While the world of combat sports betting may seem chaotic and random at first glance, the bookies who set the lines on a fight have turned the practice into a near science. But to practice that science, they need answers to dozens of questions they have regarding a fighter’s training regiment, mindset, and other circumstances leading up to an event. With Ronda Rousey, they don’t have much of that because Ronda has engineered a near perfect media blackout coming up to her return at UFC 207 tonight against Amanda Nunes.
So without any answers to their questions, it looks like many betting sites are assuming the worst about Rousey. Where in the past she has enjoyed favorite odds as high as -1500, in this fight she sits at a lowly -150 favorite to Amanda Nunes’ +140 underdog status. That means betting $150 on Rousey will win you $100. In the past, betting the same amount on her might win you $10 to $20.
That’s a huge fall from grace in the eyes of the gambling community. But there’s been a lot of red flags surrounding Rousey’s return, ones that are hard to ignore if you’re one of those people looking to put money down on this fight. Ronda’s refusal to engage with the press goes far beyond fight week. The previously omnipresent Rousey has been in hiding for over a year, ever since she was knocked out by Holly Holm last November. And when ESPN sent someone to see her months after the loss, she sounded like a shattered, broken woman. Her sister penned a heartfelt essay on how mean the world had treated Ronda after the loss, and how a piece of Ronda had died that night. UFC president Dana White admitted Rousey felt ‘betrayed’ by the fans and media.
None of this makes it sound like Ronda Rousey took her loss very well. And her continued refusal to say a single word to press on fight week makes people wonder if she still hasn’t processed it properly.
But this is still Ronda Rousey we’re talking about here. A lifetime athlete who has competed at the highest levels in Olympic judo and UFC cagefighting. If it was anyone else behaving this way, they wouldn’t still be the favorite coming into this fight. But we all know Ronda has the raw tools to dismantle anyone in the ring not fast enough to stay out of her clinch. But can she still unitize them after such a devastating loss? Have many of those tools become null after Holly Holm laid out a blueprint and proved Rousey was mortal?
As far as the bookies are concerned, this fight between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes tonight at UFC 207 is no sure thing. As a fan, that’s what excites me the most about it.