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PFL Challenger Series flagged for suspicious betting activity

MMA Fighter Andre Harrison Photo Call Ahead of PFL1 At Madison Square Garden Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) may be in some hot water as its first Challenger Series wraps up before the 2022 regular season. ESPN reported today (Tues., April 5, 2022) that PFL has been flagged for suspicious betting activity. Bettors’ accounts were held under review after placing bets on the April 1, 2022, Challenger Series event, which the promotion claims took place one week before airing.

The Challenger Series events have all aired on FuboTV, which promoted the most recent event as “live at 9:00 PM EST.” Meanwhile, PFL tweeted on Friday: “Fighters are in the building for TONIGHT.” ESPN’s report claims, “Odds on the Challenger Series moved significantly in favor of each of the winning fighters Friday afternoon ahead of the broadcast.”

U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas-based company that monitors betting markets, revealed that the day after the event that an alert to sportsbooks was sent confirming with PFL that the fights were pre-taped on March 25, 2022.

“As such, it’s very possible that any potentially suspicious wagering activity is indicative of nefarious behavior,” U.S. Integrity wrote in the alert and recommended that sportsbooks that offered wagering on the event notify state regulators.

Several sportsbooks have now begun monitoring the situation with some books not settling bets on the event as things are reviewed. The Arizona Department of Gaming is removing PFL from its wagering catalog, the Colorado Division of Gaming is investigating, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board and New Hampshire Lottery admitted they’re aware of the situation. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement declined to comment.

Betting has never appeared to be any type of issue surrounding PFL in the past. Interestingly enough, however, last year, PFL Welterweight Rory MacDonald suffered an extremely controversial defeat to Gleison Tibau via split decision in Atlantic City, New Jersey (watch highlights). The community, as well as the commentary team immediately after the fight, widely considered the decision one of the worst in recent memory.

Ahead of the playoff season, MacDonald shared some of his own suspicions.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with the judges knowing what they were watching,” MacDonald told My MMA News in July 2021. “I think it had to do with gambling, maybe. Or some other issues. But yeah, judges should obviously be educated, know what they’re watching. Besides that, I think they should be held accountable for what they’re doing and maybe [have] a board or something that reviews decisions like that so that if people do a bad job, they lose their job, you know? So I think some accountability would be good.”

PFL spokesperson, Loren Mack, addressed the matter when asked on Monday (April 4, 2022). The Challenger Series broadcast in question was the first of the series that an initial airing was pre-recorded. No reason was given.

“Any sportsbooks that took bets on the pre-recorded program did so without the consent or knowledge of PFL,” Mack told ESPN. “PFL will further evaluate the matter.” According to a statement from PFL included in U.S. Integrity’s alert, the league, “entered confidentiality agreements with everyone involved.”

“PFL did not include any betting lines, content, or promotion in connection with the program,” Mack added.

“PFL Challenger Series is typically streamed live on Fubo Sports Network,” Jennifer Press, senior vice president of communications for FuboTV, told ESPN. “The Apr. 1 event was the lone exception and pre-taped. We inadvertently used the same promo copy for the Apr. 1 show as we did for previous shows, which was a mistake. We regret the error.”