The internet was abuzz Monday morning after pop star Justin Bieber tweeted, seemingly at random, that he’d like to fight movie star Tom Cruise in a UFC-sanctioned MMA fight. The thought of a fight between the two celebrities drew the attention of the UFC and some of its top athletes, including Conor McGregor.
I wanna challenge Tom Cruise to fight in the octagon. Tom if you dont take this fight your scared and you will never live it down. Who is willing to put on the fight? @danawhite ?
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) June 10, 2019
Though it seems far-fetched, it’s not out of the realm of possibility considering that the UFC let former WWE star CM Punk compete in the Octagon without any amateur or professional fights. Punk had a couple of exhibition bouts before the UFC said enough was enough. MMA observers commented that Punk’s brief stint in the UFC was done to gather PPV buys. There’s also wrestling star Brock Lesnar, but he’s actually a legitimate MMA fighter and a former UFC heavyweight champion.
The huge reaction to the idea of a Bieber vs. Cruise spectacle surely will get the UFC thinking about the pros and cons. It would very likely sell. Furthermore, the fact that folks on social media appear basically split on who would be the favorite is another good indicator that people would tune in.
NJ sportsbook has interest
Legal sports betting in the state of New Jersey is about a year old now. The industry is heavily regulated by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement. Should the UFC book such a fight, legal sportsbooks would need to get the OK from regulators. The first steps in the process in getting such a fight on the board in NJ would need to be done by the UFC, not the books.
“Our philosophy is to offer as many non-traditional markets as we can. As such, we’re always submitting new requests to the NJDGE for approval,” Matt Chaprales from PointsBet Sportsbook told NJ Online Gambling. “For a potential Bieber-Cruise MMA fight, the first step would be for the UFC’s integrity body to greenlight the fight and list it on an upcoming card. At that point we would absolutely submit it to the NJDGE for approval with the intent of offering it on-site for betting.”
Odds for such a bout?
Like we alluded to above, setting lines on a Bieber-Cruise fight would bring sports betting further into the mainstream. Many casual sports fans (and many who don’t even watch sports) would likely become even more familiar with +/- odds, and it would likely benefit the sports betting industry as a whole.
It’s really anyone’s guess who is the favorite and who is the underdog. The lines would be set and move on public perception and as more information about their training comes out.
It’s worth noting that Cruise hasn’t yet responded to the offer. Should the 56-year-old actor (31 years Bieber’s senior) express interest and the fight actually gain some more momentum in the coming days and weeks, the number of offshore gambling websites posting lines would surely expand rapidly.
There would be betting on the fight in the U.S. regardless of whether regulated books take bets. That’s why it would be best if the UFC hosted it, so that regulated books would have a clear avenue toward regulatory approval and not let the untaxed and unscrupulous offshore operators dominate the betting market on the contest.
NJ Online Gambling will give you one line on the fight, assuming it happens: -5000 it would be held in Las Vegas.
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