UFC Betting Controversy: Not A Fair Fight Between Gamblers And Sportsbooks?

by Eric Raskin, SportsHandle


Sports betting is often a game of information, but there’s a fine line between what’s in bounds and what’s out of bounds. Sometimes a peculiar wagering pattern is merely peculiar. Sometimes it crosses over from peculiar to suspicious. And sometimes it goes from suspicious to improper.

As it pertains to a UFC featherweight fight in Las Vegas this past Saturday, at least the first of those lines — from peculiar to suspicious — was crossed, and an investigation is underway to determine whether it went from suspicious to improper as well.

As David Purdum and Marc Raimondi reported for ESPN, Shayilan Nuerdanbieke’s first-round TKO win over Darrick Minner came on the heels of betting that was flagged as suspicious by numerous sportsbooks. Money came in on the favored Nuerdanbieke to win, on him to prevail in the first round, and on the fight to last under 2.5 rounds.

The betting led numerous sportsbooks to contact the Las Vegas-based monitoring firm U.S. Integrity and report what they perceived as suspicious activity — which appeared more suspicious when rumors swelled that Minner was coming into the fight with a leg injury. Just 30 seconds into the fight, Minner kicked at Nuerdanbieke with his left leg and winced in apparent pain after landing. Nuerdanbieke promptly took Minner down and pounded away until the fight was officially stopped after 67 seconds of action.

U.S. Integrity President Matthew Holt was not at liberty to discuss specifics of the incident because there was still an investigation ongoing when Sports Handle spoke with him this week, but he did give indicators of the potential gravity of the situation.

“The information that was sent across was really, really strong,” Holt said. “It’s been rare that we have incidents involving UFC. This was very abnormal.”

When U.S. Integrity receives reports like this, the company sends alerts to the betting operators it works with, accompanied by a mandated response form asking a series of simple questions about the betting on the event in question at that sportsbook and whether it was abnormal in any way.

“This one,” Holt told Sports Handle, “I think we got more responses from operators than basically any alert we sent out in 2022, from operators saying they saw suspicious activity.”

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