The sport of Mixed Martial Arts has been around for several decades, with major organizations such as PRIDE and UFC gaining massive popularity with the worldwide audience. While this rise in popularity comes partially from the massive amounts of advertising in mainstream media, bookies also played a major part in popularizing the sport.
Most important in the relationship between MMA and gaming are certainly the sportsbooks which have spent lots of time and money advertising MMA betting. However, MMA organizations and fighters have also developed various mutually beneficial relationships with online casinos and other gaming operators over the years, establishing a strong bond between MMA and games of chance.
In fact, it could be argued that many of the MMA fights are somewhat dependent on people betting on them, as much of the interest for the sport comes from people who are looking to place some money on one of the fighters and enjoy the bloody spectacle.
Today, we look at the relationship between MMA and the sports betting and casino operators from various angles in an attempt to discover how useful and productive the relationship is for both sides.
An Example of Fruitful Collab: Betsafe Deals with MMA Fighters
Betsafe is one of the leading online sportsbooks, especially when it comes to MMA fights. Over the years, the sports betting operator has made numerous deals with particular MMA fighters and organizations which benefited both the bookie and the fighters in different ways.
Back in late 2016, Betsafe started building its presence in the MMA by signing a contract with Mohsen Bahari, a cage fighter who was about to perform in a match as part of “Cage Warriors”. Just months later, Betsafe became the official betting partner of Cage Warriors, making the relationship between MMA and Betsafe a very solid one.
Later in 2017, Betsafe signed a deal that brought them even more into the spotlight as it was signed with none other than Conor McGregor. This deal saw the Betsafe logo promoted at the world famous match between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, one of the most lucrative sporting events of all time.
With this deal and its general presence in the world of MMA, Betsafe made itself one of the best known gambling operators in the world and certainly the most famous one among the fans of the mixed martial arts.
MMA Betting Driving the Industry
In many ways, sports betting is one of the most important driving forces behind MMA. Deals such as the one Betsafe made with Cage Warriors and Conor McGregor are extremely important to the sport as such, as most of the sport’s revenue is generated from marketing. While non-gambling brands are certainly also included in sponsoring MMA fights, online gaming operators are constantly taking a bigger interest in MMA as well.
This is certainly not to say that gambling operators that sponsor MMA are not getting their money’s worth either. During the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight Betsafe stood head to head with the likes of Reebok in the digital content engagement numbers, even though Betsafe was not a direct sponsor of the event. It happened rather because of the fact that McGregor was an ambassador of the brand for some time and wore the shorts with their logo.
Based on all the available information, it would seem that the relationship between gaming operators and MMA fighters is mutually beneficial as long as it stays on sponsorships. Some fighters, however, also enjoy casino games and in a most recent case with amateur fighter Hany Sbat this proved to be somewhat tragic.
Hany Sbat Takes on 12 Security Guards
Melbourne’s Crown Casino was the scene of the unfortunate incident that saw Lebanese amateur MMA fighter Hany Sbat and 12 security guards get into a fight. The incident was caused by the fighter being denied access and getting clearly upset about it. When the security guards decided to intervene, the fighter used his professional abilities and managed to break one security guard’s nose before being taken down by the others.
While MMA fighters are usually known as a peaceful bunch and true sportsmen, Sbat was not thinking clearly when he caused the incident that cost him 2,500 AUD in fines and a lot of bad press and reputation.
Live casinos have been known to refuse access to players over the decades for many reasons including bad behavior, breaking the dress code or cheating in casino games to name just a few. While most people simply take the casino’s decision at face value, Lebanese fighter responded in an unprofessional manner that may cost him a lot during his future career.
Regardless of this single unfortunate incident, the bond between gaming operators and MMA has never been stronger. As the sport continues to gain in popularity, we can only expect more operators to get involved with the fighters and organizations through sponsorship deals and endorsements of all types.