The UFC finds itself embroiled in one of MMA’s biggest controversies caused by suspicious betting activity surrounding a fight between Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Darrick Minner, which has led to several government agencies, including the FBI, investigating the promotion over concerns of fight fixing.
At the center of it all is former UFC fighter and current coach James Krause, who cornered Minner during the first-round TKO loss to Nuerdanbieke that set everything in motion.
Below is a timeline of what we know about the ongoing UFC betting scandal.
(Note: This post will continue to be updated as developments unfold.)
Aug. 1, 2022: Krause speaks openly about betting on UFC fights
In an appearance on “The MMA Hour,” Krause reveals – quite openly and casually – that he regularly bets on fights, including those involving his own fighters, with positive results. Krause touts the success of his MMA betting Discord channel, known as “The 1% Club,” and explains how he makes more money from gambling than he does coaching.
“I bet every single card, just about every fight,” Krause said. “… I make more money gambling on MMA than I do anything else. I don’t make sh*t on coaching, absolutely not. If you’re talking about time, if I go out on a Wednesday to Sunday (to corner fighters), I make 10 percent of (a guy’s purse) – if we’re not talking about Brandon Moreno, most of my guys are entry level guys making ($12,000 to show/$12,000 to win), 14/14. I have some guys making in the 20s. Even at that, 10 percent of 20 grand is $2,000. I’m on the road every weekend Wednesday through Sunday. It’s not even close.”
Oct. 17, 2022: UFC bans fighters from wagering on bouts
The UFC updates its “Athlete Code of Conduct” to include that fighters are no longer be allowed to bet on bouts.
The full amendment titled “Wagering” reads as follows:
“Athletes are prohibited from placing any wagers (directly or through a third party) on any UFC match, including placing any wagers on themselves. In most states with legalized sports betting, wagering by an athlete (directly or through a third party) on any MMA match put on by a promoter with which they are affiliated is illegal and may result in criminal sanction. Athletes should also be aware that in most states these same prohibitions apply to some or all of (i) relatives living in the same household as an athlete, (ii) an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals and staff, and (iii) any other person with access to non-public information regarding participants in any MMA match. An athlete that becomes aware or has knowledge of any wagering in violation of these restrictions must immediately notify UFC of such incident in accordance with this UFC Athlete Conduct Policy.”
Up until this point, the UFC had no in-house rules in place regarding fighters betting on their own or other fights. It’s unclear what led to the change. In a memo issued to fighters and managers, UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell said the decision was made “in light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the United States.”
Nov. 5, 2022: Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner suspicions arise
Darrick Minner kicks Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in a featherweight fight during UFC Fight Night 214 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
“Crazy line movement” among sportsbooks becomes apparent in the final hours leading up to a UFC Fight Night 214 bout between Nuerdanbieke and Minner, including odds for a Nuerdanbieke win by knockout/TKO drastically shifting from +300 to +155 caused by increased bets placed on Nuerdanbieke to win by that method.
Nuerdanbieke goes on to defeat Minner by first-round TKO via elbows in just 67 seconds. His win is assisted by Minner getting injured when he throws a kick. It’s later revealed that Minner had an undisclosed knee injury heading into the fight.
Minner is cornered by Krause. The fight’s outcome and the manner in which it ended raise suspicions about potential inside information.
Nov. 6, 2022: Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner under investigation
U.S. Integrity, a U.S.-based betting integrity firm, begins an investigation into the fight between Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner after sportsbooks in multiple states grew suspicious of the unusual betting leading up to the fight.
“Our goal as always is to notify the industry of any potential nefarious, abnormal or suspicious activity as soon as possible, so they can take action as quickly as possible,” Matthew Holt, president of U.S. Integrity, told ESPN. “In this case, we hope that by sending a couple hours before the fight started, we may have helped prevent some more suspicious bets from getting through.”
Nov. 7, 2022: UFC announces 'thorough review' into situation
Prompted by the U.S. Integrity investigation, the UFC announces that it will conduct a “thorough review” into the suspicious betting activity surrounding Nuerdanbieke’s win over Minner.
“Like many professional sports organizations, UFC works with an independent betting integrity service to monitor wagering activity on our events,” UFC said in a statement. “Our betting integrity partner, Don Best Sports, a leading global supplier of real-time betting data for North American sporting events, will conduct a thorough review of the facts and report its findings. At this time, we have no reason to believe either of the athletes involved in the bout, or anyone associated with their teams, behaved in an unethical or irresponsible manner.”
Nov. 11, 2022: White dismissive of controversy in first comments
In his first public comments on the controversy surrounding Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner, UFC president Dana White is dismissive and says the situation “was being made a bigger deal than it actually was.”
“There’s absolutely zero proof that anybody that was involved bet on it,” White said. “There was some signs out there that something was going on, but there’s absolutely no proof that anybody did anything wrong, and hopefully by seeing this investigation, it deters people from doing it. …
“The bottom line is this: You’re never gonna be able to bet enough money to win – it’s not worth the risk to bet on one of these fights. First of all, nobody even took the action on the fights. They just saw that that type of action was trying to come in, and it got shut down. But hopefully you see how easy that is to detect now.”
