As soon as Ronda Rousey crashed to the ground and was knocked out, Las Vegas sports books were rattled by aftershocks from the earthquake in Melbourne, Australia, that rocked the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Holly Holm’s second-round knockout of Rousey on Saturday night was a “horrible” result, said Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill sports book director.
“Everything we won on college football we gave back on that fight,” Golden Nugget book director Tony Miller said. “We got killed on it. It was so lopsided with all underdog money.”
Rousey never was lower than a minus-1,000 favorite at the Westgate on fight night, with Holm priced at plus-650. But the prices varied from book to book and fluctuated wildly in the weeks before the fight.
The line on Rousey was higher than minus-1,500 at times. The return on Holm was as high as plus-1,200 and as low as plus-400. A tidal wave of underdog money flooded the betting market in the 24 hours before UFC 193, which was staged Sunday afternoon in Australia.
Similar to major boxing events, bettors were taking swings on the long shot. What most books paid out on the underdog dwarfed the small number of wagers lost on the big favorite. (There were no reports or rumors of Floyd Mayweather Jr. winning a bet on Holm.)
Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said he accepted multiple wagers for $20,000 to win $2,000 on Rousey before closing Holm at plus-800.
“We took four limit bets on Rousey about 20 minutes before the first bell,” Kornegay said. “I wasn’t feeling that comfortable accepting them at the time, but it worked out for us. We broke even on the fight.
“The results around town were not good. Most books got crushed, as typical underdog betting was popular. The low-risk, high-reward scenario was appealing, as usual.”
Miller said the Golden Nugget took “a few” large wagers on Rousey at minus-850.
“I was lucky because I went down to minus-850, so that saved me a little bit,” said Miller, who watched on pay per view. “Rousey was never in the fight.”
Kornegay said the fight drew a larger wagering handle than an average NFL game.
“It’s the first time a Rousey fight had that kind of handle,” he said. “We handled more on this fight than any previous Rousey fight.”
Rousey (12-1) was on the wrong side of the biggest upset in UFC history. If she fights Holm (10-0) again, estimates are Rousey will be around a minus-250 favorite.
“The rematch should be huge,” Kornegay said.
— Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.