An Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) official reportedly snatched a Chinese flag that was draped over Li Jingliang’s shoulder as he was celebrating his TKO win over Russian fighter Muslim Salikhov last weekend.
Li, also known as “The Leech,” was parading around the Octagon after defeating Salikhov with a second-round TKO in UFC Long Island on Saturday when a UFC employee was suddenly spotted approaching the 34-year-old MMA fighter and ripping away his country’s flag.
The Chinese fighter’s efforts to reclaim his country’s flag failed, sparking outrage on Twitter, with one user pointing out the inconsistency of the new UFC policy.
“It’s a dumb policy when they are putting the fighter’s flag next to their names during fight walkouts and introductions,” the Twitter user wrote.
“Stupid rule for no flags,” another user commented. “Just because he’s from China doesn’t mean he agrees with their government, political decisions etc. Let the man represent his upbringing and homeland where he made it out of, in order to become an MMA star in the biggest organization in the world.”
“He basically owns all the Sanda awards, especially the 2008 Sanda exhibition fight,” Li continued. “So the media has been broadcasting our fight in China because it’s very big in China, me vs. Muslim.”
It is unclear why the UFC banned its fighters from parading their flags after their matches in May. In a UFC 274 post-match press conference, UFC President Dana White briefly responded to reporters regarding the policy, stating: “You guys know why. Let’s not even play that f*cking game.”
Li’s recent win came months after a disappointing loss to Swedish fighter Khamzat Chimaev in October 2021. Before his victory against Salikhov, Li was ranked No. 14 in the official UFC welterweight rankings. Saturday’s performance could reportedly help Li bounce back from his last defeat.