While the UFC has been one of the few remaining sports leagues to keep their noses out of politics, their combatants are not afraid in the slightest to share all their personal beliefs.
This past Saturday evening, UFC 262 happened at the Toyota Center out in Houston, Texas. The main feature of this event was the title fight for the lightweight division between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. In a bit of a spoiler, Oliveira, after nearly being taken down by a brutal assault from chandler in the first round, took a KO Win at the start of the second round.
While this title fight really lived up to its hype, it was the comments by Beneil Dariush upon his victory that really took the spotlight.
After a dominating victory over Tony Ferguson in the co-main event, by scoring a unanimous decision from the judges, the winning fighter was interviewed by Joe Rogan himself to get his opinion on the win. Dariush took this moment to hop up on his box and speak out in support of the victims of communism around the world.
“First things first, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that’s number one,” Dariush stated to Rogan, along with the millions of people watching the event. “Number two, I want to dedicate this fight to all the people who’ve been hurt by Marxist ideologies. There are millions of you.”
“It’s just a fight, I know it’s not much, but I want you to know that I love you. I understand the pain … I don’t completely understand, but I love you. I understand your pain.”
Darius, who legally gained U.S. citizenship, was born in Iran in a small village and lived there until the age of nine before immigrating to the United States. According to interviews, he has not been back to his native country since the age of 17 due to his concerns about mandatory military service laws for all males over the age of 18.
He is known as a devout Christian and routinely discusses his faith all across his social media.
This is the second time in the last two UFC events where an athlete took the stage as an opportunity to speak out on the evils of communism. the first, Rose Namajunas, of Lithuanian-American heritage, created waves across social media before her April 24th win over the Chinese champion Zhang Weili. Namajunas stated that part of her motivation for beating Zhang was her opposition to communism.
ESPN reported before the fight:
Namajunas’ family is from Lithuania, and she said she has drawn inspiration from the documentary, “The Other Dream Team.” The film focuses on the 1992 Lithuanian men’s national basketball team, which entered the Barcelona Olympics as an independent country after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Namajunas recently told a Lithuanian outlet that the movie is a reminder that “it’s better dead than red,” an anti-communist expression coined during the Cold War. She also said Zhang is “red” and that freedom is a “huge motivating factor” for why she fights.
“I have a lot to fight for in this fight,” Namajunas stated. “And what [Weili] represents, you know, I was just, I was just trying to remind myself of all the — my background and everywhere that I come from and my family and everything like that.”
“If you’re confused about any of my opinions, you can watch the documentary and you could get a good idea as to what my family had to go through, the reason I’m in the United States today, the reason that I do mixed martial arts, all of that stuff,” Namajunas stated to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “I’d probably have a really different life if it wasn’t for everything in that documentary, how Lithuanians had to struggle with communism oppression.”
Namajunas stated later that she holds no personal beef with Zhang.
The UFC itself has, quite famously, stated far away from politics as there has been a string of other sports leagues rushing to embrace it.
“It’s like we live in this world right now where nobody’s allowed to have their own opinion,” President of the UFC Dana White stated in an interview on The Daily Wire’s “Candace.” “These are all grown men and women that fight for us. They all have their own beliefs, their own politics or whatever it is. They can say whatever they want to say, to a point. I mean, there’s some times that some things cross the line, but at the end of the day, too, this is the fight business. Guess what? They say really mean things to each other.”