MMA star who got headbutted by opponent’s coach doesn’t want him banned

In mixed martial arts, even the slightest altercation can escalate into headline-grabbing drama. Such was the case for Akonne Wanliss, whose scheduled bout against Sahil Siraj at Oktagon 54 took an unexpected turn less than 24 hours before the event. The clash between the two contenders was anticipated, but no one could have predicted the chaos that ensued.

Both Wanliss and Siraj had successfully made weight, signaling their readiness for the impending showdown. But a tense atmosphere loomed as the competitors engaged in a face-off in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The encounter was fraught with tension and ended up turning violent.

Moments after the press conference concluded, chaos erupted as two members of Siraj’s coaching team launched an assault on Wanliss. Former UFC competitor Reza Madadi was one of the assailants and physically confronted Wanliss by headbutting him.

This resulted in a match being rescheduled for Oktagon 56 on April 20 in Birmingham, his hometown.

In an exclusive interview, Akonne Wanliss shed light on the events leading up to the altercation and his outlook moving forward. He told dailystar: “Obviously getting attacked by the other corner [team], it’s not my fault. And the severity of what I was saying [to Siraj in their face-off], it wasn’t offending anyone’s family, or saying I’m gonna kill their dog [laughs]!”

When questioned about the altercation, Wanliss emphasized that he bore no responsibility for the incident. He clarified that his remarks during the face-off were standard trash talk, devoid of personal attacks.

He continued: “I wasn’t being personal! I just said I’m gonna bounce a Jaffa Cake off his coach’s head, and I’m gonna knock out his boy in round one. If I haven’t missed anything, that’s just fighting talk.”

He then went on to say: “I feel like they were intimidated. They were stumbling over their words. .. especially his coach. The coach just lost his s*** and couldn’t keep it together. That’s where we’ve seen the craziness from him. And to gang up where you’ve got two, three man trying to beat me up literally 24 hours before a fight – it’s pretty crazy.”

When it comes to the bout in April at Resorts World Arena, he really hopes that Madadi and the other coach in issue are not banned.

“I don’t really care if you ban them. I actually want him to be there cageside when I knock out his boy and get to bounce a Jaffa Cake off his head! But I don’t think Oktagon will want a repeat of a Khabib and Conor situation. You might see me launching over the cage flying at the guy [laughs]! And that’s probably what they don’t want.”

The round-of-16 opponents are keen to continue competing for title, with a €1million (£850,000) prize up for grabs. Wanliss feels that justice has already been served since he gets to live out his goal of headlining a card in his home city of Birmingham. But it seems like he won’t be satisfied until he wins by stoppage and throws a sweet sponge at his opponent.