UFC featherweight champion Ilia Topuria received a hero’s welcome ahead of Real Madrid’s clash with Sevilla, before posing with both groups of players.
Earlier this month, the 27-year-old became the first Spanish champion in UFC history after his stunning KO victory over Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 298.
Topuria threw a hard right hand just over the shoulder and into the chin of ‘The Great One’, who fell to the canvas at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Since then, Topuria has been showered with praise from some of his compatriots on social media and has now received a spectacular welcome at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Ahead of Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Sevilla on Sunday night, in which Luka Modric scored the late winner for the hosts, Topuria took to the field.
UFC champion Ilia Topuria received a hero’s welcome ahead of the Real Madrid clash on Sunday.
Topuria was received by both captains before jumping onto the Santiago Bernabéu pitch
Jude Bellingham (left) and Sergio Ramos (right) were among the players who posed with Topuria.
Applause from fans and players alike rang out for the featherweight champion, who brought his UFC belt onto the field before taking the ceremonial kickoff.
Topuria was seen shaking hands with both captains, Nacho Fernandez and Sergio Ramos, before handing the belt to a referee and executing the kick.
The UFC champion then left the court, but subsequent images showed the players from Madrid and Seville posing with Topuria and the featherweight title.
The likes of Thibaut Courtois, Sergio Ramos, David Alaba and Jude Bellingham, who missed the match due to injury, posed alongside the UFC star.
When Topuria claimed its title, the official Real Madrid instagram account shared an image of the champion, with the text: ‘Congratulations on your historic victory for Spanish sport, @IliaTopuria.
‘We are proud that a great Madrid fan like you has been proclaimed @UFC world champion.’
Although born in Georgia, Topuria moved to Spain during his early childhood and previously expressed a desire to represent the nation.
In an interview with the UFC In 2020, Topuria said: ‘It’s amazing because I get a lot of support from both Georgia and Spain.
‘I feel very good and I have never had bad comments about ‘Why don’t you represent only Spain or only Georgia?’ It’s always been positive, people support me and I love it.
Officials held Topuria’s belt as the featherweight champion tipped off before the game.
Topuria became the first Spanish champion in UFC history following his victory earlier this month.
‘I grew up in Georgia, but I feel Spanish. I started mixed martial arts in Spain and I can’t say, ‘Okay, I’m Georgian’ because I live in Spain, I train in Spain and Spain brought me to where I am today.
At the Santiago Bernabéu, Luka Modric went back in time to score the winning goal in Real Madrid’s tight victory over Ramos’ Sevilla.
It was the former Real Madrid captain’s first game at the Bernabéu since leaving the club two years ago and for 85 minutes it looked like he was going to leave with a clean sheet and a point, but his old teammate Modric had other ideas.
The 38-year-old came on in the 75th minute and, when Ramos headed in a cross from Fede Valverde, the ball fell to the Croatian and with his first touch he got it perfectly right to launch an unstoppable shot into the net.