UFC Fight Takes Center Stage Over Match-Fixing Claims

Darrick Minner, a veteran of 40 pro fights, was injured while landing a kick to the body of Chinese opponent Shayilan Nuerdanbieke during a match on the main card of UFC Vegas 64. Nuerdanbieke capitalized to secure the TKO, but it only brought controversy, as some believe the fight, which lasted all of 67 seconds, was rigged.

Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs Darrick Minner
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs Darrick Minner
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke delivers a blow to Darrick Minner in their UFC Vegas 64 fight. A series of bets ahead of the fight have some people questioning the outcome. (Image: ESPN)

U.S. Integrity (USI), a U.S-based betting integrity company, is investigating the fight, according to a report by ESPN. The investigation comes after multiple sportsbooks across the country reported suspicious wagering on the featherweight contest.

The odds of Nuerdanbieke defeating Minner increased dramatically in the hours before their contest. Bettors began putting money on the Chinese fighter not only to win, but to take out his opponent in the first round. So much movement that close to the start of the match didn’t go unnoticed.

Too Much Action Scares the Books

It wasn’t just the number of bets that set off alarms, but the number of bettors who were placing large amounts on Nuerdanbieke winning by knockout in Round 1. After a particularly damaging body kick, Minner seemed to have injured his leg. Nuerdanbieke quickly moved in for victory and ended the fight by landing a big knee, followed by a flurry of blows.

According to ESPN, Minner had a knee injury prior to the bout, which could have led to the increase in betting in favor of his Chinese opponent. His manager, Andrew Lee, denied the rumor.

Some fight fans believed Minner lost intentionally, while others believed he shouldn’t have been in the octagon to begin with. It was a situation similar to that of T.J. Dillashaw, who fought in UFC 280 while obviously injured.

In contrast to this past weekend’s fight, Dillashaw’s shoulder injury never surfaced before the contest. Even as Minner’s injury became news, the sportsbooks didn’t slow down. Despite the fact that Nuerdanbieke was expected to move to lower-priced options, the betting didn’t stop.

The odd betting activity caught the attention of the books, who contacted USI to take a closer look. In turn, the integrity association reached out to state gaming regulators and other sportsbooks with which it works. USI reportedly conducted a “thorough analysis,” but hasn’t released any details on the outcome of its investigation.

UFC Puts the Brakes on Betting

The UFC recently changed its policy regarding betting by fighters. Put simply, the practice isn’t welcome in the organization, and almost a complete ban is now in place.

This includes those who are related to, train with, or otherwise work closely with certain athletes. Although this is the same in almost every major sport, there was some resistance from UFC fighters, because many depend on the income they receive from betting.

This internal regulation bans fighters from betting on themselves, or more importantly, against themselves. In addition, they can’t place bets on matches, including round- or decision-based lines. The UFC, like other sports, has sponsors in the betting industry, and can’t afford to show any hint of betting impropriety.

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