I was having a chat with Sean Southam, a bookmaker at the Las Vegas Hilton, on Thursday afternoon. Sean handles the odds for all the UFC fights, and I was asking him to break down the betting hows and whys of this weekend's UFC 114 card, headlining Rampage Jackson versus Rashad Evans. When we spoke, Rampage had fallen from a minus-140 favorite to a minus-120 favorite, while betting on Evans was at even money. Clearly, at the Hilton at least, the bets are coming in on Evans. I asked Sean why he thought that was. "I think there is public sentiment for Evans," he said. "When they were the coaches on 'The Ultimate Fighter' they made him seem like the smart, good guy and Rampage seem like the bully."
There's more to it than that, obviously, and we'll get to that below. But it made me realize how, even amongst educated, hard-core fans such as UFC followers -- and make no mistake, it's the fans buying every pay per view who are betting on these fights -- public perception can hold sway. It's no different than people who bet on the Dallas Cowboys just because they know the logo.