A first for the UFC saw a Ngāti Kahungunu fighter carrying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, and te reo Māori, into the Octagon.

Shane Young won with a second-round TKO over Filipino Rolando Dy in Singapore, and while notching the win was a highlight, he also says that putting Māoridom and te reo on the international stage through his post-fight interview was just as significant.

“That's what I wanted. I wanted to say beautiful sounding words, and it actually meant something, and it had power to me, that I could recite in the whole week.”

The 24-year-old featherweight says reconnecting with his Māori culture plays a huge role in his career.

“Being half-caste looking pretty white but growing up Māori, my first language was te reo. I went to kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, then I went to a bilingual school. Rekindling my Māoridom and finding myself, that’s where I’m at in terms of a fighter.”

Now, the aim for Young is to train hard to keep the body fit and strong.

“There are a couple shows in November and December and could possibly be fighting so I’ll definitely be fighting before this year's end and I’m going to smash it.”

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