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Sportsbook director: MMA betting has matched boxing because of Ronda Rousey

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Mandalay Bay sportsbook director Mike Piranio believes Ronda Rousey helped MMA draw huge interest among bettors.

MMA: UFC 207-Nunes vs Rousey Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that Ronda Rousey paved the way for women’s fighting, and helped bring MMA to mainstream recognition. But apparently, she has also become a major asset for Las Vegas casinos in terms of sports betting.

According to Mandalay Bay sports book director Mike Piranio, MMA betting has spiked up over the years since Rousey began gaining traction in the UFC. So much so that even those who were regular patrons, but did not follow the sport, have begun doing so more frequently.

“I would say the Rousey run was a lot of (betting) tickets, and a lot of different interest in that,” Piranio told MMAJunkie Radio. “That was really good for MMA and the UFC, obviously. She made a huge impact in the number of people (betting on MMA) – and they still come now. It’s not like they quit. If she fights again, I’m sure they’ll come back and bet it.”

When it comes to combat sports betting in recent years, boxing has always had the upper hand, especially during the peak of Floyd Mayweather’s career. But Piranio says MMA began garnering so much attention that it eventually caught up with boxing in no time.

“It’s climbed every year, and it’s on par with boxing now. There’ll be a boxing match every once in a while, like (Floyd) Mayweather’s last fight, (which) was probably bigger than anything. But on a week to week basis … if it’s a good card in MMA, we’re getting just as much interest in those.”

“The bigger names, it makes a huge difference in people betting and what we have to offer. (But) part of it, to be honest with you, is MMA does it just a little bit different than boxing, where they have enough free cards,” Piranio said. “Boxing, on the good end (has) Showtime and HBO, which are good. As far as the free on regular TV, MMA keeps a lot of interest, and I think that helps them on the back end with their pay-per-view.”