Las Vegas, NV — 21-year old South African newcomer Cameron Saiiman kicked off the UFC 282 card on Saturday, throwing down with another debuting bantamweight, the short-notice replacement Steven Koslow.
It nearly ended in disaster.
Saiiman (7-0), a winner on Dana White’s Contender Series this year, landed a blatantly illegal knee in the second round that severely hurt Koslow. There were questions regarding whether Koslow would, or could, continue; had the fight stopped, it would have likely ended in a disqualification, with Koslow getting the win.
Cameron Saiiman addressed the blow following the event, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press, and made clear that the foul was unintentional.
“Yeah. I felt his head push up, so I thought if he’s pushing up, he’s probably back into the clinch position. I really apologize for that, that was super unfortunate,” said Saiiman. “Obviously not intentional. Yeah, sorry.”
The thought of the fight ending in a DQ was a concern while the minutes ticked away and Koslow recovered. “That was definitely crossing my mind. but luckily my coach and my teammate, they were in the corner, just telling me to focus on your breathing, focus on, if the fight continues, you need to be ready to go out there and finish it.”
One thing Saiiman was not aware of, however, was that Koslow’s corner had attempted to throw in the towel in the third round. That’s something that was highlighted on the UFC 282 broadcast, which suggested the corner had thrown the towel in only for it to hit the fence and go unnoticed by officials.
“That’s news to me. I would love to re-watch the fight. Honestly I think I’m super hard on myself, especially after the first round. I felt like it was quite even, I do not know what the scorecards were reading at that stage,” said Saiiman. “But the third round was definitely the one where I felt like okay, we need to go out there, and luckily we could do that.”
Despite a few dicey moments in the fight — Saiiman admitted that he may have underestimated Koslow’s grappling — his debut experience was a positive one.
“Traveling from South Africa is a tall task. Acclimatizing, all that. So it’s been really awesome, Fight Week was absolutely amazing,” he stated. “It’s my second time in Vegas, this experience is much different from the Contender Series. So it was really cool, the fans are super-welcoming, and it’s awesome.”
Watch the full UFC 282 post-fight media appearance by Cameron Saiiman above.