Chinese UFC fighter has flag ‘ripped away’ after win (VIDEO)


Li Jingliang fell foul of the UFC’s new rule on displaying flags in the cage

Chinese UFC star Li Jingliang became the first high-profile fighter to fall foul of the organization’s new rules about displaying flags in the Octagon following his knockout win against Russian fighter Muslim Salikhov during last Saturday’s fight card in New York.

The world’s premier mixed martial arts fight league recently announced that fighters would now be forbidden from displaying their country’s flag in the cage at any point during, after or before a fight; a rule imposed by Dana White apparently to avoid Russian fighters from flying their national flag in the Octagon.

This was, as White hinted, designed to prevent a public relations headache in the wake of the various sanctions placed upon Russian and Belarusian athletes since the beginning of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

You guys know why,” White said in May, when asked for the impetus behind the rule change.

Let’s not even play that f**king game.”

And judging by the apparent actions of cageside officials, this is a zero-tolerance policy.

Fan-shot footage following Jingliang’s spectacular win last weekend showed the Chinese initially celebrating with his flag, before it was quickly removed from him.

It remains unclear if he and his team were aware of the rules, or if they smuggled the flag to the Octagon without the knowledge of UFC officials.

The new policy seems, on the surface at least, to be an affront to prior statements made by White in which he said that the UFC is “more about free speech” than any comparable sports league.

One of the things that we’ve never done here at the UFC is stop people from expressing how they feel about certain things inside or outside the Octagon,” White said in 2020.

Even if it’s me, if it’s about me. Who’s more about free speech than we are? We literally let our people do or say whatever it is they do. It’s normal.”

The new flag policy appears to stand in contrast to these statements – but it remains to be seen if some wiggle room will be accommodated for certain fighters on the roster.

Not permitting lower-card fighters to fly their flag is one thing; but will Conor McGregor entertain the idea of not being allowed to display the Irish flag in his future fights?

Time will tell on that one.

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