In yet another strange happening in the UFC, the fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke at UFC Vegas 64 is under investigation by an independent betting commission after late movement patterns on the line, pushing Nuerdanbieke from -220 to a -440 favorite. The fight itself ended in the first round after Nuerdanbieke finished Minner by TKO, partially due to Minner having compromised his left leg, the one he was not seen kicking with.
This marks yet another controversy for the organization in the past year, as champion Charles Oliveira was stripped of his title after missing weight for his fight against Justin Gaethje. Upon further investigation, it was noted that the scale in the back room was over a half-pound off, as it showed that Oliveira had made weight at 155 pounds even when he did not.
Chaos in the UFC Leads to Scrutiny
Saturday’s UFC Vegas 64 featherweight bout between Darrick Minner (26-14-0 2-4-0 UFC) and Shaylian Nuerdanbieke (38-10-0 3-1-0 UFC) had a lot of curious movement on the betting line before the fight, and the fight itself reflected the late movement in the line. Early Saturday, rumors swirled that Minner was dealing with an injury, and the line jumped from -220 in favor of Nuerdanbieke to -440. Additionally, money came in favor of Nuerdanbieke to finish Minner by KO within one round, as well as the fight going less than 2.5 rounds.
The line moved so dramatically in the favor of Nuerdanbieke that some sportsbooks took the fight off the books, and noticed that something was amiss. Nonetheless, the fight went on as scheduled, and the result almost mirrored the betting, which meant that sportsbooks were correct in assuming that the public knew something that they did not.
During the fight, Minner threw a left body kick and immediately grimaced and reached for his left leg, and then attempted to throw another kick. Nuerdanbieke dropped Minner with a crushing knee to the head and rained devastating elbows down on the compromised Miller before the fight was stopped at 1:07 in the first round.
Nuerdanbieke picked up his first finish in the promotion, improving his record in the UFC to 3-1, while the ten-year veteran Minner lost his third straight fight, and four of six fights. Minner’s loss likely puts him on the outs in the UFC, and he may be included in the next round of roster cuts from Dana White and crew.
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Investigation into the Fight Begins
After the line moved in an almost prophetic manner, sportsbooks alerted an independent authority known as US Integrity, and they examined the betting on the fight three hours before the cage door closed. Even as the books moved odds to extremely unattractive numbers, betting on Nuerdanbieke continued, only increasing suspicions among sportsbooks and integrity offices.
US Integrity has no power to enforce rules, and so any response to its investigation would have to come from regulators or the UFC. Matthew Holt, president of U.S. Integrity, said the company cannot reveal any details of a confidential investigation.
“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,” Holt 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.”
Weeks before the fight, the UFC announced a rule that fighters and their teams were banned from wagering on UFC fights, according to Hunter Campbell. “And this wasn’t something the UFC advanced independently. This was something the UFC set forth in response from governmental agencies, aware we are also subject to governmental regulation as we’re licensed promoters in virtually every state. It’s the natural evolution of the sport.”
Many bettors thought that Minner threw the fight, while others speculated that Minner had a serious injury leading up to the fight. A source close to Minner confirmed that he was indeed injured, and thus attention towards the leak of this news was the reason why the line ballooned in favor of his opponent.
Suspicion on social media then turned towards James Krause, a semi-retired UFC welterweight who corners many fighters in the organization, as he is regarded as a gambling influencer in the sport. His relationships with his fighters such as David Onama and now Derrick Minner have come under fire, especially when rumors swirled that he directed his betting groups to cash out on Minner bets before the fight.
These allegations are unsubstantiated as of now, but leaking information on fighters’ statuses going into a fight can seriously jeopardize the integrity of the betting. Additionally, Krause or any other coaches having gambling positions on their fighters’ fights is unethical and puts the fighters in positions that they cannot afford to be in with shaky advice or pressure to continue in a fight even while injured.
As of press time, the UFC is still conducting its own independent investigation and has stated they have “no reason to believe” that Krause, Minner, or others acted in any unethical manner and that the fight went on without any nefarious activity. The movement on the betting line raises red flags, however, and it is up to the UFC to make concrete decisions regarding gambling regulations.
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