Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, then you are well aware of or at least have heard about the probe that a U.S.-based betting integrity firm recently launched to investigate “irregular betting patterns” involving a Featherweight bout between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke at UFC Vegas 64. Nuerdanbieke won the fight via TKO, 1:07 into the first round after Minner seemingly injured himself throwing a kick, and Shayilan, smelling the blood in the water, went in and got the finish.
The irregular betting started the morning of the fight and saw the line on Minner move from around plus 170 to over a plus 300 underdog by the close of betting. The line on Nuerdanbieke, on the other hand, moved from a minus 210 to a minus 420 favorite by the start of the fight. With most of that money coming in on a first-round finish or win via KO/TKO. Suspicions were raised when money continued to pour in on Nuerdanbieke, even after the odds had worsened considerably.
Not The First Time
Although this isn’t the first time the UFC has dealt with this sort of scandal, it is definitely the most high-profile case they have had. The only real comparison would be UFC Fight Night 79 in November 2015, where Tae Hyun Bang was involved in a fight-fixing/betting scandal when he faced off against Leo Kuntz. Fortunately, UFC officials had noticed a similar odds swing to what just recently occurred and spoke with both camps before the fight, causing Tae Hyun Bang to get cold feet and not go through with the fix. Bang won the bout via decision but ended up serving jail time after the subsequent investigation.
Krause And Co. Have To Go
So far, the UFC has reacted swiftly in light of the current investigation by releasing Darrick Minner and suspending coach and former fighter James Krause and anyone affiliated with his gym, Glory MMA out of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. The UFC released a statement on Friday that reads in part, “Effective immediately, 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 the aforementioned government investigation.” Fighters on that list include David Onama, Jeff Molina, Tim Elliott, and interim Flyweight Champ Brandon Moreno.
The Krause Connection
While this whole investigation seems to center around James Krause and Glory MMA, the rabbit hole goes a bit deeper than you may think. It’s no secret that Krause likes to bet on fights. In a recent interview with Ariel Helwani, Krause stated he bets “On every card, almost every fight.” Including the fighters, he himself coaches. While that may be a bit unethical as a coach, it has never been explicitly banned the same way it has in other professional sports.
Although I can’t speak on what is happening with the investigation, the problems, for me at least, began to arise after Krause, in the same aforementioned interview, casually mentions that he has a Discord group with well over two thousand members and that he sells fight picks to them, for between 50 and 2,000 dollars per month. He also stated that he makes more from betting than anything else. Then, less than two months after this information comes out, one of the fighters he coaches is suddenly involved in a betting scandal. Even under the best of circumstances, that seems a little suspicious.
Say It Isn’t So
As of the time of writing, the investigation is still active, and there is no direct proof I’m aware of that James Krause may have tipped off his Discord group to his fighters’ possible injury before the fight. Still, there seemed to be plenty of opportunity to do so. Hopefully, this is just a big misunderstanding in the end, and everyone comes away a little older and a little wiser, but only time will tell what comes of this.