While White’s indication is that no wagers on the fight got through, betting lines typically shift only after action is taken.
Nov. 19, 2022: Krause not allowed to corner Johns at UFC Apex
Miles Johns punches Vince Morales in a bantamweight bout during UFC Fight Night 215 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
After his win at UFC Fight Night 215, Miles Johns confirms that Krause was informed the day before that he wouldn’t be allowed in Johns’ corner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Although Johns said Krause not cornering him was a UFC decision, it was the Nevada Athletic Commission that suspended Krause and removed his license.
Nov. 19, 2022: New Jersey takes action against Krause-involved fights
Dec. 1, 2022: Ontario gaming commission stops UFC wagering
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) bans gambling on UFC fights amidst concerns of insider betting and suspicious line movements surrounding Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner.
“In recent weeks, the AGCO has learned of publicized alleged incidents, including possible betting by UFC insiders, as well as reports of suspicious betting patterns in other jurisdictions,” an AGCO statement read. “Therefore, the AGCO is now taking this step in the public interest. AGCO has indicated to operators that, once the necessary remedial steps have been taken, they may provide information demonstrating that UFC bets or betting products meet the Registrar’s Standards.”
The AGCO adds that its decision is because “the UFC does not prohibit all insiders from betting on UFC events, which could include an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals, or other persons with access to non-public information.”
That statement is contrary to the “Wagering” amendment that was added to the UFC’s Athlete Code of Conduct on Oct. 17.
Dec. 2, 2022: Alberta becomes second Canadian province to ban UFC betting
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) announces that it has banned wagering on UFC fights, making it the second province in Canada to halt UFC gambling.
“As of Dec. 1, AGLC stopped offering and accepting wagers on UFC events due to possible risks of wagering integrity,” said Lynden McBeth, senior communications officer for AGLC. “Previously placed UFC wagers on PlayAlberta.ca have been voided and the stake returned to the player.
“AGLC will continue to monitor standards implemented by UFC before reinstating betting options on Play Alberta. We are continuing to monitor the situation. Once we are confident that UFC’s regulator body is effectively protecting fighters, fans and bettors, AGLC will give every consideration to reinstating betting markets on PlayAlberta.ca.”
Dec. 2, 2022: UFC prohibits Krause fighters from competition
Also on this day, the UFC announces that “fighters who choose to continue to be coached by Krause or who continue to train in his gym will not be permitted to participate in UFC events pending the outcome” of ongoing government investigations. Minner also is released.
You can read the UFC’s full statement here.
Dec. 9, 2022: White says UFC fight fixing a 'huge concern'; FBI involved
With several government investigations ongoing, White says in an interview with ESPN that fight fixing is a “huge concern” for the UFC.
“Now that there’s an investigation and it could be possible that it happened, yeah,” White said. He continued, “There’s an investigation going on. I can’t talk about any of this stuff. It’s crazy.”
ESPN, citing multiple sources, reports that the FBI is involved and collecting information regarding Nuerdanbieke’s win over Minner.
Dec. 10: White warns fighters of going to 'federal f*cking prison'
White says he has “zero” concern about the integrity of the UFC and issues a stern warning to fighters who might consider betting on fights with inside information.
“Do you know what the outcome of this is? Like, if I penalize them, you get cut,” White said. “They’re gonna go to f*cking federal prison. Federal. F*cking. Prison. If you’re that f*cking stupid and somebody else wants to do it, knock yourself out. There’s not enough money in it to ruin your life and, not go to jail, go to federal prison.”
Dec. 14: Nevada extends Krause, Minner suspensions indefinitely
The NAC agrees to extend the suspensions of Krause and Minner while an investigation continues. The official reason for their suspensions in November, which did not have time limits assigned to them, is for failure to disclose an injury to the commission, but there’s also the matter of Minner’s November fight against Shayilan Nuerdanbieke being under federal investigation for suspicious betting activity.
Dec. 24: Jeff Molina suspended by NAC
UFC flyweight [autotag]Jeff Molina[/autotag], according to a report from UFC broadcast partner ESPN, is the latest Nevada Athletic Commission suspension in the wake of the investigation. ESPN’s report indicated Molina’s suspension is related to the investigation. He trained with Krause for years. In early December, he pulled out of a Jan. 14 fight against Jimmy Flick – the day after the UFC said Krause fighters no longer are welcome in the UFC until they disassociate with him. Molina is listed as under suspension in the official MMA database, and is likely to be on the agenda of the NAC’s January meeting.
Jan. 12: Krause allegedly worked for offshore online sportsbook
As part of a lengthy investigative piece, ESPN reports that Krause worked for offshore online sportsbook ABCBetting.ag since at least 2019. Anonymous sources told ESPN that they placed bets through Krause, who served as an agent for the site, and claimed he offered a line of credit and referral kickbacks. He allegedly took payments through Venmo and PayPal.