The Ukrainian fighter made his UFC debut by knocking out MMA legend Mauricio Rua in his farewell fight, and celebrated his success with a dance. A real scandal erupted in the MMA community, as the Ukrainian was criticized for disrespecting the Brazilian veteran. In this piece, we will tell you who Ihor Potieria is and what he did at the UFC 283 tournament.
How Potieria entered the UFC
The Ukrainian fighters in the UFC are rare and very few newcomers managed to make a strong statement for themselves. For example, scandalous Askar Mozharov was dismissed already after his first fight, where he was destroyed by Alonzo Menifield in a couple of minutes. Mozharov was noted not only for his poor performance, but also for a faked record and a failed doping test.
The 26-year-old Potieria made his MMA debut in early 2015 and has worked his way up through the WWFC's largest local league from Selection tournament series to top status.
WWFC promotion is known for paving the way to the octagon for Moldovan Sergey Spivak - one of the best heavyweights of the former Soviet Union, who will soon face Derrick Lewis in the biggest fight of his career. Potieria from 2017 to 2021 had a 14-fight winning streak in WWFC and other Ukrainian promotions, but there were no big-name fighters among his opponents. Nevertheless, he managed to impress the public at the Dana White Contender Series tournament, where he knocked out undefeated Pole Łukasz Sudolski in the first round and signed a contract with the promotion.
The Ukrainian made his UFC debut last fall. Before the fight with Romanian Nicolae Negumereanu, Potieria justified his nickname "The Duelist" and created a lot of hype, comparing his opponent with Dracula and himself with Van Helsing who would destroy "the little vampire". The loud words weren't followed by actions and Ihor was knocked out already in the first five minutes.
Potieria's dance at UFC 283
In spite of an unsuccessful debut, the UFC made a great present to the Ukrainian. At the tournament in Rio de Janeiro, he had the honor of seeing off the great "Shogun" Mauricio Rua, who had won the PRIDE Grand Prix and had become UFC champion back in his day. By the age of 41, one of the best light-heavyweights in history had become a wreck. Unlike the tough Teixeira with a rocky jaw, Mauricio, worn out in tough fights, had no speed, no punching power, and thus he gave "The Duelist" the opportunity to increase his popularity by using his name. And Ihor did.
Midway through the first round, Potieria landed a hard punch on his opponent and then wouldn't let go until the referee stopped him, landing several hard punches in the standup and then adding some more on the ground. After the fight, instead of showing respect to his opponent and thanking him for his long service to the sport, Potieria turned his back to the Brazilian and began to dance, which angered not only thousands of Brazilian fans, but also his colleagues from other countries.
Fighters' reaction to Potieria's dance
Canadian heavyweight Tanner Boser, who once fought in the UFC as well as in the Russian ASV league, spoke harshest of all.
You have no right to do such a stupid dance when you beat such a legend in his farewell fight. You're just a dumb sack.
Top UFC light heavyweight fighter Belal Muhammad admitted that he started to hate Potieria after this celebration.
Naturally, the journalists also had some questions for Potieria. One of them was voiced by the hosts of the MMA Fighting Channel, but when answering their question, Potieria kept showing off and his arguments looked very awkward.
Bet on MMA with Coinplay
My nickname is 'The Duelist,' and it was a duel. I drew my gun, but I didn't shoot [at Rua]. I shot in the air because I respect my opponent.
Now the Ukrainian and his management will have to think about his behavior in the future. In the fighting world, it's not always hype and an ostensible lack of respect for your opponent that pays dividends. There are times when it can work against you, so the fighter has to learn to feel the atmosphere, to know the measure, to understand the mood of the crowd, instead of just doing crazy things. So far, Ihor failed to use this great chance to make a name for himself.