If you’ve ever read “Gambling for Dummies” one of the first principles you are taught is that the betting line is never based on who will win the game, but rather where the bets will be placed. It’s how serious sports gamblers are able to make a small fortune each year, preying on the misinformed. Simply, they know more about the games than your average Joe and exploit their knowledge.
So when Seth Petruzelli entered his fight Saturday night against Kimbo Slice, who has been marketed as a underground fighting machine, as a 4 to 1 underdog on most Las Vegas based betting lines, many knowledgeable fans took advantage of the betting opportunity. They played the line properly and took home a boat load of money, in what should go down as one of the more out of whack betting lines in the history of sport.
But this betting line paints a much more detailed story about MMA, EliteXC and Kimbo Slice. It proves that the hype machine EliteXC created for Kimbo was a success and in a sport in its infancy, these situations will continue. Let me explain.
Seth Petruzelli is a legitimate MMA fighter. He began competing when he was 8 years old in Karate, worked his way up the pro ranks fighting the likes of Gan McGee, Dan Severn and won himself a spot on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he beat the Giant Dan Christianson and lost by split decision to another giant in Brad Imes in the semi finals. He went on to lose a decision to one of the top Light heavyweights in the world in Matt Hamill and fought in K-1, where he took on an opponent that is 100 lbs heavier than Slice, in 350 lbs Bob Sapp. But he’s no star.
Conclusion: Petruzelli was an enormous challenge for Slice and far greater than anything 44 year old Ken Shamrock could pose for him. And most fans had no idea who he was prior to the Kimbo fight. So when the line was posted an hour before fight time and he was a 4 to 1 underdog, it solidified the fact that Slice’s Hype Machine really was working. The odds makers assumed the average fan would place large bets in favor of Slice. The fact that the line hardly moved during that last hour suggests that, astonishingly, they were correct.
The knowledgeable MMA fan laughed at the line and any one of them with an online betting account took advantage. The average fan bet on Slice and lost. Over the last year, has the average fan become so caught up in Slice’s look and hype to support him and overlooked his obvious lack of experience and skill? It would appear so.
And some are not even casual fans. Not many casual MMA fan would bet their hard earned dollars on MMA fights unless they had some basic understanding of the sport.
Has EliteXC made mistakes? Lots of them. They rarely stay within their 2 hour allotted time period. Their VP, Jared Shaw was seen yelling at the referee to penalize Petruzelli for what appeared to be an inadvertent back of the head strike (when he is the promoter and should remain impartial). Finally, some have questioned if they will be on the air in 6 months.
But for all that EliteXC has done wrong; they have proven with little more than a scary looking dude with a big beard and a bald head, they can create a star. Let’s just hope the next star is built more on substance and skill, and less on looks and potential.