MMA fighters sticking with James Krause face ban amid gambling probes

Fighters advised to not align with MMA coach James Krause (1:08)

Marc Raimondi reports on the UFC telling fighters to disassociate from MMA coach James Krause until the investigation of suspicious betting activity is settled. (1:08)

Fighters who remain involved with MMA coach James Krause will be temporarily banned from participating in UFC events, pending several investigations into suspicious betting activity, the UFC announced Friday.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) informed Krause on Nov. 18 that his corner license was suspended and would remain so as the commission investigates the happenings of a Nov. 5 fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke that triggered multiple gambling investigations, per the UFC.

Krause coached Minner in the fight. Minner has been released by the UFC, the promotion said Friday.

"UFC has since advised Krause and the respective managers working with impacted fighters, that effective immediately, fighters who choose to continue to be coached by Krause or who continue to train in his gym, will not be permitted to participate in UFC events pending the outcome of the aforementioned government investigations," the UFC statement read. "Further, UFC has released Darrick Minner from the organization."

UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell sent a memo to UFC fighters and their teams Friday with similar messaging. The promotion said it has been cooperating "with multiple ongoing government investigations" into the Minner vs. Neurdanbieke fight.

"Along with the safety and health of its fighters, UFC believes there is no more important component of professional mixed martial arts than the integrity of the sport," the UFC statement read.

The statement went on to reference a memo UFC sent out in October, telling fighters that they, their coaches and others involved with their teams were no longer permitted to bet on UFC fights, per the UFC code of conduct. Before that memo, the UFC had no betting rules.

"This was an extension of UFC's pre-existing (and since updated) fighter Code of Conduct," the statement continued, "as well as a recognition of various state, federal, and international laws and regulations expressly prohibiting conduct that threatens the integrity of the sport including, but not limited to, insider betting based on non-public information, fight-fixing, and other such misconduct. UFC will continue to take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure compliance with and enforcement of its policies and those of the jurisdictions in which it operates."

Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement Friday that Bellator will follow regulatory guidelines when it comes to any fighters or coaches implicated in this situation.

Multiple sportsbooks reported receiving unusual betting interest on Neurdanbieke to win by knockout in the first round and for the fight to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. The odds on the fight moved dramatically in the hours leading up to the featherweight bout in Las Vegas, with Neurdanbieke moving from a -220 favorite to a -420 favorite.

Just 30 seconds into the fight, Minner threw a left kick to Nuerdanbieke's body and immediately grimaced and reached for his left leg. Nuerdanbieke closed in and Minner went for another left body kick before Nuerdanbieke dropped Minner with a knee to the head and finished on the ground with elbows. The TKO stoppage came at 1:07 of the first round.

UFC president Dana White said last month before UFC 281 in New York that there is "absolutely zero proof that anybody that was involved bet on" the fight.

"There were some signs out there that something was wrong, but there's absolutely no proof that [anybody] did anything wrong," White said.

The unusual betting action prompted an investigation by U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas firm that works with sportsbooks and gaming regulators to monitor the betting market. The UFC also said it was investigating the fight with its partner Don Best Sports. The investigations are ongoing.

In addition, the Nevada State Athletic Association is planning to take disciplinary action against Minner for "non-disclosure on his pre-fight medical form" during a Dec. 14 meeting, according to executive director of the NSAC Jeff Mullen.

Krause and a representative for Minner did not respond to a request for comment Friday. Both have not yet directly addressed the situation publicly, though Minner has posted several times on Instagram about his leg injury.

Krause, 36, has not fought since 2020 and officially announced his retirement in an interview with The MMA Hour in August. Krause has coached high-level MMA fighters at his Glory MMA and Fitness gym in Lee's Summit, Missouri, for years. His most notable current fighter is UFC interim flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, who is scheduled for a title unification fight with Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 238 on Jan. 21, in Brazil. Moreno has been training with Krause since earlier this year.

On his Instagram account Friday night, Moreno posted a photo of him hugging Krause, along with the caption, "Waiting for justice."

On Nov. 19, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement notified the state's licensed sportsbook that they were no longer allowed to offer betting on any fight Krause was involved with, "including as a coach, trainer, promotor or fighter."

Krause has been open about his sports betting, running a popular Discord channel and podcast on YouTube known as the 1% Club. He also formerly contributed to a betting show for ESPN on YouTube. Krause's Discord and YouTube channels were taken down Nov. 24.

In the interview with "The MMA Hour," Krause said, "I make more gambling on MMA than I do anything else," and added that he bets on "every single card, just about every fight."

On Thursday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) ordered registered entities to cease offering and accepting wagering on the UFC "due to non-compliance with AGCO's betting integrity requirements." The AGCO is concerned that the UFC's gambling policy only prohibits athletes from betting on fights and doesn't go far enough to prohibit all individuals with privy to inside information.

"We have indicated to operators that, once the necessary remedial steps have been taken, they may provide information demonstrating that UFC betting products meet the registrar standards," said Katherine Cunningham, a regulatory compliance manager of internet gaming. "We're committed to working closely with operators and the UFC to ensure that gambling is provided safely and responsibly in Ontario."

On Friday, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis government agency instructed the provinces operators to cease offering betting on UFC.

Krause has cornered multiple fighters in UFC title fights. As a fighter, he had a 28-8 record, was a two-time contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show and had a six-fight UFC winning streak between 2015 and 2019. He made his professional MMA debut in 2007, after a decorated amateur career.