The fight ended before it even began. Footage posted online shows four Chinese police officers sweeping in and detaining controversial Chinese mixed martial arts fighter Xu Xiaodong minutes before his comeback fight Monday against a Tai Chi master.
The planned event came just weeks after video of Xu flattening a different Tai Chi master in only 12 seconds went viral, prompting massive backlash that forced Xu out of the public eye. An outspoken self-promoter, Xu has claimed he’s on a mission to expose fake masters of traditional martial arts.
Xu’s victory in April was seen as a slap in the face to Chinese culture from a Western-style fighter, triggering a heated national debate on the combat effectiveness of Tai Chi, a traditional and performative form of martial arts endorsed by the Chinese government. Skeptics said that Monday’s competition was broken up to prevent Xu from continuing to insult traditional Chinese martial arts.
As for the second fight that never happened, Xu later announced on his Chinese social media account Wechat that he had been “censored for the second time.”
VICE News met with Xu at his gym in Beijing earlier this month when he was still preparing for battle.
This segment originally aired June 21, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.