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Sahil Siraj speaks out on controversy: “No excuses – prove you’re a real man!”



This past weekend Swedish striking sensation Sahil “The Knockout Prince” Siraj was set to make his debut in Oktagon – right in the Tipsport Game Changer tournament! Facing off against British prospect Akonne “The Jedi” Wanliss in the lightweight tournament, the match up brought some unexpected heat with it.

Siraj and Wanliss ran into each other at the airport, at which point the Brit immediately began spouting profanities towards his opponent and coach Reza Madadi. For Siraj this was shockingly out of character, or so he thought, as he had previously had amicable contact with Wanliss. The two had spoken on the phone just days earlier, with mutual respect taking the spot of the animosity that would follow.

“A few days before the fight I spoke with his manager who handed him the phone later, Siraj tells “Akonne was normal, we talked about putting on a good fight for the fans. Then at the airport, we didn’t even realise that he had a microphone and camera and I couldn’t hear the disrespectful things he was saying. As you see I went to shake his hand, I didn’t hear what he was saying at first, but then Reza and I heard what he was saying. Reza got angry because of this, but we cooled the situation.”

Wanliss behaviors rubbed Siraj the wrong way, as he felt cheated into a false sense of sportsmanship but was greeted with disrespect.

“I couldn’t believe it, he was nice and normal when we talked on the phone and then when we saw him at the airport he was fake, aggressive, disrespectful and hostile. What kind of behavior is that? I’m a professional, I show up, make weight, fight, collect my cash and go. I understand that he has a persona, but this was just foolish. Why would he act like that? And it never stopped!”

Read more: Banned UFC vet Reza ‘Mad Dog’ breaks silence: Fires back at OKTAGON and Akonne Wanliss

“As your opponent you can say what you want to me”

The disdain Wanliss seemed to have for Siraj would only continue during fight week.

Things would come to a boiling point at the press conference, where Wanliss would continue to berate Siraj and his team. Following the press conference Siraj would return to his hotel room, not knowing about the chaos that followed.

“Then at the press conference Akonne was being so cocky, disgusting and disrespectful, saying he was going to beat up my coach and things like that afterwards. He was being aggressive towards us the whole time. Look, I get it, as your opponent you can say what you want to me, but don’t bring in family, friends, trainers, people outside of it, that’s unnecessary, disrespectful and over the line. Reza is his own man, he’s a veteran with a lot of emotion, he was very angry about what Akonne was saying to us these days. I don’t make his decisions, he’s his own man, so he went to Akonne after the press conference to see if he would back up his words. Reza maybe shouldn’t have done what he did, but he barely hurt him. Akonne didn’t have a scratch on him, no injury, no blood, nothing, it wasn’t bad at all.”

Siraj then received a phone call from Oktagon officials informing him about the situation. Of course Siraj was shocked, but based on how he was informed he still expected the fight to go through and agreed to every demand given to him, so long as the fight would still come through.

Despite Siraj being willing to accept every condition, the fight still fell through in the end.

“Later, we spoke with Oktagon. I was told that Akonne wasn’t injured but that he wanted half my purse and to not have my coaches in my corner to fight me, I agreed. Then the day after, I’m still waiting for confirmation, I’m here to fight, I don’t care about anything else. Then they told me the doctors say Akonne is ok but he feels like he can’t fight. He wasn’t injured, he didn’t have a scratch on him and I said I’d give him half my purse to take the fight. But still he said he can’t fight and everything was cancelled. I couldn’t believe it, he didn’t want to fight anymore becasue he didn’t feel 100% mentally.”

Read more: Official results from OKTAGON 54 in Czech Republic!

Sahil Siraj to Akonne Wanliss: “Can you fight or is it just drama?”

As a result of the scuffle between Madadi and Wanliss the fight was moved to Oktagon 56 in Birmingham, England on April 20th. On top of that Madadi was received a lifetime ban from Oktagon, and wont be able to coach Siraj.

Siraj remains understanding of both Oktagons and Madadis handling of things. While he wishes to have Madadi by his side he still tries seeing things from the bright side.

“Reza felt so bad, he was so sorry, he felt worse than I did! In the end, if it was not meant to be then it was not meant to be, everything happens for a reason. I’m not mad at Reza, I’m mad at Akonne for pushing us into this situation. He could have been a professional, but no, he decided to be fake and disrespectful. If the fight didn’t happen then it wasn’t meant to happen then, as we see the fight got rebooked.”

The fight between Siraj and Wanliss being cancelled is undoubtedly unfortunate, but it now sets the stage for an even bigger bout than before. The stakes are higher, there are more eyes on the fight and there will be a bigger buildup to the bout.

For Siraj, however, all those aspects are secondary and hardly vital at all. He’s always been a fighter first and foremost, not interested in the glitz, glam and occasional drama that the scene brings with it.

No matter how the buildup unfolds all Siraj wants is for Wanliss to back up his behavior where it all counts in the end.

“Now it’s time to prove, can you fight or is it just drama? I really hope he’s a hundred percent mentally this time. It’s time for him to prove he’s a real fighter, no excuses now, let’s bring the fight for real! Leave the fake drama, prove you’re a real man, a real fighter, prove it inside the cage!”

Read more: Furious Ryan Garcia demands to fight Jake Paul: “Call my team – f*** you!”

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