‘This is MMA’: UFC’s Waldo Cortes-Acosta responds to ‘unfair’ criticism of Robelis Despaigne win

Waldo Cortes-Acosta took on a very dangerous striker in the heavyweight division and gave him his first professional loss while having a dominant showing. Yet, despite getting the job done, some are throwing criticism his way.

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC on ESPN 56, Cortes-Acosta (12-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) defeated Olympic medalist in taekwondo Robelis Despaigne in a clear unanimous decision that read 30-27 on two judges scorecards and 30-26 on another. Cortes-Acosta mixed his wrestling with striking defense to defeat the decorated striker Despaigne (5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), who’s 6-foot-7 and has the longest wingspan in the promotion.

Many, including UFC CEO Dana White, wanted to see a heavyweight striking slugfest, which Cortes-Acosta finds to be an unfair expectation.

“They’re unfair because this is MMA,” Cortes-Acosta said around the public criticism of his performance, speaking with MMA Junkie in Spanish. “This is a combination of martial arts where you do striking and kicking, but you also go to the ground. There’s a lot to this.

“So criticizing me in that manner, it takes away what MMA is really about. There’s boxing, Lomachenko was fighting this weekend. If you want just boxing, go watch him. We’re mixing everything up, and that means the ground game as well.”

If you follow Cortes-Acosta on social media, you know he’s not one to shy away from fan criticism – quite the opposite. Cortes-Acosta has been going back and forth with some of his critics, and he’s been enjoying it.

“That’s social media, and you have to engage,” Cortes-Acosta said. “Speaking of clashing with fans, I finished my fight early on Saturday, and I was off my phone for about four hours, and when I checked, I had to reply to about 4,000 messages from different people, and I replied to every single one of them.

“I didn’t sleep that night. I just hopped directly on the plane, and I’m still replying to messages.”

The Dominican heavyweight is now 5-1 since joining the UFC in 2022. He’s happy with the way his career is going not only because he’s been rising up the rankings, but also showing evolution to his game, which is something his fans have appreciated.

“There’s always going to be critics and people saying the worst things about you and all that, but a lot of people that criticized me or didn’t know about me are now cheering for me because I showed things that I had never done before in the octagon,” Cortes-Acosta said. “They see me with different eyes. I’m not just a boxer and a striker, but I can wrestle, too.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie