South Korean mixed martial arts fighter Bang Tae-hyun was sentenced to 10 months in prison by a local court Friday for his involvement in a match fixing scam.
The Seoul Central District Court said Bang was found guilty of taking a bribe of 100 million won ($92,160) from match-fixing brokers in exchange for throwing a bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship event in South Korea in 2015. Three brokers who handed money to Bang also received jail terms for their misdeed.
"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. "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."
In this file photo taken Nov. 28, 2015, South Korean mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Bang Tae-hyun (R) competes with Leo Kuntz of the United States during their lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night 79 at Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul. (Yonhap)
According to the investigative authorities, Bang agreed to lose the first two rounds against Leo Kuntz at UFC Fight Night 79 in Seoul on Nov. 28, 2015. The scam, however, didn't succeed, as the lightweight fighter apparently changed his mind at the last moment and went on to beat Kuntz in a split decision.
Bang reportedly decided not to throw the match after UFC officials warned him about fight fixing following a sudden shift in betting patterns on gambling websites. The 34-year-old was first listed as the slight favorite against Kuntz, but just hours before the fight, UFC officials caught drastic changes in odds that made him the underdog and his American opponent the overwhelming favorite.
Bang is no longer with the UFC, the world's largest MMA promotion. After the UFC event in Seoul, Bang fought once more in Germany last year at UFC Fight Night 93, where he lost to Nick Hein by unanimous decision.
Bang became the seventh South Korean to enter the Octagon after he signed with the UFC in late 2013. He posted two wins and three losses with the US-based MMA promotion. (Yonhap)