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UFC's return driving heavy betting action

The return of the UFC has provided some relief for fans thirsty for live sports, and some much-needed action for sportsbooks hit hard since the coronavirus pandemic shut down major sports across the globe.

Last Saturday’s UFC 249, the first of three events over eight days, brought more action to Rush Street Interactive’s platforms than any single NFL game.

“It was even 33 percent more popular than Conor McGregor’s return to UFC this past January,” said COO Mattias Stetz, whose company operates and

PointsBet USA and DraftKings both drew record UFC betting totals on Saturday.

DraftKings director of sportsbook operations Johnny Avello stated that the volume for UFC 249 nearly doubled the company’s biggest previous total for a UFC event.

PointsBet director of communications Patrick Eichner told multiple websites, “On overall handle, this UFC 249 card ended up slightly outperforming Conor McGregor’s return to the octagon in UFC 246. Those two events have blown every other UFC event to date out of the water, with handles comparable to a full weekend’s worth of NBA games.”

William Hill booked the largest bet on UFC 249, according to multiple media outlets. A gambler lost $105,000 on favorite Tony Ferguson at -210 odds. Justin Gaethje won the interim UFC lightweight title with a fifth-round technical knockout.

Bettors have another opportunity with Wednesday night’s card featuring Anthony Smith against Glover Teixeira in the main event.

Smith, the UFC’s fourth-ranked light heavyweight, is favored at -190 by PlaySugarHouse and -182 by DraftKings. He hasn’t fought since last June due to a broken hand. DraftKings is offering him at +100 to win by knockout, TKO or disqualification.

The 40-year-old Teixeira is +155 at PlaySugarHouse and +152 at DraftKings, which is offering him at +700 to win by KO, TKO or DQ. As of Tuesday, 81 percent of the moneyline splits by total bets at DraftKings was on Smith to win.

The over/under at both sportsbooks for the total rounds in the scheduled five-round fight is 2.5.

The 11-fight card sets up a busy night.

The most-wagered fights at PlaySugarHouse after the main event are Ricky Simon (-165) vs. Ray Borg (+130) and Ovince Saint Preux (-139) vs. Ben Rothwell (+115). DraftKings is offering the same moneyline odds on both fights.

Albuquerque’s Borg (13-4) has gone 2-1 since losing to former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, missing weight for the third and fourth times in his career during that recent span. Simon of Vancouver, Wash., is 15-3 but has lost a pair of fights to Urijah Faber and Rob Font in his latest two outings.

With seven of Borg’s last eight UFC fights going the distance, DraftKings is offering the fight at -295 to go the distance and Borg at +1400 to win by KO, TKO or DQ as compared to +550 for the same bet on Simon.

Saint Preux (24-13) of Knoxville, Tenn., will make his heavyweight debut after 20 light heavyweight fights, but the action has been almost even at DraftKings. Rothwell (37-12) of Kenosha, Wis., has received 51 percent of the handle and 46 percent of the total bets.

Full Card Odds (PlaySugarHouse)

Philippe Lins -162 vs Andrei Arlovski +130

Thiago Moises -112 vs Michael Johnson -112

Sijara Eubanks -400 vs Sarah Moras +295

Omar Morales -177 vs Gabriel Benitez +140

Hunter Azure -190 vs Brian Kelleher +150

Chase Sherman -139 vs Isaac Villanueva +110

Marvin Vettori -177 vs Karl Roberson +144

Ricky Simon -165 vs Ray Borg +130

Drew Dober -125 vs Alexander Hernandez +100

Ovince Saint Preux -139 vs Ben Rothwell +115

Anthony Smith -190 vs Glover Teixeira +150

--Field Level Media