According to a report from The Korea Herald, former UFC lightweight Tae Hyun Bang has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for a fight-fixing scheme that took place at UFC Fight Night 79 in November 2015.
“The crime of match fixing damages the credibility of sport, and in international matches, it has a bad effect on the country’s credibility as well,” according to the report. “Bang had an obligation to play the game fairly, but he ignored it and took an important role in the scheme. But we did take into consideration that Bang won the bout and returned the money afterwards.”
Bang (18-10) received around $87,950 USD (100 million in Korean dollars) from “brokers” who set up the fix in his matchup against Leo Kuntz. Bang allegedly bet about half of that on his opponent, agreeing to drop the first two rounds of the bout. However after a warning from the UFC, the Koreon fighter apparently changed his mind about the fix and went out to fight, earning a split decision victory.
The 34-year-old was initially a small favorite, however the betting line spiked in the other direction. There were reports of up to 1.7 million in bets from South Korean organized crime figures, which led to Bang receiving threats after he took the win. He reportedly returned the money he was offered in the first place.
MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas remembers the situation very well.
“It just smelled funny. A foreign group called into the sportsbooks and they were trying to get an absurd amount of money down, trying to override limits big time. It was pretty obvious something was going on. Offshore sportsbooks were literally receiving phone calls from foreign gamblers asking to override standard betting limits on that particular fight, a preliminary card fight. That almost never happens. With all the money coming in and all the phone calls I was receiving about it, there were red flags flying up everywhere in the days leading up to the fight. There were also reports of foreign groups putting down heavy action in Vegas.
We weren’t sure what happened when Bang actually won the fight, but it makes a lot of sense that Bang was talked to by the UFC about what was happening behind the scenes because he fought like he was supposed to fight and actually won. He was originally opened as the betting favorite and had flipped to a huge underdog for seemingly no reason.
In my 14-plus years of working with sportsbooks, I’ve never seen anything like that in a UFC fight during the Zuffa era.”
Bang went 2-3 in the UFC and was officially released last month. He earned wins over Kuntz and Kajan Johnson, while losing three fights to Mairbek Taisumov, Jon Tuck and Nick Hein. He hasn’t competed since September 2016.