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'I don't really like a lot of the MMA fan base': UFC fighter Payton Talbott defends videos of him pole dancing
Photo by: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

'I don't really like a lot of the MMA fan base': UFC fighter Payton Talbott defends videos of him pole dancing

Talbott delivered the remarks after a 19-second KO win at UFC 303.

UFC prospect Payton Talbott answered a series of unusual questions after a stunning victory at UFC 303 and said that he didn't want to be put "in a box" because he enjoys activities like pole dancing.

Talbott improved to 9-0 after knocking out fellow 135-pound fighter Yanis Ghemmouri in just 19 seconds.

Following the win, Talbott was asked many atypical questions in the subsequent press conference and interviews.

During the post-fight press conference, Talbott was asked about his love for skateboarding and how his body has held up.

"What's harder on the body: skateboarding or MMA?" a reporter asked.

"Skateboarding, for sure. Nobody hits harder than concrete. Skateboarding has derailed so many fighters' careers," Talbott replied.

'I just think people have a really hard time characterizing me into this identity of a fighter.'

That was, however, one of the more normal questions Talbott would face after his fight. Two days later, during an interview with Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour," Talbott was asked to shed light on some viral videos that fans have been asking about.

Helwani asked about "pole stuff" in reference to videos of Talbott doing "pole dancing" or "pole fitness."

"[Fans] are not sure what to make of it. ... Could I ask, when you see [negative reactions] how does that make you feel?" Helwani asked.

"I don't really like a lot of the MMA fan base, and I don't do [those] things out of spite for people, but I think it's hard for people when they see somebody that they can't box into their own parameters that they're used to," he said about the dancing. "They come up with a word that they feel they can box them into. I think it's really hard for MMA fans to put me in a box, and I hope so, I hope I'm very hard to box in," he told Helwani.

"A lot of times that's, like, gay. Like, 'He's a gay dude,' or 'he's zesty,' or he's this or he's that," Talbott added. "I just think people have a really hard time characterizing me into this identity of a fighter. Hopefully, maybe some day that changes what the expectations are of a fighter; we're not just mules that go out there and beat the s*** out of each other, we're actually people with hobbies."

Talbott explained that his mother and his sister taught him pole fitness, noting that while they are fitness instructors, they did not want to "devalue" stripping on a pole, either.

The bantamweight was also asked to clarify the claim that there was a video circulating online of him putting a vape pen in his anus.

"Maybe I just live on another planet," Helwani joked. "Can you explain what this is and explain why you felt the need to talk about this?"

Talbott said that the video in question was not actually him, but rather he was the one filming his friend. He claimed that the idea for the video was to find a way for his friend to quit vaping and that doing the act would discourage the friend from using the smoking product again. Unfortunately, it did not.

The Nevada native also told his host that he isn't a fan of answering too many questions at press conferences due to the repetitiveness of the queries and the general idea that "not everything needs to be explained."

Talbott is 3-0 in the UFC since November 2023.

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Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados is a writer focusing on sports, culture, entertainment, gaming, and U.S. politics. The podcaster and former radio-broadcaster also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he confirms actually does exist.
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