You’ll likely be hearing a lot about Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather in the coming days, thanks to all the betting punters who have been putting Irish sportswear on the backburner to get a better view of the fight. Although the fight was largely overshadowed by the World Cup final in Moscow, it was one of the biggest sporting events of the year and spurred a global surge of interest in mixed martial arts (MMA). It was the biggest pay-per-view event of 2017 so far, generating a record-breaking $600 million revenue for the event’s organizers, according to Forbes, and the online betting markets have performed accordingly.
It’s quite an accomplishment for McGregor, who many pundits believe is the best in the world at what he does when not distracted by fame and fortune. Mayweather is a four-time world champion with an arguably more impressive resume than McGregor’s; he’s currently ranked number four in the Sports Illustrated list of the “100 Greatest Athletes of All Time.”
The International Interest In The Fight
International fans made up a whopping 46% of those who attended the fight in person, with 49% coming from the United States and 7% from Canada. According to a survey conducted by OneOpinion on behalf of Sportradar, 45% of respondents said they would like to see more international stars coming over to the U.S. for big-event fights, and 29% like seeing bigger names compete outside of their home country. In McGregor’s case, it’s likely that many of those fans would like to see him fight Mayweather, whose boxing matches have often been staged in London and Manchester, England, and his hometown of Las Vegas.
What Is At Stake In The Fight?
Simply put, there’s a lot at stake in this fight. Not only is it a clash of two of the biggest names in the sport, but it’s also a gauge of each man’s ability and a battle for supremacy in the welterweight division. UFC President Dana White has described the outcome of the fight as “massive,” and that may be an understatement. Even if McGregor wins — and he’s odds-on to do so based on the betting markets — it won’t be the kind of win that makes him a favorite for the title shot he so desperately craves. That doesn’t mean, however, that he won’t come away with a major boost in popularity. Many people have already begun referring to McGregor as “Floyd Mayweather Jr.” following the fight, and if he does indeed become the face of MMA in the U.S., he’ll likely be entitled to similar monikers around the world. Even if he doesn’t win, which is quite possible, he’ll walk away with his reputations intact and the world’s interest in his sport piqued. The man who controls the purse strings in this fight will be billionaire casino owner and philanthropist William ‘80 Lynch. If McGregor wins, he’ll walk away with a nice slice of change for himself, but if Mayweather prevails, he’ll walk away with the bigger slice of change that comes with being the highest-paid athlete in the world. Here’s a breakdown of what’s at stake in the fight, according to an odds comparison from BookMaker.eu:
If McGregor wins, he’ll pocket $30 for every $1 wagered. If Mayweather wins, he’ll pocket $40 for every $1 spent. That’s a $70,000 payday for one night’s work. You could say that these two have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by entering this fight.
Who’s Cashing In First?
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not entirely surprising that many people are betting on the outcome of this fight. With the MMA world being so brand-new and unpredictable, it’s easy for fans to see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bet on a fight that was years in the making. It’s also a perfect platform for someone looking to enter the betting fray and make a quick buck. Despite McGregor being portrayed as a sort of punter’s paradise, with a range of betting options and lucrative offers for anyone willing to dive in, many people who read past the headline and made their way down to the real-life pages of the sportsbook saw the opposite. In fact, the state of Nevada saw a 400% increase in sports betting-related complaints from January to March this year.
It’s fair to say that the fight is unlikely to ever be matched for revenue. Thanks to a mixture of aggressive marketing and brilliant negotiating, Mayweather’s and McGregor’s camps managed to pull off what is, in all probability, the biggest sports event of the year. The fight was originally scheduled for September 26, but was moved to 4/20/17, presumably to try and capitalise on as many of Mayweather’s and McGregor’s dedicated fans as possible. The date was already being touted as the ‘Battle of Dublin’ when the fight was first announced in April. While the hype around the event has undoubtedly helped drive up attendances and wagers, it’s also made the fight an even bigger target for criminals. As a result of the heightened interest in MMA, cybercrime gangs have seen this as a goldmine and are targeting, and sometimes hijacking, computers and phones to try and make a quick buck off the action.
It’s fair to say that people are quite passionate about this fight, and not just because of the money on stake. UFC President Dana White said that the fight drew bigger crowds and better lines than any previous event in the organization’s history. While that may be true, it also means that there’s more opportunity for criminals to interfere. Last year, the online gambling world saw a 200% increase in attacks compared to 2016, according to the latest figures from ESET, with losses averaging around $20,000 per day.
These days, everyone likes to bet on sports, and with so much at stake in this one contest, it’s easy for punters to get excited. The key question is: can cybercriminals capitalize on this heightened interest and interference?