Recently, the UFC implemented a policy prohibiting fighters (and others) from betting on UFC fights. There were questions surrounding how strict the policy would be, and what the limitations were when it came to fighters and their camps. It looks like fans are finding out how far that reach goes.
One fight from UFC Vegas 64 is currently under investigation. ESPN was the first to report that several sportsbooks (and Las Vegas firm U.S. Integrity) found suspicious wagering on a featherweight bout between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke.
The fight, which ended with Nuerdanbieke winning via first round TKO, saw betting odds dramatically increase in favor of Nuerdanbieke (from -220 to -420). During the bout, Minner threw a left kick and appeared to injure his leg. Nuerdanbieke took advantage and earned his first finish in four UFC fights. Sportsbooks were enamored with Nuerdanbieke winning by TKO, which was odd considering the fights standing within the UFC compared to top-tier bouts on the card.
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Minner was coached by James Krause, which resulted in further questions surrounding the result. He has since been released by the UFC.
UFC statement following UFC Vegas 64
Following the controversial fight, UFC immediately released a statement regarding the situation.
“Like many professional sports organizations, UFC works with an independent betting integrity service to monitor wagering activity on our events,” the UFC statement read, via ESPN. “Our betting integrity partner, Don Best Sports, a leading global supplier of real-time betting data for North American sporting events, will conduct a thorough review of the facts and report its findings. At this time, we have no reason to believe either of the athletes involved in the bout, or anyone associated with their teams, behaved in an unethical or irresponsible manner.”
UFC betting rules and regulations
The UFC enforced the gambling rule in October “in light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the United States.”
UFC just issued this memo to fighters and managers regarding a change in their athlete conduct policy:
UFC fighters are now prohibited from gambling on any UFC fight, regardless of if they are involved or not. They can still be sponsored just not allowed to bet at all. pic.twitter.com/6zhuIITxmx
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 17, 2022
Several fighters are ambassadors for sports betting companies and even promote them on social media. The updated policy does not prohibit fighters from sponsorship deals.
The ruling includes the teams of fighters.
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Dana White’s response to gambling on MMA
UFC President Dana White discussed the new ruling, stating at UFC 280 that he agrees with those who regulate gambling that believes fighters shouldn’t bet on themselves. He mentioned optics more than anything as part of the reason.
“Gambling is opening up everywhere in every state,” White stated, via MMA Junkie. “People who regulate gambling don’t think it’s a good idea for fighters to be betting on themselves – and I agree. … It just shouldn’t happen. It should never happen. It doesn’t look good – more optics than anything.”
December 10, 2022: At the UFC 282 post-fight press conference, White was asked about an update on the case and was unable to do so. At first, he stated he is not worried about the investigation when it comes to the integrity of the UFC. He also stated he knows as much as everyone else knows.
“We let these guys know not to bet on fights,” White said. “Do you know what the outcome of this is? If I penalize them, you get cut. They’re going to go to f—— federal prison. Federal f—— prison. If you’re that f—— stupid, and somebody else wants to do it, knock yourself out. There’s not enough money in it to ruin your life and not go to jail, go to federal prison.”
Who is James Krause?
Minner was coached by James Krause. A former UFC fighter and current coach, Krause is a known sports bettor, especially in MMA, and host of the betting podcast “1% Club.” When asked for a comment by ESPN, Krause, as of now, has not provided one.
While it originally wasn’t implied that Krause was involved, his name has been brought up in conversations. The Nevada State Athletic Commission informed Krause that his corner license was suspended as the investigation continues.
The hammer was then dropped when UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell sent a memo to fighters that the promotion will not allow fighters to step into the octagon if currently trained by Krause. Minner was also released by the UFC.
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Via ESPN, the UFC statement was the following:
“UFC has since advised Krause and the respective managers working with impacted fighters, that effective immediately, fighters who choose to continue to be coached by Krause or who continue to train in his gym, will not be permitted to participate in UFC events pending the outcome of the aforementioned government investigations. Further, UFC has released Darrick Minner from the organization.”
As a result of the result and investigation, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement shut down wagers involving Krause. Canada’s Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis stopped offering and accepting wagers on UFC events due to “concerns about non-compliance with AGCO’s betting integrity requirements.” It was lifted not long after following the memo by the UFC.
Krause corners several high-profile fighters, including Brandon Moreno. Moreno, the interim UFC flyweight champion, is scheduled to fight Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 283 on January 21 for the UFC flyweight title. He posted a picture with Krause on social media, stating, “Waiting for justice.”
What is U.S. Integrity?
U.S. Integrity works with sportsbooks to monitor the betting market. Founded in 2018, U.S. Integrity analyzes changes in betting data “against a benchmark of normal betting activity.” Through monitoring data, the organization can provide information on potential abnormalities within betting per event and fight.
The ESPN report came after an analysis report conducted by U.S. Integrity, who alerted clients to the irregular betting pattern.
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”Our goal as always is to notify the industry of any potential nefarious, abnormal or suspicious activity as soon as possible, so they can take action as quickly as possible,” U.S. Integrity President Holt told ESPN. “In this case, we hope that by sending a couple hours before the fight started, we may have helped prevent some more suspicious bets from getting through.”
History of controversial UFC fights and events
Many were convinced that Minner threw the bout following the result. ESPN reported that someone in Minner’s camp eventually leaked that Minner’s left knee was “absolutely injured going into the fight.”
This latest incident comes on the heels of T.J. Dillashaw entering his UFC bantamweight title fight against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 280 with a shoulder injury, which he revealed after the fight. Dillashaw had shoulder surgery in 2019, which was known. His shoulder dislocated twice in the bout, which resulted in a one-sided win for Sterling.
In June 2021, Justin Jaynes wagered his fight check on himself against Charles Rosa. He would lose the fight via split decision. The well-known bet caused plenty of debate leading up to the new ruling.
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One of the most famous UFC scandals took place a few years ago. In 2017, Tae Hyun Bang was sentenced to a ten-month prison term. He was found guilty for taking bribes to throw a fight against Leo Kuntz at UFC Fight Night 79 in 2015. Bang was offered over $92,000, per The Korea Herald. The UFC warned both fighters of potential fight fixing when there was a big shift in odds. Bang ended up winning the fight against Kuntz via split decision.
“The crime of match fixing damages the credibility of sport, and in international matches, it has a bad effect on the country’s credibility as well,” the court said, per MMA Junkie. “Bang had an obligation to play the game fairly, but he ignored it and took an important role in the scheme. But we did take into consideration that Bang won the bout and returned the money afterwards.”
The three “brokers” who set everything up were also sentenced. Bang fought once more for the UFC, in a losing effort in 2016, and was released in 2017 before the sentence.
*The Sporting News will be providing updates when more information is released*