Another UFC Fighter Faces Suspension Amid Betting Investigations

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UFC Molina
Credit: Gary McCullough / The Associated Press

UFC’s betting integrity issues are continuing with another suspension.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended UFC fighter Jeff Molina, according to an ESPN report last week. The reason for Molina’s suspension in Nevada is not listed; however, the fighter has long trained with embattled coach James Krause

Molina withdrew from an upcoming Jan. 14 bout on Dec. 3, a day after the UFC announced fighters working with Krause would be suspended. Krause and fighter Darrick Minner are also suspended by the NSAC because of sports betting investigations into Minner’s Nov. 5 fight. 

UFC troubles continue

While the NSAC has not disclosed the reason for Molina’s suspension, it comes at a time when the promoter faces serious questions from regulators and sportsbooks about integrity concerns. Questions largely revolve around the Nov. 5 Minner fight against Shayilan Nuerdanbieke

Minner allegedly did not properly disclose an injury before the fight, which then saw rapid pre-match betting in the hours leading up to the event. Sportsbooks then reported massive interest in an early Nuerdanbieke knockout and for the match to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. 

Minner then lost in a first-round knockout. Along with announcing suspensions for working with Krause, the UFC released Minner earlier this month.

UFC betting fallout

Regulators in US and Canada sports betting have reacted to the UFC investigations. New Jersey sports betting regulators were the first to act, suspending action on fights involving Krause.

With sportsbooks reporting the suspicious activity around the Nov. 5 fight, sports betting integrity firm US Integrity began an investigation into the event. According to ESPN, the FBI is investigating the Minner-Nuerdanbieke fight as well.

Last month, Ontario regulators asked sportsbooks to pull UFC events from their betting menus, with Alberta following quickly after. While Alberta reinstated UFC events after suspensions were announced, Ontario still wants more done.

“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 earlier this month. “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.”

Changing tune on the situation 

Initially, UFC President Dana White denied any suspicious activity around the Nov. 5 event. 

Since then, White has acknowledged there is a possibility that the possibility of match fixing is a “huge concern.”

In October, the fight promoter changed its fighter code of conduct to prohibit fighters, coaches and team members from betting on any UFC fight. Prior to the change, there was no prohibition on betting on UFC events.