February 4, 2011
You bet MMA is popular in Vegas
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
LAS VEGAS — What would be the point of holding UFC event after UFC event in the casino capital of the world if it didn’t have appeal at the betting windows?
And the more mixed martial arts goes mainstream, the more a gambler’s bankroll is devoted to it.
“The UFC has become really popular here, almost to the point where it’s surpassed boxing now,” says Chuck Esposito, a sportsbook executive at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos here on the Vegas strip. “There’s still some mega fights that draw, but overall UFC has pretty much become bigger than boxing.”
Though Saturday’s big card will be held down the strip at Mandalay Bay, the Palazzo will have a big UFC party in its Lagasse Stadium, one of the hippest sports books in Vegas. With bettors plunging on the Super Bowl, it will make for a lively atmosphere around the city.
As for the main event, middleweight champion Anderson Silva is a whopping minus-300 favourite over challenger and fellow Brazilian, Vitor Belfort.
In the “co” main event between a pair of American light heavyweights, Rich Franklin is the minus-160 favourite over Forrest Griffin.