“You’re going to get me crucified…” Despite Dana White’s U-turn on flag bans, fighter reveals Albanian flag was pulled moments before walkout

145-pound Dennis Buzukja's aim to walkout with Albanian national flag received a disappointing news just before the walkout.


“You’re going to get me crucified…” Despite Dana White’s U-turn on flag bans, fighter reveals Albanian flag was pulled moments before walkout

Dennis Buzukja defeated Connor Matthews this weekend (Source: Instagram)

The third time was really a charm for Dennis Buzukja. After fumbling twice, his first win in the promotion was a memorable one. He went up against Connor Matthews on the UFC Atlantic City card and came out victorious. However, the night did not have a memorable beginning for Buzukja.

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Showcasing one’s national flag remains a crucial part of sports. For fighters, walking out with national flags remains a big aspect of walkouts. Colby Covington does it, Belal Muhammad has done it, and so does Ilia Topuria. After a brief ban, flags were later unbanned. But not for Dennis Buzukja. After defeating Connor Matthews, he expressed disappointment with the UFC not allowing him to walk with the Albanian flag.

I love the people of Albania... Small country, but we make big noise around the world...[In Albanian MMA] I'm the next generation...it's crazy, right...just before I was to walk out, they came and told me I can't walk out with my flag, because it had gold trim on it...and I was like, 'Man, you're going to get me crucified by the Albanian people'..
Dennis Buzukja at the UFC Atlantic City post-fight presser

UFC’s regulations made it strict to sport any kind of flag in a celebration. One can get outraged that the Albanian fighter faced an unfortunate scenario. However, as it turns out, Dennis Buzukja’s flag had gold trimmings that could not be an accessory en route to a fight. Hence, there exists no bans on the Albanian national flag.

Matthews (7-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered the first stoppage loss with a knockout defeat at the hands of Buzukja. This feat and the Albanian fighter’s first win were reason enough to celebrate. Moreover, Buzukja has deep-seated reverence for Albania, aspiring to be the next-gen face of Albanian MMA. However, he stuck to his professionalism and performed spectacularly nonetheless after the flag debacle.

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Dennis Buzukja overcame flag disappointment to bag knockout win

UFC on ESPN 54 wasn’t spectacularly awe-binding, but the fight card matched an all-time TKO record in promotional history. The eight stoppage results by TKO or knockout tied with eight others in UFC history. Surprisingly, the main event did not live up to expectations.

Dennis Buzukja
Dennis Buzukja (Source: Instagram, @dennisbuzukja)

A head-scratcher was that Dennis Buzukja couldn’t walk out with his flag. The fighter, who faced Connor Matthews, had flaunted his flag colors on all his merch all week. Just before the walkout, he faced disappointment when the officials denied him to carry the Albanian national flag. He was already coming off from back-to-back skids. A disappointment would have demotivated most people but not Buzukja.

Buzukja and Matthews had a back-and-forth war. In the first two rounds, Buzukja had more volume but Matthews had the better striking accuracy. Entering the last round, Buzukja connected with a giant left and consequent pounding to defeat Matthews. A night of disappointment suddenly became a night to revel for the Albanian fighter.

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