In the lead up to UFC on ESPN the Saturday before last, Chito Vera revealed that the UFC has forbidden athletes to walk out with the flags.
Prior to this weekend a number of athletes would walk out with their flags. This proved problematic considering some were using the flag to make a political statement.
It’s especially problematic in the months following Russian invasion of Ukraine considering the number of Russian athletes on the UFC roster.
In an interview with the MMA journalist José Luiz Santacruz, Vera shared the news of the flag ban.
“No one is allowed to walk out with a flag,” Vera told the journalist. “I imagine that they did it because of what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine.””
Before the war, UFC has dealt with several controversies regarding athletes not being allowed to enter with their countries’ flags.
For instance, Ramona Pascual was prohibited from entering the octagon with the Hong Kong flag for her appearance on UFC Vegas 49. She was given the opportunity to enter the cage with the Chinese flag instead.
The UFC has a policy of only allowing “officially approved” flags. This means that any flag from a country that is not recognized as independent would not be allowed.
Before UFC 271, the Zimbabwean competitor “Blood Diamond” was denied the octagon the chance to carry the Zimbabwe flag.
Dana White confirmed the flag ban is there to stay during the UFC 274 press conference.
White was asked about the UFC flag ban. UFC 274 athlete Randy Brown also confirmed that he was told to not walk out with the flag which prompted the press to ask UFC president for a response.
White didn’t provide specifics just confirmed the ban was instituted with a simple ‘Yes’ and added ‘You know why.’
Later on he followed that up with ‘Let’s not even play that f—ing game.”