Cody Durden is standing by his post-fight speech at UFC Vegas 43, despite public criticism that saw his comments condemned as being sinophobic.
The flyweight fighter won a unanimous decision over China’s Aoriqileng on Saturday’s preliminary card, then mentioned in his post-fight interview that “I had to send him back to China where he came from.” An awkward pause followed on the broadcast and Durden was blasted on social media by several fighters, including Belal Muhammad, Casey O’Neill, Julian Marquez, and Jeff Molina, the latter of whom Durden called out following his win.
Durden was asked about the reaction at a post-fight media scrum and he did not apologize for his words.
“If they don’t like it, do something,” Durden said. “Sign the contract, it doesn’t matter to me. I said what I said and it is what it is. Yeah, emotions were high. It’s the fight business. He’s punching me in the face and I was punching him in the face. It’s his family or mine, and tonight my family eats.”
Asked specifically whether his comments had racial connotations, Durden denied the implication.
“No,” Durden said. “No, man, it’s all good.”
Durden admitted that there was some lingering animosity between himself and Aoriqileng following their faceoff on Friday. When Durden went to shake Aoriqileng’s hand, Aoriqileng continued to pose for photographers rather than acknowledge Durden.
Though it’s unclear if Aoriqileng’s snub was intentional, Durden saw it as such.
“Yeah, I took it personal,” Durden said. “He didn’t want to shake my hand, that’s fine. I didn’t want to touch gloves and that’s why he got kicked at the beginning of the fight. Business is business and we handled business like gentlemen in the cage.”
Durden later addressed the controversy on social media, mentioning the pre-fight handshake and adding, “I apologize if I offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention.”
Listen, the guy was disrespectful, and wouldn’t shake my hand at the weigh ins. After beating him, I simply meant he could go home wherever that may have been. I apologize if I offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention!! I love you all! See you at the top. @ufc— Cody Durden (@Cody_Durden) November 20, 2021
This is the second notable incident of perceived sinophobia in the past year for the UFC. Rose Namajunas was criticized ahead of her first fight with then-strawweight champion Zhang Weili in April when Namajunas said that she was motivated to defeat China’s Zhang because of “what she represents” to communism.
Watch Durden’s post-fight scrum below (courtesy of FanSided MMA).