As sports betting becomes legal in more states, the UFC is making a significant change to its athlete conduct policy.
“In light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the United States, we are compelled at this time to recognize in the UFC Athlete Conduct Policy certain restrictions relating to wagering by our athletes, members of their teams and certain others,” the company said in a memo, per UFC insider Ariel Helwani.
Even if fighters or managers are not involved in a match or card, they are still prohibited to place a wager. However, they can still be sponsored by a gambling company.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley comes to mind on this ban on betting. The 27-year-old was suspended the entire 2022-23 season for betting on NFL games in the previous season, including on his own team. Ridley also had to forfeit his $11.1 million base salary.
Other fans might think of Pete Rose, whose gambling on Major League Baseball games has literally kept him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for decades.
Of course, the irony of all this is the sponsorship element. The commercialization of gambling can be front and center, but athletes are not able to partake.
Opinions on whether or not athletes should bet on the sport they play in will vary. But the UFC has chosen to get out in front of the rising betting markets and make sure allegations of match fixing are nowhere to be found in the sport.