Las Vegas, NV — Cody Durden overcame plenty of obstacles ahead of his return to action at UFC Vegas 43. A torn ACL, a battle with COVID-19.
Despite the setbacks, there was not thought of pulling out of his fight with Qileng Aori. “Once I sign the line, I do what it takes at all costs to show up and show out,” Durden told media outlets including Cageside Press following the bout.
There were a few surprises in the fight, with Durden noting that “he surprised me with his durability and not giving me his back, man. I guess he watched a lot of film on me and knew that if I took his back, it was going to be a long night for him. Man, he wasn’t giving that back up for anything.”
While Durden picked up his first UFC win in the bout, what it will most likely be remembered for is his post-fight comments, where Durden mentioned sending his opponent “back to China.”
Those words didn’t sit well with many following the fight, with social media erupting with accusations of racism. At a time where Chinese citizens around the globe have faced increased levels of sometimes violent racial discrimination, Durden’s timing couldn’t have been worse.
Durden dismissed the criticism following the fight. “If they don’t like it, do something. Sign the contract. It doesn’t matter to me. I said what I said and it is what it is. 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 if he had intended the comments to be racist, Durden replied “No, it’s all good.”
Durden also called out a potential opponent post-fight, Jeff Molina. Who, as it happened, replied that he was game. With a potential match in place, Durden is hoping the fight can take place at next year’s UFC 270.
“I think it’s a good fight, I think he’s a great competitor. Let’s put on a show. We’re modern day gladiators, let’s fight in front of a big crowd,” Durden told Cageside Press. “That’s what I want to do. That was my third fight here at the Apex center, I haven’t got to feel the energy of the crowd. That’s what I want to do, I want to fight in front of thousands of people. That’s what I always dreamed about, ever since I wanted to be in the UFC, I wanted to fight in front of thousands. I think the next fight, it happens.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 43 post-fight press scrum with Cody Durden above. More coverage from the event can be found below.