Fighters have been looking to add to their net worth over the past 11 years and have decided cross-promotional fights between stars would bring in big numbers. The 2017 fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and martial arts star Conor McGregor produced 4.3 million domestic buys, which was the second highest of all-time behind Mayweather’s fight vs. Manny Pacquaio two years earlier. Each fighter earned over $100 million from the fight.
Much like betting NFL lines, there is more betting interest when events have charismatic stars leading events. But there is a danger lurking with cross-promotional events. There is a natural mismatch built in. McGregor had never boxed before, despite his championship accolades in the UFC.
Mayweather was a -2,500 favorite on BetUS and was never seriously challenged by the Irishman, who was an 11-to-1 underdog. It is important for anyone betting any of these fights to read the rules and do research into how engaged the combatants are before money is put down.
Evander Holyfield, five weeks shy of his 59th birthday, decided to accept a heavyweight fight against MMA standout Vitor Belfort on eight days’ notice. Despite Holyfield being well past his prime and not appearing in shape during his pre-fight workouts, was installed as a +200 underdog. Belfort, who had 40 MMA fights to his record, had only boxed once previously, a knockout over fellow Brazilian Josemario Neves in 2006.
Belfort sent Holyfield back into retirement quickly, knocking out Holyfield at the 1 minute, 49 second mark of the first round.
There was great interest when former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson agreed to come back and box in 2020 vs. former multi-division champion Roy Jones Jr. Leading up to the fight, there was a lot of chatter about whether there would be a betting line on the exhibition through sportsbooks like BetUS or not. Ultimately, lines were posted, but there were stories before the fight that there wouldn’t be judges and no knockouts would be allowed due to the ages of the participants.
Three former world boxing champions scored the bout and came up with a split draw, with one judge scoring the fight for each fighter and the third declaring the bout in a draw. Much like the latter half of Tyson’s competitive career, the ending was chaotic.
Claressa Shields came to the Professional Fighting League as a multi-division boxing champion and American hero at the Olympics. Shields wanted to wade into MMA in order to make more money. What happened was bizarre matchmaking putting their new star in vulnerable positions.
Shields has fought two MMA fights so far and both times the PFL matched her up with fighters who were primarily grapplers. In the first fight, Shields was taken down several times by Brittney Elkin and was likely behind on the cards when she won the fight by knockout in the third round. The second fight was even worse with Abigail Montes winning a split decision where she took Shields down and won an ugly fight. How much the loss will impact Shields’ future is difficult to discern.
Boxing champion James Toney signed with the UFC at age 42, looking to transition into the sport. These fights were ones the promotion had shied away from as they moved away from being “human cockfighting” and into a more regulated sport. The UFC didn’t make things easy for Toney in his debut.
At UFC 118 in 2010, the promotion matched Toney up with MMA legend Randy Couture, who had been a two-division champion. Couture took Toney down early in the fight and ended up getting Toney to submit to an arm-triangle choke late in the first round.
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