Has Dana White Lost Control Of UFC? | Investigations Loom, Fighters And Coaches Banned And A Betting Scandal

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LAS VEGAS, NV- AUGUST 16: Dana White speaks to the media following week 4 of the Dana White Contender Series on August 16, 2022, at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

When the betting lines during a UFC fight began weirdly fluctuating, the UFC and federal authorities realized they might have a problem. It all started when UFC featherweight Darrick Minner faced Shayilan Nuerdanbieke at UFC Fight Night 214: Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Lemos on Nov. 5 in Las Vegas. In the first round, Minner lost the fight via technical knockout after appearing to injure his knee one minute and seven seconds into the bout.

It seemed a typical injury until considering the betting lines fluctuated hours before the fight. Multiple sportsbooks reported unusual interest in Nuerdanbieke winning by knockout in the first round and for the fight to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. Nuerdanbieke moved from a -220 favorite to a -420 favorite on the betting line just hours before the event.

Fluctuating The Betting Line

Minner is coached by former UFC fighter James Krause, who runs a betting podcast and Discord social media page. Then the premier state athletic commission in the country, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, suspended the licenses of Minner and Krause. The UFC followed suit, dropped Minner from its roster, and banned Krause and any fighters trained by him or in his gym, Glory MMA & Fitness, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Then provinces of Ontario and Alberta in Canada began to stop their citizens from betting on UFC fights. Additionally, the state of New Jersey banned betting on fights where Krause is the coach. Eventually, Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission reinstated UFC betting after the fight organization took action against Krause. More than anything, now speculation hangs over the probity of the UFC competitive system overall.

“I am not worried about it at all,” UFC president Dana White said at the UFC 282 post-fight press conference on Saturday. “People ask me, well, what’s the UFC going to do? We let these guys know not to bet on fights. Do you know what the outcome of this is? If I penalize them, you get cut.

“They are gonna go to fu****g federal prison, federal fu****g prison. If you are that f*cking stupid and anyone else wants to do it,knock yourself out. There is not enough money in it to ruin your life, and not go to jail, go to federal prison.”

Toe The Line

UFC’s chief business officer, Hunter Campbell, issued a memo to all fighters on the UFC’s roster to establish a moratorium on betting for active fighters and coaches and warning them of association with Krause or his gym.

“UFC believes there is no more important component of professional mixed martial arts than the integrity of the sport,” the statement read. “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.”

Has Dana White Lost Control Of UFC?

The circumstances have reverberated to other bouts that have championship implications. Current interim UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno trains at Krause’s gym, Glory MMA & Fitness, and his next fight is scheduled for UFC 283 on Jan. 21, where his title is on the line in a rematch with Deivson Figueiredo. The champion will have to switch gyms if he wants to defend his title.

Additionally, the places where Krause and his fighters can do business are getting thin, as UFC’s rival promotion, Bellator MMA, has also released a statement mirroring the stance of the UFC.

“That’s, to me, totally unacceptable,” Coker said during the post-fight press conference after Saturday’s Bellator 289 event at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. “Everybody has to put their foot down. I do know that the legal department is taking a look at what’s going on right now, and they’ll come out with what they feel are maybe some changes that we are going to have to make.

“But that kind of behavior is just not acceptable because it could ruin a lot of good things for a lot of people that have worked a lot of years to get to a certain point. It really just can’t happen in this sport. It’s unacceptable.”

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.