Former UFC lightweight Tae Hyun Bang has been sentenced to a 10-month prison term after being found guilty of taking bribes in connection with a plan to throw a fight.
Bang (18-10 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was sentenced today in the Seoul Central District Court in South Korea, according to a report from The Korea Herald, for taking bribes to throw his bout with Leo Kuntz at UFC Fight Night 79.
“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,” the court said, according to The Korea Herald. “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, 34, took money from the brokers before his fight against Kuntz in November 2015 at the UFC’s debut in South Korea. He reportedly took the bribe, then bet roughly half of it on Kuntz. The plan was to lose the first two rounds to his American opponent. But when UFC officials noticed a big swing in the betting lines, taking Bang from the favorite to a heavy underdog, he and Kuntz were warned about the consequences of fixing fights.
At some point, he changed his mind about throwing the fight – and went on to win a split decision at Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul.
“The UFC seemed like they knew something was definitely not right,” Kuntz told MMAjunkie in April after the investigation was announced. “They told me it was the largest odd swing they’d seen in MMA and last minute. They told me, ‘Hey, if either one of you guys goes out there and doesn’t fight, you should prepare to be investigated.'”
After the fight, Bang reportedly received death threats from organized crime figures, who had bet roughly $1.7 million on Kuntz to win. According to a person close to the fighter at the time of the UFC’s warning, Bang and his camp denied knowledge of any of fight-fixing.
After his win over Kuntz, Bang fought for the promotion once more in September 2016 and lost a unanimous decision to Nick Hein at UFC Fight Night 93 in Germany. He has not fought since then and reportedly no longer is with the promotion – though oddly enough, he still is listed as a fighter on the roster in the UFC’s official database at UFC.com.
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