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Trading Shots: On strange betting odds and fears of a fix, MMAjunkie

Trading Shots: On strange betting odds and fears of a fix Trading Shots: On strange betting odds and fears of a fix

In this week’s Trading Shots, MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC/WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss the strange betting lines swing that prompted fears of a fix at UFC Fight Night 79, and what such shenanigans could mean for MMA.

Fowlkes: If you were paying close attention to prelim betting odds at UFC Fight Night 79 (and I know you were, Danny, you degenerate), you might have noticed something odd. Tae Hyun Bang, who opened as an almost 2-1 favorite against Leo Kuntz, suddenly became a +240 underdog just prior to fight time.

The odds swung so dramatically that many sportsbooks reportedly stopped accepting wagers on the fight, supposedly fearing a fix. And you can see why they might fear it, since what could make so much late money come in on a prelim fight for a Fight Pass card in Seoul?

Judging by the fight itself, the fix did not seem to be in. Bang, who said later he’d had a tough weight cut, fought hard and won a split-decision (though he seemed more than a little surprised to hear his name called).

But it got me thinking, considering how poorly most prelim fighters are paid, is it inevitable that eventually someone in the UFC will take a dive in order to cash in via alternative means? Do you think it’s already happened, and we just don’t know about it?

Downes: Wow Ben, how does that tin foil hat of yours protect you from Montana winters?

As far as your question, I wouldn’t call it “inevitable,” but I do admit it’s possible. If NBA referees can conspire to shave points and Pete Rose can bet on baseball games, it’s feasible that an MMA fighter would take a dive. But just because it’s feasible doesn’t mean it’s probable.

The only way a fighter could really cash in on something like that is if he were a heavy favorite. Even then you’re looking at a lot of capital you’d have to have upfront to pull it off. If the reason for taking a dive were for monetary gain, this same person with money troubles would have to raise enough to make the payout worth it. That’s not even taking into account the ego of a professional fighter. If Butch Coolidge couldn’t do it, what makes you think this anonymous fighter could?

As for the second part of your question, depends who you ask. Some people say that PRIDE was filled with fixed fights (and steroids). When it comes to matters of PRIDE, I defer to you. Someone who has the DVDs and the posters hanging on his walls would surely know the answer to that. Even if we eventually found out that a UFC fight was fixed, does that change anything? Isn’t it such a small percentage that it doesn’t mean anything to the sport as a whole?

Fowlkes: Let’s start with the how, then move to the why, and then I’ll circle back and deal with your “small percentage” argument.

You mentioned Butch Coolidge, the fictitious boxer portrayed by Bruce Willis in “Pulp Fiction.” Remember how that fix happened (or, you know, was supposed to happen)? It wasn’t that Butch had a bunch of cash he decided to bet on himself. It was that he wanted a bunch of cash because he was a broke journeyman fighter nearing the end of his run.

Then an organized crime figure stepped in, gave him an envelope of money, and told him that in the fifth his (behind) was going down. This organized crime figure likely intended to cash in on that investment by making various bets that, altogether, would total more than what he paid Butch.

This is not an unrealistic scenario, Danny. In fact, the scene where a gangster pays a boxer to take a dive is probably the most realistic plot point in that whole movie. And the less a fighter stands to earn in victory, the less you have to offer him in order to make a dive seem like a sound financial decision.

So what stops it? Ego and pride (which, according to Marsellus Wallace, only hurts and never helps), that’s a big part of it. So too is the fighter’s unyielding faith that some day he’ll break into the big time and the money will show up on its own. For the vast majority of fighters, those forces alone are enough. Others? Maybe they just haven’t heard the right offer yet.

It could be that the most reliable safeguard in place is the response of the sportsbooks. With so little action on most prelim fights, particularly on an unheralded fight card, it probably wouldn’t take much money to swing the odds, which eventually sounds some alarms. You’d have to get your money down all at once, in big chunks, before the sportsbooks could shut down wagering. You’d also have to rely on your fighter to go through with it even after the promoter gets wind of this suspicious movement and comes by to give him a little pep talk.

But, hey, if it only happens once or twice, no biggie, right? Wrong. If it happened once or twice, especially in a way that called attention to itself, it’d be a huge scandal. It would call the integrity of this young sport into question. It might also highlight the low pay for most of the rank-and-file fighters, making us wonder, once we have the benefit of hindsight, how we ever thought this wouldn’t happen.

