UFC is not really outspoken about it’s policies and as a result the news frequently leak when athletes mention random details in interviews. This means there’s often a good amount of misinformation going about.
Chito Vera inadvertently revealed he would not be allowed to carry the Ecuadorian flag during his walk out for main event against Rob Font.
While White wouldn’t explicitly say why the ban went into effect fans freely speculated on twitter. One fan noted:
“if I had to guess why, it’s because somebody didn’t like Belal Muhammad walking out with the Palestinian flag a few weeks ago which pisses me off even more”
Previously UFC refused to let Muhammad speak after defeating Demian Maia and had instead cut to commercial robbing both him of the interview and Maia of a chance to retire in the cage.
Why can’t UFC fighters walk out with flags?
But this time it might actually be about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. UFC has been featuring Russian athletes left and right. There were even several main events featuring Russians.
Petr Yan confirmed the flag ban went into effect prior to UFC 273 – due to the fact he uses the flag in his walk outs.
“Before our tournament it already wasn’t allowed to go out with flags,” said Yan, according to Match TV.
“Although no one said they forbid it. If you remember the previous tournaments, there were situations when people in the crowd whistled.”
“We did it so as not to provoke people or the public. Everyone knows where I’m from. We just avoided a provocative moment.”
This is especially interesting because Sterling was actually carrying a Jamaican flag while Dana White was putting the belt on him.
Prior to the event Sterling’s team had posed with the Ukrainian flag.
Sterling posted a picture of himself and teammates posing behind a Ukraine flag, with the caption: “My team and I support Ukraine”. Yan wasn’t impressed with this, telling The MMA Hour: “Looking at his statements before, trying to make it political, using the flags, smiling, standing with the Ukrainian flag.
“He tried to make it political. Yeah, I thought he didn’t want me to be over here in the United States. Now that I’m here, he knows that it’s over for him.”