The Fight Nights Global 73 main event in Russia between Diego Brandao and Akhmed Aliev had one of the strangest endings in mixed martial arts. Brandao lost by TKO after jumping out of the cage in the second round after both opponents threw illegal strikes.
Brandao spoke with MMA Fighting about the controversial contest with Aliev and explained what happened in the fight.
“He headbutt me and the referee told him to stop, and he throws three punches at me? What if that punch knocks me out?” Brandao said. “I did a hip escape and threw an upkick at him. I wanted to catch him, but hit his neck. That was a mistake I made, but I wanted to protect myself too. And he eventually came out with the victory.”
There was also some controversy in the moment leading up to the illegal headbutt where it looked as if Brandao may have been trying to bite Aliev’s ear. However, the TUF season 14 winner explained that was not the case.
“That’s what (Aliev) says,” he said. “I was going for the armbar and started to talk trash at him, saying I’d catch him, and he started to yell that I was biting his ear, that I removed the mouthpiece to bit him. Bullsh*t. The mouthpiece never left my mouth. That’s his excuse for headbutting me.”
With the strange ending, Brandao ended up with a loss on his record and is trying to get a rematch with Aliev that will end more decisively.
“I don’t regret anything,” Brandao stated. “My family and team are by my side. It’s tough to please everyone. I apologize to my fans in Brazil, United States and Dagestan, those who paid to watch the fight. I already asked for a rematch, I want to prove I’m better than him. Akhmet Aliev knows I’m better than him.”
“Everything was going the way I planned,” he added. “That was my strategy. I almost pulled a Nick Diaz and lay on the ground to see what he would do. But they are throwing bottles at me? I’m out of here.”
With the crowd throwing rubbish into the cage, Brandao made the choice to jump out of the cage where people from the crowd continued to throw objects at him and his team as they made their way backstage.
“Leaving the arena was scary,” Brandao said. “My corners were hit with bottles, and that pissed me off. I wanted to catch the guy that threw it, but they convinced me to return to the cage to restart the fight, but no one could control the crowd. They hit a judge with a bottle, too. It’s crazy over there. Imagine if I knocked Aliev out? They would kill me.”
While fighting in hostile enemy territory, Brandao said he had to be protected all week.
“Russians don’t play around,” he said. “They said they would rip my head off and things like that, and when I responded they got mad at me. I had 20 bodyguards and three armored cars protecting me all week. It was intense.”
The UFC veteran said he is making six figures per fight with Fight Nights Global and wants to continue fighting for them. However, the promotion just needs to pick a safer place for him to fight. With his contract with the promotion now up, Professional Fighters League has offered Brandao a contract but hopes things can be arranged to continue fighting with Fight Nights Global.
“I’ll never make this kind of money in the UFC,” said Brandao, who still has plans of eventually returning to the UFC. “I can’t stop now because of these people. Fight Nights only has to pick a better place for me to fight. I apologize to the fans who wanted to see a fight, but I couldn’t continue. It was crazy. It might look kind of funny in the video, me jumping the cage. Some people laugh at it, others say it’s insane, but I know what I was doing. I’m not happy with the result either.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/7/2017.