Downes: Correct me if I’m wrong here, but it sounds like on the next paragraph you’ll say something like, “the only way to combat this doomsday scenario is by paying fighters more.” I certainly agree with the idea that fighters need greater compensation, but I think you’re forcing a premise here. I’m willing to admit that any person is capable of anything (for the right price). That doesn’t mean, however, that a scenario is more or less likely.

Marsellus Wallace had an angle. What’s the angle on your Bang-Kuntz conspiracy? You should consider running for political office for the way you’re trying to manufacture outrage. Even if we find out one day that the curtain-jerker fight at the TUF Latin American 10 Finale had been fixed, I don’t see how that changes the sport as a whole.

Whether it’s Bellator, UFC, or some regional promotion, each fight card is made of individual fights and individual fighters. The only thing Bang-Kuntz had in common with Henderson-Masvidal was that they took place in the same cage — separate people, separate training camps, separate everything. What does one have to do with the other?

I realize relying on fighters’ pride and lack of self-awareness aren’t the best safeguards, but what’s the alternative? Every other major sports league, most of whom have waaaaaaay more money on the line than the UFC, find a way survive.

Fowlkes: To be clear, I’m not saying the Bang-Kuntz fight (man, that never gets old) was fixed. You watch it, and there’s nothing fishy about it. But after the strange shift in odds and the questions that followed it, we had to wait until the punches started flying before we could be confident that it was on the level.

My point is, we haven’t paid much attention to that potential problem, at least in the UFC, maybe because we think we don’t need to. But sports like MMA are especially vulnerable to fixes.

To fix an NFL game you need some major co-conspirators, most of whom are making excellent money already. In fight sports, it only takes one person to decide to do it. The only sport more vulnerable is tennis since that one person doesn’t even have to get convincingly beaten up to throw a match. And guess what? Tennis has a recognized problem with match-fixing, particularly among poorly paid players in lower level matches.

As for what one fixed prelim fight would have to do with the main event, I think that’s the wrong question. I don’t think we want a sport where we console ourselves with the knowledge that the prelims might be fixed, but never the main event. I also don’t think we want a sport where we have to wait until the fight starts to know if it’s for real.

You’re right that there’s no way to guard against it completely. Eventually, it will probably happen in the UFC. Maybe it already has. All I’m saying is that the more you pay the fighters, the harder someone else has to work to pay them enough not to do their jobs.

Downes: The reason anyone throws a fight or fixes a game is greed. You never hear about a guy throwing a fight because he was trying to save a bus full of school children. Someone prone to that level of greed doesn’t care how much money they have. Wall Street bankers make more money than any athlete. They still had a greed problem.

It would make intuitive sense that an athlete making millions of dollars is far less likely to jeopardize his career than someone making $8,000. But you could also argue that the person capable of doing that would always want “more” regardless of his contracted amount.

Fighters deserve more money. It might serve as a deterrent to your alleged/potential/conceivable fight fixing, but that’s at the end of a long list of reasons.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who also writes for and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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Not loving Floyd Mayweather vs

Not loving Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor odds? Prop bets might be the way to go Not loving Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor odds? Prop bets might be the way to go

(This is the third installment of a three-part series on the gambling aspect of the “The Money Fight” between boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC champ Conor McGregor. Check out Part 1 and Part 2.)

You can’t escape the media storm. If you’ve turned on a TV, opened a laptop, or scrolled down on your tablet or phone, you’ve been bombarded by Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. You’ve been inundated with a 24/7 media flood of analysis, speculation, and news, no matter how trivial (Headline: Dave Chappelle explains why he won’t be attending…). You’ve seen clips of press conferences featuring a tatted-up Irishman in three-piece suits and furs wagging his finger at a smack-talking American draped in his vanity brand of sportswear and sunglasses inside. All this hullabaloo leading up to what most oddsmakers believe is a farcical mismatch between combatants from two wildly different sports trying to fit an octagon into a square.

Compared to the hype, the fight itself is almost an afterthought.

A $150,000 bet on Conor McGregor? Betting on his Floyd Mayweather fight is getting wacky

The result of the main event is also something of a sideshow for casinos and gambling websites. Most gambling establishments make their big money on casual bettors throwing a few bucks on the line. But the long odds favoring Mayweather are bound to scare away big casual bets on McGregor while simultaneously taking the sport out of betting on the boxer. So to stir up action and attract the amateur gamblers, oddsmakers are loading up on smaller, proposition bets.

