Real Madrid honour new UFC champion Ilia Topuria at Bernabeu before Sevilla game

Real Madrid celebrated Ilia Topuria at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, as the new UFC featherweight champion performed the ceremonial kick-off for the team’s game against Sevilla.

Topuria, 27, knocked out Alexander Volkanovski on 17 February, taking the men’s featherweight title from the long-time champion. In doing so, Topuria became the first UFC champion to represent Spain.

Topuria was born in Germany to Georgian parents, but “El Matador” has spent much of his life in Spain and predominantly represents Spain and Georgia in the UFC. He is therefore also the first UFC champion to represent Georgia.

Ahead of Real’s LaLiga win over Sevilla on Sunday (25 February), Topuria walked onto the Bernabeu pitch and met the captains of both teams – including his friend Sergio Ramos, a Real Madrid legend who now plays for Sevilla.

Topuria, a longtime Real Madrid fan, carried his UFC title onto the pitch in front of approximately 75,000 fans, before kicking the match ball.

Before and after winning the UFC featherweight title, the unbeaten Topuria expressed his desire to bring the UFC to Spain for the first time in the promotion’s history. The company is generally averse to stadium shows, but Topuria’s preference is to make his first title defence at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid beat Sevilla 1-0, courtesy of a goal by Luka Modric.