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UFC: No evidence fighters or their teams acted irresponsibly or unethically as betting probe opens

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 05: Darrick Minner reacts after suffering an apparent injury against Shayilan Nuerdanbieke of China in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Darrick Minner was stopped in the first round by Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on Saturday at UFC Vegas 64. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC) (Chris Unger via Getty Images)

About a month after a change in policy that banned UFC fighters and their close associates from betting on UFC fights, an investigation into irregular betting patterns involving a featherweight fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas on the main card of UFC Vegas 64 has begun, ESPN reported Sunday

Nuerdanbieke won by TKO at 1:07 of the first round. Minner threw a kick earlier in the fight and grimaced in pain before backing away to the cage. Nuerdanbieke went in for the finish and referee Mark Smith quickly halted it.

Minner has lost three fights in a row and is 2-4 in the UFC.

According to the ESPN report, money "poured in" on Nuerdanbieke at sports books in several states to win by knockout in the first round. ESPN further reported there were a slew of bets for the fight to last fewer than 2.5 rounds.

The UFC released a statement late Sunday in which it said its betting partner would investigate, but stressed that neither of the athletes or their teams are suspected of any illegal activity.

"Like many professional sports organizations, UFC works with an independent betting integrity service to monitor wagering activity on our events," the UFC statement read. "Our betting integrity partner, Don Best Sports, a leading global supplier of real-time betting data for North American sporting events, will conduct a thorough review of the facts and report its findings. At this time, we have no reason to believe either of the athletes involved in the bout, or anyone associated with their teams, behaved in an unethical or irresponsible manner."

Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas told Yahoo Sports via text on Sunday he "wasn't aware of anything like that at our book." The ESPN report did not specify which sports books received the bets.

Adding intrigue to the report is that James Krause, who is regarded as one of the sport's elite coaches and serves as Minner's coach, openly discussed his bets on UFC fights before the UFC's policy changed last month. The UFC changed its code of conduct policy to prohibit fighters and their close associates from betting on UFC fights because many states with legalized betting are enacting rules preventing athletes from betting on their sports.

Neither Krause nor either of the fighters are suspected of any illegal activity.

ESPN reported it had obtained an analysis conducted by a Las Vegas company called U.S. Integrity, which works with sports books and gaming regulators. Suspicions were raised, it reported, when bets on Nuerdanbieke continued even after the odds worsened.