The UFC continues to work its way through recent integrity concerns surrounding betting, including its president conceding something nefarious might have happened.
UFC President Dana White has changed his tune regarding the Nov. 5 event that has caused several sports betting jurisdictions to limit action on the sport. After initially saying there was “absolutely zero proof” about the Nov. 5 scandal, White said last week there was suspicious activity and that fight fixing is a “huge concern.”
“Huge concern. … Now that there’s an investigation and it could be possible that it happened, yeah,” White told ESPN.
Ontario and Alberta asked sportsbooks to pull UFC events from their betting menus, while New Jersey sports betting regulators prohibited wagering on events involving MMA coach James Krause. The promoter banned working with Krause Dec. 2 after the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended the coach’s corner license based on his involvement in the Nov. 5 event.
The FBI could also be involved in an investigation into the Nov. 5 event, according to ESPN.
Ongoing investigation into Nov. 5
Multiple regulators and sportsbooks raised concerns following the Nov. 5 UFC match that saw Shayilan Nuerdanbieke knock out Darrick Minner in the first round. The Krause-coached Minner failed to disclose injuries prior to the bout and rumors began circulating.
Prior to the event, heavy money was bet on Nuerdanbieke and for the bout to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. Multiple sportsbooks reportedly reported suspicious activity, and sports betting integrity firm U.S. Integrity told LSR it cannot comment on ongoing investigations.
Krause, a former fighter, is a known sports bettor and ran now-defunct sports betting Discord and YouTube channels. Along with the UFC banning working with Krause, the promotion released Minner. Minner will face NSAC disciplinary action Wednesday, according to ESPN.
White warns insiders on UFC betting
In October, the UFC changed its code of conduct to prohibit fighters, coaches and team members from betting on the UFC.
In the interview with ESPN last week, White said the organization has always told fighters to stay away from gambling.
“In every sport, somebody thinks they’re smarter than everybody else when really they’re the dumbest guy in the room,” White told ESPN. “And you will get caught — you will get caught and you will go to prison. It is what it is. If you’re that dumb and you’re willing to take that risk for money. Ruin your life for money.
We can tell people until we’re blue in the face. Same thing as steroids, performance-enhancing drugs. ‘Don’t do it, USADA is testing, you’re gonna get caught.’ But this is a whole other level. … If you’re that stupid, have fun in prison.”
Alberta reinstates UFC betting
Alberta regulators pulled sports betting from their approved sports Dec. 3, following Ontario regulators doing so Dec. 2.
Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis is already satisfied with the UFC’s efforts to solidify its integrity. The regulator reinstated UFC betting Friday.
“With the recent announcement by the UFC that Krause, his managers and fighters will not be permitted to participate in UFC events, pending Nevada State Athletic Commission’s investigation, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) has reinstated UFC betting markets on PlayAlberta.ca,” AGLC Communications Manager Karin Campbell wrote in an email to LSR.
“Protecting consumers in Alberta is of the utmost importance to AGLC. We will remain vigilant in monitoring the situation and ensure players continue to have safe and secure gaming opportunities on Play Alberta.”
Ontario still waiting for more
Unlike its counterpart in Alberta, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is still waiting for more assurances the UFC can guarantee its integrity before allowing Ontario bettors to wager on the events again.
“The AGCO is aware of UFC’s recent statement and is encouraged by their commitment to integrity,” an AGCO spokesperson wrote in an email to LSR Monday. “Protecting the betting public by providing the necessary safeguards against the risk of insider betting on event and wagering integrity are a high priority to the AGCO.
“We recognize the recent steps taken and are committed to engaging with Ontario’s gaming industry, UFC, the OLG, and iGaming Ontario to ensure that the UFC has the necessary betting integrity framework in place, in particular relating to wagering by UFC insiders.”