“Prop bets are profitable if you book it right,” MGM Resorts Vice President of Race and Sports Jay Rood told MMAjunkie. “An event like this presents a ton of wagering opportunities.”

Rood says bettors will be looking for an edge betting for Mayweather winning by knockout instead of decision. They can try to predict which round and minute McGregor goes down in, or, if they’re game, when he’ll spring the upset. Maybe they just hope the MMA fighter can go the distance. They can also be the under/over on the scorecards. Skeptics of the whole endeavor can even bet on whether or not the fight will actually happen.

When it comes to prop bets, clandestine casinos are at a bit of an advantage. Due to strict oversight by the gaming commissions, brick-and-mortar operations have to be careful to only pick scenarios that are concrete and can be defended in front of the gaming board. They must steer clear of gaming disputes.

Want to wager more on Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight? Check out these prop bets

Meanwhile, the offshore gambling sites can sit back, put their feet up, and create odds on pretty much anything they can think of.

“Off-shores are able to be creative as they possibly can to capitalize on the traditional market,” says Todd Fuhrman, gaming insider for Fox Sports and CBS. “The only thing that limits your ability to take bets is your creativity.”

Even the ring itself is not a boundary. How many pay-per-view buys will the fight attract? Will McGregor walk out to his “Billionaire Strut” theme music? Will the WBC award the so-called “Diamond Belt” to the winner? And several sites are moving past fight night and focusing on the promotion.

“The true event is the promotion,” Diamond Sportsbook odds consultant Anthony Albanese said. “It’s all about entertainment value. We have two great entertainers at these press conferences — that’s where they’re more competitive.” handicapped these scenarios:

  • Will Conor McGregor throw an object at Floyd Mayweather during the press conference?
  • Who will use the f-word first? (McGregor -625)
  • Will Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather storm out of the press conference?
  • Will either Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather be knocked out during the press conference?

“With prop bets, you’re always looking for storylines,”’s Scott Cooley said. “There are storylines everywhere with these two characters.”

So far, Cooley and his cohorts have taken bets on whether or not either fighter will test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or whether or not McGregor brings up Mayweather’s domestic assault charge on social media. Getting too creative can be dicey, but Cooley says it’s usually worth the risk to the bookmaker. After all, stories about the wild prop bets (like this one) can quickly get sucked up and blown out of the publicity hurricane that has formed around the eye of this pseudo-event.

“Those types of bets are difficult because everyone has social media,” says Cooley. “The fighters could see that and decide to affect the outcome. Sharp players usually always win on those sorts of bets, but that’s why we set low limits. Even if we lose a few thousand here and there, it gets us the exposure we’re looking for. It’s a good marketing tool. That’s why we try to be the first one’s out there with these crazy bets.”

Tony Rehagen is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, GQ, espnW and others. Follow him on Twitter @trehagen.

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Fixed Odds Betting Explained

Fixed Odds Betting Explained

Fixed odds are the most popular form of betting and it's the type of bet most people understand. In its most basic form you are betting on the outcome of an event – a good example would be a football game where you can bet on the home team to win the match, the away team to win, or the match to be drawn, all of which have specific odds.

The amount of money you can win is determined by the bookmaker at the time you place the bet. If you bet £10 on Manchester United to beat Liverpool at 2/1, you would win £20, plus you will get back your original £10 stake, giving you a return of £30. The maximum you can lose on a fixed odds bet is your original stake which in this case would be £10. You can add two or more fixed odds bets to build what is known as an ‘accumulator'. These accumulators come in many forms. 2x bets are known as ‘doubles' and 3x bets are ‘triples'.

In horse racing it is common to have large accumulator bets such as a ‘Trixie' which is a full-cover multiple bet made up of three selections for different races. It consists of three doubles and one treble. You have to win a minimum of two selections to receive a return.

If that sounds complicated then take a look at a ‘Super Yankee' bet. A Super Yankee is a full-cover multiple bet made up of 5 selections in different races. A Super Yankee is made up of 26 bets – 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds and 1 accumulator. You have to win a minimum of two selections to receive a return.

Accumulators are popular due to the fact that they can yield big returns for very low stakes as the money you win on one race or match is then added to the stake on the next and so on and so on. Although these bets can be tempting to the punters the bookmakers love them as they're very hard to win.

