UFC flyweight Molina a suspect in betting probe

UFC flyweight Molina a suspect in betting probe

UFC flyweight Jeff Molina is suspected of having “substantial involvement” in a betting scheme currently being probed by multiple government entities, Nevada deputy attorney general Joel Bekker said Tuesday at the Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting.

The NSAC temporarily suspended Molina last month, as first reported by ESPN, though the commission did not give a reason at the time. That suspension was extended Tuesday, pending the completion of investigations.

Bekker said evidence has come to light that Molina is suspected of being “involved in a substantial way” with the “gaming scheme currently under ongoing investigation related to [MMA coach] James Krause.”

Krause, who is Molina’s coach, and Darrick Minner have also both been temporarily suspended by the NSAC.

Minner’s Nov. 5 UFC fight against Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in Las Vegas has been flagged for suspicious betting activity. New Jersey and New York sportsbooks, as well as offshore bookmakers, reported unusual betting interest on Minner to lose in the first round and for the fight to last fewer than 2½ rounds. He lost by TKO just over a minute into the first round.

In the month after the fight, gambling enforcement authorities in New Jersey halted wagering on any events associated with Krause, and two Canadian jurisdictions temporarily suspended betting on the UFC. Alberta has since overturned the ban. Multiple sources have told ESPN that the FBI has been collecting information and interviewing people about the fight.

Currently, Krause and Minner are both suspended only for not disclosing a Minner leg injury on his prefight medical forms. Bekker’s use of the words “gaming scheme” Tuesday was the first official acknowledgement that the Nevada commission has further reason for those suspensions.

On Dec. 2, the UFC released Minner and notified fighters who continued to train with Krause or at his gym, Glory MMA & Fitness in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, that they would be banned from events pending the government investigations.

Molina has described himself on Twitter as an “MMA gambling degenerate” and often posted screenshots of betting slips online. He wrote in a social media post on Dec. 25 that his suspension in Nevada stemmed from “betting on UFC just like half the roster does.”

Minner told ESPN earlier this month that he has not been contacted by the FBI. Asked whether anything improper happened before the Nov. 5 fight, Minner said, “Absolutely not. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

He told ESPN he had a minor knee injury before the fight that he injured further during the bout. A doctor later determined that he tore ligaments around his knee, Minner said.

Krause and Molina have not responded to ESPN’s request for comment on the situation.

Krause, a retired fighter once considered one of the top rising MMA coaches in the world, had a subscription service featuring his betting tips called the 1% Club on the social media platform Discord, as well as a betting podcast. Both have been taken down since the launch of investigations. Krause told the MMA Hour podcast in August that he bet on UFC bouts, “every single card, just about every fight,” including some involving fighters he trains.

ESPN reported on Thursday that Krause, 36, was also acting as an agent for offshore sportsbook ABCBetting.ag. U.S. residents who have worked as agents for offshore sportsbooks have been charged with crimes such as tax evasion, operating an illegal sports betting organization and money laundering.

Molina, 25, is one of the top prospects in the UFC flyweight division with 10 straight wins, including his first three in the UFC. ESPN ranked Molina No. 9 on its 2021 list of the top 25 fighters under 25 years old.

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