The UFC has struck a deal with U.S. Integrity to monitor, identify and analyze unusual betting activity on fights in the promotion as well as on Dana White’s Contender Series.
The partnership was announced on Thursday. U.S. Integrity initially launched an investigation following a UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke this past November that saw a huge swing in betting odds just hours before the bout took place. Minner became a massive underdog at sportsbooks just before he ultimately lost a lopsided first-round TKO to Nuedanbieke.
Now, the Las Vegas based company will work hand-in-hand with the UFC to monitor betting activity for all the fights taking place in the promotion, which has amended its rules to prohibit athletes from placing any wagers on fights.
The UFC will now prevent coaches, managers and trainers from placing bets on fights, adding that potential penalties could then come back on the fighters they represent.
“Throughout this process, we have had productive discussions with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to address the concerns AGCO expressed to their operators,” Riché T. McKnight, Executive Vice President & General Counsel of UFC, stated in a press release. “We have made enhancements to our UFC Athlete Conduct Policy to more clearly express the prohibition against any UFC athlete from placing any wagers directly or through a third party on any UFC match, including placing wagers on themselves.
“We have also expanded our discussion of so-called ‘UFC Insiders’ to make clear that these same prohibitions against wagering apply to an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, and other individuals affiliated with the athletes or UFC, and that violations by these Insiders may result in disciplinary action against related contract athletes. Finally, we have reiterated our expectation that our contract athletes will come to us to report any matters that might raise integrity concerns. We thank the AGCO for their cooperation, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure the integrity of our sport for the benefit of our athletes and our fans.”
Just after U.S. Integrity announced an initial investigation into the bout involving Minner, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced that all sportsbooks in the province were banned from accepting bets on UFC fights. The AGCO has since lifted that ban after the UFC put new rules in place regarding athletes, coaches, managers and other ‘insiders’ along with the partnership with U.S. Integrity.
“The AGCO is committed to protecting Ontario players and the integrity of its betting market,” AGCO CEO Tom Mungham said in a statement. “With the legalization of single event betting last year, the AGCO created strong new rules to protect bettors in Ontario. We are pleased these rules are already working to strengthen the integrity of sports betting in Ontario and, as a result, of UFC competitions around the world.”
While the AGCO has reinstated UFC betting in the Canadian province, a larger investigation was already launched in relation to Minner’s head coach, James Krause, who is now at the center of a betting scandal that has led to multiple suspensions being issued as well as the UFC effectively banning the retired fighter from having any relationship with active athletes on the roster. UFC fighters are no longer allowed to train at Krause’s gym or use him as a coach.
The Nevada Athletic Commission eventually issued suspensions for both Minner and Krause based on the fighter and coach failing to report a pre-existing injury prior to the event that took place this past November. When the suspension was issued, Nevada deputy attorney general Joel Bekker added that there was an ongoing investigation surrounding the fight related to suspicious betting that could lead to additional violations and potential punishment handed down.
Minner was also released from the UFC.
On Tuesday, UFC flyweight Jeff Molina, who counts Krause as his head coach, was also suspended because he was allegedly “involved in some substantial way in the gaming scheme currently under ongoing investigation related to James Krause.” Molina remains on the UFC roster, but he will not be booked in any fights while the investigation is ongoing, and his suspension remains intact in the state of Nevada.
As those investigations continue, the UFC will now work with U.S. Integrity to monitor any other suspicious betting activity related to the fights, fighters or “insiders” associated with the sport.
“U.S. Integrity will help us strengthen our existing best practices by applying their expertise in data intelligence to proactively identify irregular bout-level wagering patterns,” McKnight said.
“This information can inform UFC’s response and can be preemptively shared with sports books, who can make informed decisions as to whether or not halt betting on a particular bout.”
The partnership starts immediately with monitoring in place for all events held through 2023, per the release.