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Betting odds explained, Picks, Tips & Predictions

Live Scores & Odds Comparison

Yes, as a beginner you need to have your betting odds explained to you until you get the point. There is no way around it. If you are a seasoned veteran, head on to the next article please. The scope of this article is to show you the importance of odds, and the main ways odds can be stated.

In general odds are just the inverse of probability. To illustrate what we mean by the inverse of probability, we will use a simple example. Say Croatia is playing Sweden in men’s handball. You think it is a 60% chance Croatia will win. Now, divide 1 (100%) by 0.60 (60%) and voila, 1.67. We discuss probability in many other articles, and we do urge you to read those. A basic understanding of probability is necessary in order to succeed in betting on sports.

Odds are everywhere! When you cross the street, there may or may not be a car driving. If you had been standing long enough at comparable times on comparable days, you probably could get some decent odds to throw around. Maybe you are hitting the town hard with your buddies and try to chat up a new potential “first lady”. If the first one objects don’t give up. If you ask enough ladies you’ll find someone attracted to you that is within your acceptable parameters. Just assess your chances. Let us assume you aren’t quite a Casanova, that you are not extremely selective, and that you haven’t had much luck before, let’s say you got a 2.5% chance at finding Mrs. Right. Again, let us use the math from earlier. 1/0.025 = 20. Wow, one in forty girls is going to give you a green light. Go for it Tiger. (Editor Note: He clearly did)

Let us return to gambling. Maybe you are a lottery player? If that is the case you likely don’t want to know what your odds are. They really are that slim. If you enjoy grinding the ticket one number at a time, don’t let us spoil the fun, but don’t bet your house on it. Perhaps you like the horses? The odds are always clearly marked when betting on the ponies. (Note they will often change prior to the drop of the gate). Maybe you prefer betting on x factor odds? All these reality – competition type of TV shows have opened up new and exciting betting possibilities. Betting on sports is no different from those other odds betting activities mentioned above.

When we look at horse racing as mentioned, the ten horses typically have odds ranging from 2-1 all the way up to 50-1 or higher. What this means is if you bet $1 and your horse wins, you either win $2 or you win $50. Betting on sports is similar; there are a variety of ways the odds are posted.

The most popular ways of quoting odds are: decimal odds, fractional odds, US odds, Hong Kong odds, INDO odds and Malay odds.

Here is one practical example for you: New England Patriots -7 can be quoted as (US -200), (Decimal 1.50), (Fractional ½), (Hong Kong 0.50), and (Indo -2.0) @ Buffalo Bills. These odds all mean the same thing, in order to win $100 net you need to bet $200 on New England. Don’t let the -7 confuse you. It is just an example. For you to win this bet the New England Patriots must win by eight points or more.

Using decimal wagering the odds is 1.50. To find out what your bet pays net you simply multiply the odds 1.5 with the stake you bet ($200 in this example). Then you subtract the stake. In this example we then get to a net win of $100.

In the fractional example your first number shown would be your potential winnings. Here, one unit is gained for every two units wagered. Intuitively this makes sense. This way of quoting odds is popular with the British.

Most reputable books catering for the western betting markets will post odds in all of these formats, it just comes down to personal choice as too what you prefer. If you happen to prefer Asian odds and are using a book in the fast growing, and popular Asian market you will need to get used to the Hong Kong odds and Indo odds, another popular one used is Malay odds.

Hong Kong odds state the number of units you win net if your bet is a winner. It takes your stake out of the equation. Hong Kong odds of 0.50 therefore imply that if you bet one pound you will net 50 pence.

Indonesian odds are stated as a number, using decimals. What you need to know is that when it is a positive number it works like Hong Kong odds. So, if you are offered Indonesian odds of 2.50 you know that you need to bet 1 unit to win 2.5 units net (3.5 units gross). If the number is negative they show you how many units you need to risk in order to win 1 unit. So, if you are quoted -2.00 you know you need to bet 2 euro to win 1. An even odds situation is quoted as 1.00 using Indonesian odds.

Next up are Malay odds. When they are quoted as a positive number they show you what you win if you are betting one unit. So, if you are quoted odds of 0.5, you know you will net 0.50 units per 1 unit you bet given your bet is a winner. Yes, this is just like Hong Kong odds too. When Malay odds are quoted as a negative number, such as -0.5 it indicates you need to risk 0.5 units to win 1 unit net. Quite simple isn’t it.

(Disclaimer:Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of We disclaim any responsibility and accepts no liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising from any inaccuracies.)

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