“It was the first time I ever bet $1 million dollars because I was so confident…,” White told ESPN Sports Betting per BJPenn.
White was confidently backing a popular boxing champion making a title defense in 2007, but the American fighter lost his title via seventh-round knockout so White lost his $1 million bet.
You can read more about White’s stunning loss on the gambling market below.
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‘First Time’ Implies More $1 Million Bets
Of course, just the UFC boss admitting it was his “first time” betting that much money on sports implies he has bet that much or even more since that first big bet.
Now imagine betting $1 million for the first time ever and losing it. That’s what White did back in 2007.
“Oh my god. What was the kid’s name? Jermain Taylor. And who did he fight? I know this for the ass-whooping I took. He fought the tall, lanky, white kid from Ohio, Kelly Pavlik. I bet $1 million on Taylor and he got destroyed. It was the first time I ever bet $1 million dollars because I was so confident Taylor was going to win that fight,” Dana White said per BJPenn.
White probably thought he had some solid reasons to back Taylor in the fight.
After all, Taylor had shockingly dethroned longtime middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins in 2005 after Hopkins had set the record for middleweight title defenses at 20. Taylor won the first fight via split decision, then the rematch by unanimous decision, and most believed the American champ was on his way to his own long reign atop boxing’s 160-pound division.
But Taylor’s perch in the division was short-lived. He fought to a draw against junior middleweight champion Ronald “Winky’ Wright in 2006, beat Kassim Ouma by split decision in his next title defense later that same year, and did the same in a close fight against Cory Spinks in 2007.
But Pavlik stopped Taylor in seven rounds in the next fight to seize boxing’s middleweight crown, then the new champion won the immediate rematch against the old champ via unanimous decision to prove it was no fluke.
So White’s bet wasn’t a bad beat. It was a bad bet.
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White: ‘I’m A Degenerate’
In his interview with ESPN, White said he enjoyed betting on sports but that he also enjoyed other types of gambling.
“I play table games too much. I’m a degenerate if you’re not getting it. I’m a degenerate, yes. I love to gamble,” White said per BJPenn.
Despite calling himself a “degenerate” gambler, the UFC president also said he was happy to see that legal sports betting was sweeping the country now that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was off the books at the federal level.
Essentially, PAPSA had limited legal sports betting to just one state in the U.S. for 25 years, but that law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018.
That move meant more states were able to add legal sports betting to their jurisdictions, and it’s the main reason why sports betting has become such a huge part of the sports business over the last three years.
“I’d say it’s about time. I like it. It’s obviously a thing people love to do. It makes whatever you’re watching a lot more fun, a lot more interesting, so I’ve always been for it,” White said per BJPenn.
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