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Sportsbooks report suspicious betting activity on UFC fight

Suspicious betting activity was reported on Saturday’s UFC fight in Las Vegas between Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Darrick Minner that Nuerdanbieke won by technical knockout at 1:07 of the first round.

U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas-based betting integrity firm that monitors the betting market and works with sportsbooks, received reports of suspicious wagering from a large number of regulated books, company president Matt Holt told the Review-Journal.

“We noticed some dramatic movement,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said.

In the hours before the fight at the Apex, odds soared on Nuerdanbieke, the favorite, to not only beat Minner but to win by first-round knockout and on the bout to go under the total of 2½ rounds. All three bets cashed easily.

“We did see a flood of action come in on all of the above,” Circa Sports UFC oddsmaker and risk supervisor Nick Kalikas said. “We did lose on the fight, but we’ve taken bigger losses under normal circumstances, too.”

Nuerdanbieke opened as a -195 favorite at Circa and closed at -405, meaning bettors had to wager $405 to win $100.

“We started getting hit around noon,” Kalikas said. “We were at -245 and then moved it up gradually.”

Kalikas said under 2½ opened at -120 and closed at -250.

“We did get hit on the total of under 2½,” he said. “The whole market did.”

Minner threw a body kick 30 seconds into the fight and was in obvious pain as he clutched his left leg. He then attempted another kick before falling to the canvas after taking a knee to the head from Nuerdanbieke, who finished him on the ground with elbows and punches.

“I don’t necessarily think it was a fixed fight, but it was more a case of injury information from the training camp getting leaked out,” Kalikas said. “Sometimes it does and it ends up spreading like fire.

“Often times, you see lines move because of injury information and the team wins anyway.”

According to ESPN, a source familiar with Minner’s camp said his left knee was “absolutely injured going into the fight.”

Professional UFC handicapper Lou Finocchiaro released a play on Minner as a +180 underdog but changed his mind shortly before the bout because of the dramatic line moves.

“It was information that got out that Minner had a bad knee that caused the lines to go crazy,” said Finocchiaro (@GambLou). “Someone knew something and, because of the suspicious moves, I ended up betting on Nuerdanbieke. Only because I smelled something.

“I don’t think this was fixed. But it’s a bad look and it comes out of one of the more reputable MMA coach’s gym.”

Minner’s coach is James Krause, a popular former fighter and known sports bettor who hosts the “1% Club” podcast and gives out best bets on a Discord channel.

The suspicious wagers were reported less than a month after the UFC prohibited fighters and their teams from betting on UFC fights.

The UFC responded to the matter Monday in a statement to the RJ:

“Like many professional sports organizations, UFC works with an independent betting integrity service to monitor wagering activity on our events.

“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.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter. Reporter Adam Hill contributed to this report. Contact him at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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