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Sports Illustrated Notebook: Ontario enforces ban on UFC betting as suspicion grows

Why does the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario have concerns? Plus, Kevin Holland previews Saturday's headliner vs. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson.
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News broke Thursday that Ontario sportsbooks have banned betting on the UFC due to security concerns.

This story has the potential to snowball. It is a serious topic – one that all parties involved are taking seriously.

The decision to ban the UFC in Ontario sportsbooks came from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. A release from the AGCO stated: "UFC does not prohibit all insiders from betting on UFC's events, which could include an athlete's coach, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals or other persons with access to non-public information."

The issues at hand, per the AGCO, revolve around betting by insiders and suspicious betting patterns. A fight in question is the Darrick Minner-Shayilan Nuerdanbieke bout from the UFC Fight Night card in Las Vegas on Nov. 5. There was a significant jump in betting interest in the hours leading up to the fight on Nuerdanbieke to win by knockout in the first round. Just 67 seconds into the fight, Nuerdanbieke won by TKO. Miner now faces disciplinary action from the Nevada State Athletic Association for failing to disclose an injury on his pre-fight medical form.

A key figure involved in that situation is James Krause, who was Minner's coach when he fought Nuerdanbieke. A former UFC fighter, Krause made headlines on Nov. 19 when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Entertainment informed the state's sportsbook that it would no longer be allowed to offer bets on any fight in which Krause was involved in any capacity – as a coach, trainer, promoter, or fighter.

Earlier this summer during an appearance on "The MMA Hour," Krause discussed how he actively bets on UFC fights, as well as dispenses gambling advice. That is a problem, and Krause has obviously drawn too much attention, causing the sport to fall into this current quagmire. As an active coach, Krause has no business publicly giving betting picks, especially as it pertains to his own fighters.

Coaches, managers, and team members should not be betting. While it can be hard to monitor, it is imperative for the sport to make sure this situation is resolved before growing out of hand.

Kevin Holland discusses brief retirement

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Kevin Holland headlines Saturday's UFC on ESPN 42 fight card, meeting Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson in a welterweight bout.

This is Holland's first fight since losing to Khamzat Chimaev in September, which prompted him to briefly retire from the sport.

"I wanted to step away because I wanted to step away," says Holland. "That's between me and the promotion. But I'm not here to talk about retirement. I'm here to fight 'Wonderboy.' You should definitely watch because I'm going to knock 'Wonderboy' the f-ck out."

Holland (23-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC) can rewrite his future with a convincing win against Thompson, who is ranked sixth in the welterweight division. Thompson (16-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) is only three months shy from turning 40, and has dropped his last two fights – with the most recent coming a year ago in a one-sided unanimous defeat against Belal Muhammad. Holland will instantly seize a top spot in the rankings if he defeats Thompson.

"We got plenty of names lined up after this one," says Holland. "If none of those guys want to do it, then it's time to sit at home smoking kush, playing video games, and be retired once again."

Holland needs to make a statement against Thompson, and that is exactly what he is planning on doing tomorrow.

"I'm going to blow the top of the f-cking building," says Holland. "With 'Wonderboy,' he's one hell of a man. But we need that referee in the ring to stop me from hurting him."

How will Kayla Harrison's first loss affect her future?

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Kayla Harrison suffered her first loss in MMA, losing to Larissa Pacheco in her PFL championship bout last Friday.

The loss is by no means a career killer, but it certainly stings. Harrison (15-1) remains a top star for the PFL, though a large part of the intrigue surrounding her was the undefeated streak. That was broken by Pacheco (19-4), a relatively unknown fighter.

Ultimately, the defeat won't be too damaging if Harrison strings together impressive wins against established opponents. Undefeated or not, that remains the objective. If Harrison beats Cris Cyborg, then that will quickly remove any damage caused by the loss to Pacheco. Unfortunately, the fight against Cyborg feels like it is destined never to happen – but that is the caliber of opponent needed to elevate Harrison.

For Harrison, another fight against Pacheco is a bad idea. Harrison would likely win – she is the more complete mixed martial artist – but there are no guarantees in a fight. Plus, Harrison has already defeated Pacheco two different times. It is time to move forward with the Cyborg fight, and a win in that bout is the best possible way for Harrison to move her career forward.

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.