boxing’s older crowd.

There’s plenty of healthy skepticism, as noted in the LA Times article, about the viability of MMA (or, in this case, MMA = UFC). The feeling is that it’s a fad, but a fad with a growing upside in an economy that’s in a recession right now. In other words, there seems to be conflicting opinions all over the board regarding whether or not MMA will supplant boxing as the big-money gambling golden goose in Las Vegas. (I have my doubts about that.)

The LA Times article points out the huge disparity between boxers and MMA fighters as far as salaries are concerned. However, the obvious elephant in the room is the economic models that the two industries employ. Long-term, you would have to think that UFC’s model is a winner because they are able to control costs and exposure for the fighters they employ.

As far as the gambling aspect of MMA is concerned, there’s an easy reason why there’s room for growth — because the perception is that MMA fans follow the undercard fights intently, hence are more likely to bet on undercard fights as opposed to boxing fans who bet primarily on main events and/or semi-mains only of big shows. If you can bet on 10 different fights on an MMA card, chances are you’re more likely going to pick your spots, see which underdogs are good plays, and go from there. As Charles Jay once pointed out to me, MMA is still a newer sport for the oddsmakers to follow (and a tougher one to predict), so there’s still some very easy scores to be made betting-wise that you might not be able to get while betting on boxing.

I will be curious to see how much money ends up getting bet (in total) on this Saturday’s fight between Oscar De La Hoya & Manny Pacquiao. I’m also intrigued by how much is being bet on the online sportsbooks as opposed to the brick & mortar establishments.

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Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “The LA Times talks about betting on boxing and mixed martial arts”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    The UFC pays the undercard fighters much better and gives them more stability. Yes, the top boxers make more, but that also leads to lesser quality umdercards. This is the direct reason boxing is a minor sport in America right now. As a fan and somebody who wants to see long term success, I would take the UFC model any day of the week.

    As for Vegas, I would say the GENERAL MMA fan is more educated and therefore less likely to bet their bank account on one fight. In no way am I saying that all boxing fans are uneducated.

  2. Fluyid says:

    “This is the direct reason boxing is a minor sport in America right now”

    I think that the lack of attention given to undercard matchups is definitely a reason for boxing’s decline in stature, but I don’t believe that it’s the only reason or even the main reason.

    As for this “UFC model,” I think that is more myth than reality in most cases.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Oh, I agree. I didn’t say it was the only reason… Just that it is a direction reason for the decline.

    Other direct reasons are perceived (and actual) corruption and boxing only being on PPV or Pay Channels.

  4. D.Capitated says:

    Undercard MMA fighters don’t make more than boxers on undercards. That’s is an absurd assertion, and how much fighters are paid has nothing to do with the popularity. I guarantee you that Mayweather made more against Baldomir than any MMA fighter has ever made in one night ever, even though it only did 330,000 buys.

    The problems with boxing are many. Someone should write a book about it someday….

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    “Undercard MMA fighters don’t make more than boxers on undercards.”

    You are joking, right?

  6. D.Capitated says:

    “Undercard MMA fighters don’t make more than boxers on undercards.”

    You are joking, right?

    No, I’m not. There is literally no way in hell that Mike Alvarado is making less than Tamdan McCrory.

  7. kw says:

    I am a fan of both MMA and Boxing yet I rarely bet on the former anymore. The unpredictable nature of the sport removes any advantage I’ve gained by closely following the fighters. While this is also true of Boxing it’s to a much lesser degree.

    I plan on wagering around $200-$300 in various bets on the De La Hoya/Pacquiao fight tomorrow.

  8. skwirrl says:

    yeah I have 250 playing for Pacman

  9. skwirrl says:

    By the time a fighter is a contender in any weight class, (once they are on TV), they are making near million dollar paydays. David Diaz, (ranked something like #5 at LW at the time now ranked #16 by Boxrec), made 800K to get annihilated by Manny Pacquiao earlier this year.

    The really low level guys make about the same as low level MMA guys. But your top 10 – 20 in boxing gets paid ridiculously more than your top 10 – 20 in MMA.

  10. skwirrl says:

    Also, these more educated MMA fans you speak of Huddle… Are these the same ones that boo, start fights in the stands and talk shit to fighters for not standing toe to toe and beating each others brains out in a sloppy kickboxing contest??? You know – the ones that fill every single arena at every non Japan event?

    Many boxing fans would probably have something to say about that, but they are generally too busy respectfully and attentively watching the sportsmen they paid to good money to see, ply their craft. When we’re done watching boxing we’ll help you UFC fans boo that cage fighter cause hes trying to hump that guys leg on the ground.

    Pretty much when I dont hear booing during a good fight for an entire event I’ll maybe give the general MMA fan credit for some intelligence.


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