Disclaimer: The following information is sourced from various credible media reports. We do our best to get the most accurate information.
Betting on combat sports, particularly the UFC, has become increasingly popular in recent years, both for fans as well as the fighters themselves. It’s not a surprise either – it captivates enthusiasts with the thrill of predicting fight outcomes and potentially reaping financial rewards.
However, betting on UFC fights also carries lots of questions and uncertainties. We’ll address the most frequently asked questions surrounding UFC betting, shedding light on topics such as the legality of betting on UFC fights, the new gambling policy implemented by the UFC as well as whether fighters can bet on fights today, potential consequences for fighters caught betting, and various other nuances.
Are UFC Fighters Allowed to Bet on UFC fights?
As of October 2022, UFC fighters are not allowed to bet on UFC fights, including their own. The policy change was implemented to maintain the integrity of the sport, prevent misuse of insider information, and comply with regulations set by sports betting industry regulators in the U.S.
Prior to this policy change, betting was actually allowed and was not only widespread, but openly promoted by the fighters themselves who used to tweet about their picks and winning bets for example.
What Is the New Gambling Policy in the UFC?
The most recent UFC conduct policy prohibits UFC fighters and their teams from betting on any UFC fights directly or through a third party.
Here is an excerpt of the memo from Hunter Campbell, the chief business officer of the UFC, that was sent out to the promotion’s roster and athlete managers:
“… 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.”Hunter Campbell, UFC Chief Business Officer
Hunter Campbell further explained and cautioned athletes that certain states not only prohibit them from participating in sports betting but also extend this rule to their training teams, family members, and individuals who possess inside information about the athletes and their events. Violation of these restrictions may lead to criminal charges, per Campbell.
Did the James Krause Incident Influence the UFC’s Gambling Policy?
UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell’s memo indicates that no particular incident sparked the new policy change. He claimed the new gambling policy change was made “in light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the United States.”
However, many people believe that a very controversial incident involving James Krause, a well-known MMA coach and former UFC fighter, triggered the UFC to rapidly overhaul its gambling policy in October 2022. Aside from coaching fighters, Krause regularly placed bets on UFC fights.
In the lead-up to UFC Fight Night 214 in November 2022, there was suspicious line movement among sportsbooks for the bout between Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Krause’s fighter, Darrick Minner. In the final hours before the fight, the odds for a Nuerdanbieke win by knockout/TKO experienced a drastic shift from -220 to -420. This sudden change was primarily attributed to an influx of bets being placed on Nuerdanbieke to win by that method.
The fight ended in a first-round TKO victory for Nuerdanbieke after a leg kick hurt and injured Minner before some elbows finished the job. It was later revealed that Minner had been carrying an undisclosed knee injury into the fight, which likely played a significant role in his early defeat.
Krause’s presence in Minner’s corner raised suspicions about potential inside information and the impact it may have had on the fight’s outcome. In response, U.S. Integrity initiated an investigation, prompting the UFC to conduct a comprehensive review of the betting activity surrounding the fight.
Subsequently, Krause faced suspension and had his license revoked by the Nevada Athletic Commission. New Jersey also prohibited fights involving Krause, and the Canadian province of Ontario banned all UFC-related betting.
The UFC implemented measures to address the situation, including the announcement that fighters coached or training in Krause’s gym would not be permitted to compete in UFC events. As a result of this, many fighters had to cut ties with Krause, including UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno.
Minner was released from the organization, and reports suggested that the FBI became involved in the matter. UFC president Dana White warned his fighters not to get involved in such activities or risk going to prison.
The UFC would later announce U.S. Integrity as its official partner to monitor fight betting activity and all these changes resulted in Ontario later reinstating gambling on UFC fights in January 2023.
What Happens If UFC Fighters Get Caught Betting on UFC Fights?
The recent UFC betting scandal involving James Krause highlights the severe consequences that UFC fighters may face if caught betting on UFC fights. That is, UFC fighters could risk having their contract terminated, having their state license suspended, and even facing criminal charges as potential consequences.
RECOMMENDED READING: What is Banned/Illegal in the UFC?
Can UFC Fighters Bet on Non-UFC MMA fights?
The new gambling policy of the UFC does not forbid its fighters from betting on other MMA promotions such as Bellator, ONE Championship, or the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
“The fighters aren’t prohibited from betting on any other sports or from wagering on other MMA promotions.”UFC Athlete Conduct Policy updated to prohibit fighters from betting on UFC matches. (n.d.). Sports.yahoo.com.
As per the memo from Hunter Campbell, the policy only prohibits “athletes from wagering on any UFC match.” Campbell also wrote that fighters are still allowed to have sports betting companies as their sponsors and will help fighters determine the restrictions in their home states.
Can I Legally Bet on UFC fights?
Yes, it is completely legal to bet on UFC fights in many jurisdictions and states, provided you do so through a licensed bookmaker or betting platform. The exact laws and regulations vary by country and even by state or province within countries, so it’s best to check the specific laws and regulations where you are located.
What Happens If You Bet on a UFC Fight and It Is a Draw?
In most cases, if a UFC fight ends in a draw, bets on either fighter to win are usually refunded as the bet is void. However, the specific rules depend on the betting platform and the type of bet placed.
For example, if a draw option is offered as a potential bet, any bet you place on an opponent is effectively settled as a loss as you can choose to bet on the fight ending as a draw.
What Is the Difference Between Minus and Plus Spread?
In betting terms, an easy way to remember what the “minus” symbol indicates is that it’s the favorite and shows how much you need to wager to win a certain amount. The “plus” symbol indicates the underdog and shows how much you could win if you wager a certain amount.
For example, a -200 favorite means you would need to bet $200 to win $100, while a +200 underdog means you would win $200 if you bet $100.
When it comes to the point spread, this is a figure set by oddsmakers to provide a numerical advantage or disadvantage based on the margin of victory or defeat for a given team.
The team that is the favorite — or most likely to win — will be given a negative point spread, meaning they would need to win by more than that number of points. The “underdog” — or least likely to win — is given a positive point spread, meaning they could lose by up to that many points, or win the game, and still cover the spread.
Speaking of covering the spread, this is a betting term which means a team or player has achieved the desired result of the bettor. Another term you may have heard is betting the spread — this simply means placing a bet on whether a team or player will perform better or worse than the point spread.