Until October 2022, UFC fighters were allowed to bet on themselves. However, Dana White’s organization amended its code of conduct and banned betting altogether. As a result, fighters under the contract with this MMA promotion company cannot bet on any UFC fight.
So, if your question is, can fighters bet on themselves in UFC?
The answer is not anymore.
They can, however, bet on fights organized by other promotions (e.g., Bellator MMA or Cage Warriors). They also have the luxury to bet on non-MMA events like the NBA, NFL, and MLB and play casino games if they’re located within a non-prohibited jurisdiction.
Why Can’t UFC Fighters Bet on UFC Fights?
In the past, UFC fighters were allowed to bet on themselves. They did this to add an extra incentive to win the fight. However, they were never allowed to bet against themselves, as it would go against the rules of fair play.
Fighters were free to place bets on UFC fights that didn’t involve them directly, but even that is a thing of the past. Starting in October 2022, UFC fighters cannot bet on any UFC event, regardless of their involvement.
The new amendment to the code of conduct states that UFC fighters cannot gamble on any event organized by this promotion. In addition to MMA fighters, their families, coaches, and other team members can no longer bet on UFC fights.
According to Dana White, the decision to change the gambling policy came because of the company’s desire to boost its image. “People who regulate gambling don’t think it’s a good idea for fighters to be betting on themselves … And I agree. It doesn’t look good.”
The Curious Case of James Cruse
Everyone who doubted the UFC taking its anti-betting policy seriously was proved wrong just a few weeks after its passage. Fighter-turned-coach James Krause got in the spotlight in November 2022 when the UFC discovered irregular betting patterns on the fight involving his protégé Darrick Minner.
Minner became a huge underdog on the day of the fight after sportsbooks experienced a large influx of bets on his opponent Shayilan Nuerdanbieke. The Chinese fighter went from a -220 to a -420 favorite just hours before the bout. The sudden change in odds raised many red flags, making the Nevada State Athletic Commission launch an investigation.
Upon hearing about the investigation, the UFC decided to revoke Kruse’s coaching license. Furthermore, they announced that any fighter he trains won’t be allowed to participate in UFC events. White’s company decided on this move as they suspected that Cruse might have used insider knowledge (about Minner’s leg injury) to profit from sports betting.
Cruse’s case was the first time the UFC reacted with its anti-betting policies. The coach got suspended, and the same destiny awaits anyone who breaks the new rules.