Sports

White calls fight fixing ‘a huge concern’ for UFC

Fight fixing is now a “huge concern” for the UFC amid several investigations into suspicious betting activity around a bout last month, UFC president Dana White told ESPN.

A Nov. 5 UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke is under scrutiny after a dramatic betting line movement in the hours before the event. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has suspended both Minner and his coach, James Krause, who ran an MMA betting Discord page and podcast, pending its investigations.

When asked by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in an interview Thursday whether fight fixing is a concern, White said: “Huge concern. … Now that there’s an investigation and it could be possible that it happened, yeah.”

The FBI is collecting information and has spoken to people regarding the Minner vs. Nuerdanbieke fight, multiple sources told ESPN. White declined to comment on the possibility of FBI involvement.

“There’s an investigation going on,” he said. “I can’t talk about any of this stuff. It’s crazy.”

The UFC previously said it has been cooperating “with multiple ongoing government investigations” into the fight.

Last week, the promotion announced that any fighter who continued to train under Krause at Glory MMA in Missouri would not be allowed to participate in UFC events while the probes are ongoing. The UFC released Minner on Dec. 2, the day it announced its sanctions against Krause.

Since the Minner-Nuerdanbieke fight, Canadian provinces Ontario and Alberta banned betting on UFC fights and the state of New Jersey banned betting on bouts involving Krause. Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis reinstated UFC betting Friday, based on the actions the promotion has taken against Krause and the NSAC’s investigations.

White said that Ontario and Alberta “overreacted” in announcing the initial bans.

“Am I shocked the Canadian government overreacted?” he said. “I am not.”

Multiple sportsbooks reported receiving unusual betting interest on Nuerdanbieke to win by knockout in the first round and for the fight to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. The odds on the fight moved dramatically in the hours leading up to the featherweight bout in Las Vegas, with Nuerdanbieke moving from a -220 favorite to a -420 favorite.

Just 30 seconds into the fight, Minner threw a left kick to Nuerdanbieke’s body and immediately grimaced and reached for his left leg. Nuerdanbieke closed in and Minner went for another left body kick before Nuerdanbieke dropped Minner with a knee to the head and finished on the ground with elbows. The TKO stoppage came at 1:07 of the first round.

The unusual betting action prompted an investigation by U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas firm that works with sportsbooks and gaming regulators to monitor the betting market. The UFC also said it was investigating the fight with its partner Don Best Sports.

On Oct. 17, three weeks before the Minner-Nuerdanbieke fight, the UFC informed fighters and teams that fighters, coaches and other team members are prohibited from betting on UFC fights moving forward.

“We’ve always told the fighters, as all the gambling stuff started to heat up, stay away from gambling,” White said. “Do you know how stupid you have to be to get involved in something like that?”

White called the situation “unfortunate,” but said it “has happened in every sport.”

“In every sport, somebody thinks they’re smarter than everybody else when really they’re the dumbest guy in the room,” White said. “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.”

White previously said Nov. 11 that there was “absolutely zero proof that anybody that was involved bet on” the fight.

“There were some signs out there that something was wrong, but there’s absolutely no proof that [anybody] did anything wrong,” White said.

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