UFC Fighters Banned From Betting
By: SHEA ROBARDS / STAFF REPORTER
As of October 17th, 2022 fighters and managers were informed of the new change in their athlete conduct policy; UFC has banned competitors and team members from betting on fights. This prohibits them from gambling on any UFC fights, regardless of their involvement in said fight.
Hunter Campbell, UFC’s Chief Business Officer, sent out the memo informing the fighters and their teams of the new policy and the consequences that may follow should they choose not to accept the new Code of Conduct. Stating “In some instances, violations of these prohibitions could result in criminal charges. The UFC’s contracted athletes are not exempt from these prohibitions”.
This comes as a surge of legalizing sports betting has overtaken America. While sports gambling was previously only legal in Nevada, there are currently 31 states that have legalized sports gaming. Washington D.C. Sports betting has also been legalized in five additional states, but it is not yet operational.
Sports betting has been illegal outside of Nevada since 1992 when congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) in 1992. New Jersey was the first state after Nevada to legalize sports betting. After a long legal battle beginning in 2011, New Jersey was able to launch legal sports betting in 2018, with 34 other states following in the last four years.
Sponsorships have not been influenced by this policy, and competitors are still allowed to secure sponsors with sports betting companies such as DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM, and serve as brand ambassadors. Some fighters get paid by betting sponsors for giving their picks on fights, this will continue to be allowed under the UFC's code of conduct.
Controversy has arisen from the new policy, as many fighters used the betting game as a way to hype up the crowd and make more revenue for their fights.
A 2021 fight between Justin Jaynes and Charles Rosa is an example of excessive betting during the UFC season. Before the fight, Jaynes publicly revealed that he bet $25,000 - his entire fight paycheck - on himself winning the match. Rosa won in a split decision. Jaynes had spoken to fans about the public criticism of his actions stating, “Let me bet what I wanna bet. I believe in myself, I believe in my coaching staff, I believe in my ability, I believe in my full training camp.”
However, another side of this new policy has peaked with the knowledge that fighters may throw their fight in order to make money on a bet. Former UFC fighter Bang Tae-Hyun was one example found to be given a 10-month jail term in South Korea, in November 2017, after he was found guilty of accepting a bribe to throw his fight in a UFC bout (The AllStar).
This is not the first time in history that members of major leagues have been banned from excessive betting. Baseball legend Pete Rose was excommunicated from MLB in 1989 for gambling on games (History). As well as Calvin Ridley, former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, in the NFL was suspended for at least a year following the same policy, despite not playing during the season he placed bets on. (Skysports).
Sports have already followed this protocol for 101 years, following the Chicago White Sox players who were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series in collaboration with sports gamblers, a scandal that forever changed professional sports. (Washington Post)
All in all, the new policy has stirred up trouble for some MMA fighters and may continue to cause issues if the fighters refuse to follow the new policy. But it will be up to the fighters themselves to follow the new policy or disobey it and face the consequences.