Betting monitoring firm US Integrity has launched an investigation into a UFC fight which took place on Saturday, as reported by ESPN.
The sports media outlet explained that US Integrity, a Las Vegas/Nevada-based company, had been contacted by a number of sportsbooks that have been growing suspicious of betting trends on the Darrick Minner vs Shayilan Nuerdanbieke bout.
Chinese fighter Nuerdanbieke was the heavy favourite to win the featherweight matchup, and it appears that many punters felt the same.
ESPN reports that so many bettors placed wagers on the martial artist to win in the first round that some sportsbooks decided to take the fight off the market.
Rumours were also circulating that American Minner had been injured prior to the bout, prompting many bettors to back his opponent. Rapid changes in odds in favour of Nuerdanbieke in the immediate build-up to the fight were also noted.
These predictions were released when Minner appeared to be suffering from pain in his leg during the bout, and was ultimately stopped by Nuerdanbieke with a flurry of elbows one minute and seven seconds into the opening round.
Matthew Holt, US Integrity President, told ESPN: “Our goal as always is to notify the industry of any potential nefarious, abnormal or suspicious activity as soon as possible, so they can take action as quickly as possible.
“In this case, we hope that by sending a couple hours before the fight started, we may have helped prevent some more suspicious bets from getting through.”
US Integrity’s investigation comes just a few weeks after the UFC banned its fighters from betting on its own matches in an amendment of its Athlete Conduct Policy.
Sports betting has grown exponentially in the US since the repeal of PASPA, the federal law restricting gambling and wagering, in 2018.
So far, 30 states have legalised sports betting, with 21 that allow online betting, although the UFC has regularly held its events in Nevada, one of the country’s traditional hubspots of legal gambling, since the 1990s.
As legal sports betting continues to grow, the UFC has hinted that it has received encouragement from the state regulators to impose the recent betting ban.
In countries where legal betting is a staple of the national sporting scene such as the UK – which has been referred to as the ‘gold standard’ of regulation by some US commentators – athletes are completely forbidden from betting on any matches in the sport they participate in, whether or not they play for the team or in the league they are wagering on.
A statement from the MMA promotion announcing the change in Conduct Policy reads: “In light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the US, we are compelled at this time to recognise in the UFC Athlete Conduct Policy certain restrictions relating to wagering by our athletes, members of their teams and certain others.”