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Leo Kuntz reacts to fight fixing investigation of his last UFC fight

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Bang vs Kuntz Lili Troncale-USA TODAY Sports

The Leo Kuntz vs. Tae Hyun Bang fight took place in the preliminary portion of the UFC Fight Night 79 card in Seoul, South Korea, but it’s back in the news 17 months later.

Bang defeated Kuntz via split decision that night, but the local police have started an investigation targeting the winner of the lightweight bout over fight fixing allegations.

Multiple South Korea news outlets have reported that Bang is under investigation after a $1.7 million bet was placed on him to lose the night of the fight on Nov. 28, 2015. According to the reports, Bang accepted a bribe of almost $90,000, and bet half of it on his opponent.

MMA Fighting reached out to the UFC for comment on the situation, but it did not respond.

Kuntz, the other man inside the Octagon that night, says he realized something weird was going on moments before the fight when UFC officials approached to him to talk about him going from underdog to favorite.

"At that time, I had no idea what was going on,” Kuntz told MMA Fighting. "I’m not a gambler. I mean, I like to play poker, things like that, but I’m not a sports gambler, so I had no idea this was a major red flag that there was something going on with the fight being fixed."

UFC officials entered the locker room and told him the odd swing was “unprecedented, that never happened in the UFC before,” and to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. When the betting lines changed drastically, Kuntz thought someone leaked the information that his opponent was seriously injured.

"I wasn’t aware at the time that most of the times, when the betting lines change, it’s because a huge bet came in,” Kuntz said. "Even after the UFC came and talked to me… they didn’t even grow on me very much because the bet was put down on me. They were pretty certain I had nothing to do with it.

"To be honest, at the time, they talked to me when I was having my hands wrapped,” he continued. "We’re talking about an hour or two before I’m about to make my walk out. At that point, I’m not really thinking about anything. I’m just thinking hey, this is good for me just because it’s getting my name out there, even though something controversial. It’s still good for me as well."

When the UFC official left the room, Kuntz says he was able to quickly re-focus on the fight that was approaching, and the situation didn’t affect his performance.

"To me, he was not fighting like somebody who was fighting to lose,” Kuntz said. "From everything that I’ve gathered, what basically happened, from what I understand, is that he got scared by the UFC, when the UFC came to talk to him, and he panicked and decided not to throw that fight. And that’s why he came out to the police now, because he’s fearing for his life, his safety, so he went to the South Korean police. Even though he’s under investigation, too.

"Apparently, he was more afraid of the UFC than these mobsters that he was associated with."

When the fight was over, Bang won by split decision (29-28x3, 28-29).

"I don’t even think he realized he won the fight until it was over,” Kuntz said. "There’s a video footage of him, they announce the score and raise his hands and he’s shocked.”

Kuntz says he wasn’t contacted by the UFC or the South Korean police about the situation, but assumes that one missed call on his phone, from an international number, is related to the case.

The American lightweight has departed from the UFC after that bout, leaving with a 0-2 record in the promotion and 17-3-1 overall. He only came back to action earlier this year, competing at South Korean promotion RoadFC.

A submission win over Young Gi Hong in his RoadFC debut led him to the promotion's 16-men lightweight tournament, which is set to kick off in July and pay the winner a $1 million prize.

Scheduled to return to South Korea later this year, Kuntz just hopes to stay away from more controversy.

"Being involved in one of these things is plenty enough,” Kuntz laughs.

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