South Korean authorities investigate potential “fight fixing”
April 21, 2017
South Korean officials are investigating a potential fight fixing issue from UFC Fight Night 79 from November 2015. Fighters Tae Hyun Bang and Leo Kunts were warned by UFC official before their fight on the night per MMA Junkie.
Bang is reportedly under police investigation for allegedly taking a bribe. One South Korean news outlet reported that Bang took $2 billion Korean won (approximately $1.7 million U.S. dollars) if Kuntz would prevail. Another report suggests Bang accepted a bribe of $100 million won (approximately $87,000) while wagering $50 million (approximately $43,000) on his opponent.
Bang went from a slight favorite to a massive underdog in betting lines prior to the fight. The swing in odds may have been the reason that tipped UFC officials to confront both fighters.
Bang defeated Kuntz by split decision.
There have been several other instances in other sports in South Korea where match fixing has been a concern. In 2016, South Korean police charged 21 people including two professional baseball pitchers in the KBO League on suspicion of match fixing. In recent years, the authorities have investigated professional soccer, baseball and volleyball players on suspicion of manipulating game outcomes in return for bribes.
Kuntz stated that he did not know what was going on although he confirmed that the UFC talked to him prior to the fight. He also did not think that Bang tried to lose per comments made to MMA Fighting.
This is the first formal investigation into fight fixing in the UFC. The issue is a concern for the company considering that the sport always discusses gambling lines. It’s not the big fights to be concerned with but the lower-tier matchups because those are the one where a fighter does not make as much and there is less scrutiny unless there is a wide swing in betting lines. Match fixing is an issue in South Korea but the concern also arose at UFC 193 where a betting ban was imposed over concerns with “integrity issues.”