While there’s no definitive conclusion to the ongoing investigations linked to the UFC’s November 5 fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Neurdanbieke, Dana White is now willing to admit that fight fixing is a “huge concern.”
“Huge concern. Now it is,” White stated in an interview with Brett Okamoto published on Monday. “Now it is. Now that there’s an investigation, and it could be possible that it happened.”
That’s in stark contrast to comments White made following UFC 282 over the weekend, with Cageside Press in attendance. In response to a question by MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn about whether White had any concerns over the integrity of the sport, the UFC President replied “Zero. Zero. I’m not worried about it at all.”
Interestingly enough, White alluded to the Okamoto interview during the UFC 282 post-fight press conference, suggesting it had already been recorded. And in it, White was clear that yes, fight fixing linked to gambling was a concern — one that has always been a possibility.
“This has always been a possibility. I just felt like, a lot of the guys that I’ve dealt with — it’s like with the whole, when we got into USADA and all this other stuff, I always like to give these guys the benefit of the doubt,” White told ESPN. “And at the time, you gotta think back, you really couldn’t bet enough on MMA to make it worth ruining your life. There wasn’t enough money in it.”
That has clearly changed. Betting on MMA is now a huge business, one that includes jurisdictions and nations across the globe, not just Nevada. In the wake of the betting irregularity detected surrounding Minner vs. Neurdanbieke, and the banishment of Minner’s coach James Krause from all UFC events (Minner himself was released by the promotion), two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Alberta, halted all betting action on UFC fights.
In his interview with ESPN, White called that an overreaction. Only one of the two, Alberta, has given the green light for betting to resume. Ontario’s AGCO recently told Cageside Press they were aware of actions the UFC had taken, but were not yet ready to reinstate the promotion at betting outlets in the province.
Regardless, big money is involved, and the Krause situation is a big concern for the UFC. It’s one White says fighters were warned about.
“We’ve always told the fighters, as all the gambling stuff started to heat up, ‘stay away from gambling.’ Do you know how stupid you have to be to get involved in something like that? Everybody gets caught,” White exclaimed. “You always get caught. And all they have to do is follow the money. Follow the money. But there’s a lot of people in prison for really dumb stuff. People really are that stupid, and things are gonna happen.”
“If this is all true, and this investigation ends up that this really happened, people are going to go to prison,” White added. “People aren’t going to go to jail, people are going to go to prison. And hopefully everybody else is watching it, taking notes.”
In recent weeks, the scope of the investigations underway has increased, with bodies like U.S. Integrity, the Nevada Athletic Commission, and reportedly, the FBI all involved. Asked by ESPN whether there was any truth to the FBI’s involvement, Dana White replied by saying only that “There’s an investigation going on. I can’t talk about any of this stuff. It’s crazy.”