MMA fighters sticking with James Krause face ban amid gambling probes

by David Purdum and Marc Raimondi, ESPN


Fighters who remain involved with MMA coach James Krause will be temporarily banned from participating in UFC events, pending several investigations into suspicious betting activity, the UFC announced Friday.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) informed Krause on Nov. 18 that his corner license was suspended and would remain so as the commission investigates the happenings of a Nov. 5 fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke that triggered multiple gambling investigations, per the UFC.

Krause coached Minner in the fight. Minner has been released by the UFC, the promotion said Friday.

“UFC has since advised Krause and the respective managers working with impacted fighters, that 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 investigations,” the UFC statement read. “Further, UFC has released Darrick Minner from the organization.”

UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell sent a memo to UFC fighters and their teams Friday with similar messaging. The promotion said it has been cooperating “with multiple ongoing government investigations” into the Minner vs. Neurdanbieke fight.

“Along with the safety and health of its fighters, UFC believes there is no more important component of professional mixed martial arts than the integrity of the sport,” the UFC statement read.

The statement went on to reference a memo UFC sent out in October, telling fighters that they, their coaches and others involved with their teams were no longer permitted to bet on UFC fights, per the UFC code of conduct. Before that memo, the UFC had no betting rules.

“This was an extension of UFC’s pre-existing (and since updated) fighter Code of Conduct,” the statement continued, “as well as a recognition of various state, federal, and international laws and regulations expressly prohibiting conduct that threatens the integrity of the sport including, but not limited to, insider betting based on non-public information, fight-fixing, and other such misconduct. UFC will continue to take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure compliance with and enforcement of its policies and those of the jurisdictions in which it operates.”

Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement Friday that Bellator will follow regulatory guidelines when it comes to any fighters or coaches implicated in this situation.

Multiple sportsbooks reported receiving unusual betting interest on Neurdanbieke 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 Neurdanbieke 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.

UFC president Dana White said last month before UFC 281 in New York that there is “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.

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. The investigations are ongoing.

In addition, the Nevada State Athletic Association is planning to take disciplinary action against Minner for “non-disclosure on his pre-fight medical form” during a Dec. 14 meeting, according to executive director of the NSAC Jeff Mullen.

Krause and a representative for Minner did not respond to a request for comment Friday. Both have not yet directly addressed the situation publicly, though Minner has posted several times on Instagram about his leg injury.

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