The UFC has strengthened its stance regarding betting on UFC fights while at the same time announcing an official partnership with gambling watchdog U.S. Integrity.
According to a statement from Riché T. McKnight, executive vice president and general counsel of UFC, the UFC has “…expanded our discussion of so-called ‘UFC Insiders’ to make clear that these same prohibitions against wagering apply to an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, and other individuals affiliated with the athletes or UFC, and that violations by these Insiders may result in disciplinary action against related contract athletes. Finally, we have reiterated our expectation that our contract athletes will come to us to report any matters that might raise integrity concerns.”
In October 2022, the promotion released an addendum to its fighter code of conduct that read in part:
In light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the United States, we are compelled at this time to recognize in the UFC Athlete Conduct Policy certain restrictions relating to wagering by our athletes, members of their teams and certain others.
As you may already be aware, most states in which regulated sports betting is conducted prohibit athletes from wagering on promotions or events with which they are affiliated. Many states also extend this prohibition to the athletes’ training teams, family members and others that have access to “inside information” relating to the athletes and their events. In some instances, violations of these prohibitions could result in criminal charges. The UFC’s contracted athletes are not exempt from these prohibitions, which state legislators and regulators have implemented for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of our sport. In order to assist our athletes in understanding their obligations under the laws of the majority of states in which sports betting is permitted, and in further support of these integrity measures, UFC has incorporated a wagering prohibition into the UFC Athlete Conduct Policy expressly prohibiting athletes from wagering on any UFC match.
In November, thanks to an alert sent out by U.S. Integrity, an organization that identifies “suspicious behavior by analyzing changes in betting data against a benchmark of normal betting activity,” sportsbooks were informed of unusual betting activities around the November 5 UFC fight between the James Krause-coached Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke.
The line movement in that fight and the bets that were made ahead of the event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas have resulted in the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspending Krause, Minner and, more recently, Jeff Molina. Those suspensions will remain in place until the ongoing investigations into the betting activity around that fight get resolved.
At the same time the UFC published the changes to its policy around betting, the promotion announced its partnership with U.S. Integrity:
“Through U.S. Integrity, UFC will strengthen its current integrity controls by adding expertise in data intelligence and fraud prevention. There is no greater responsibility we have to our athletes, fans, and business partners than to ensure the integrity of our sport.
“U.S. Integrity will help us strengthen our existing best practices by applying their expertise in data intelligence to proactively identify irregular bout-level wagering patterns. This information can inform UFC’s response and can be preemptively shared with sports books, who can make informed decisions as to whether or not halt betting on a particular bout.”