Regional | Hākinakina

Shane Young laser-focused to make UFC 284 bout a victory in Perth

Tāmaki Makaurau fighter Shane Young’s next tussle in the UFC is just days away as he looks to avenge back-to-back losses and spoil the debut of his opponent at UFC 284.

Fighting against newcomer Blake Bilder will be Young’s sixth UFC fight and first bout in almost two years but he’s looking to get back in the winning circle as part of the early preliminaries in Perth’s RAC Arena.

The Maraenui born-and-bred fighter’s mindset has seen him laser-focused for his upcoming showdown. He’s been active on social media in the last two months showing every detail he can of his intense fight camp at City Kickboxing.

Perth is home to many Māori and as such is almost a home crowd, the Tino Rangatiratanga flag-bearing Young says.

Speaking with media earlier in the week, Young (Ngāti Kahungunu) has been wanting that live crowd energy, as his last two fights were inside the empty UFC Apex.

“This is my 15th year of fighting and I didn’t work this hard for this long to fight in front of 40 people. It’s not about the money for me – it’s the whole experience,” he says.

Experiences are exactly what Young gives fans too. He’s known for his pre and post-fight actions, whether it be performing haka to his opponents during weigh-ins, speaking Māori after his wins, giving his opponent a hōngi after the fight or shining lights on mental health struggles back home in Aotearoa.

While the two years have given him time to be more connected to te ao Māori, he won’t give a performance until, if he’s successful, he gets the win over Bilder.

"I'm going to let the time for any performance of that kind happen directly after the win. Hopefully, there's a lot of Māori out there in Perth who know the haka Tika Tonu.

“Before the fight it’s not really time to speak or put out anything but I will have something prepared.”

When it comes to his opponent, Young believes the raucous hostile home crowd and his experience will be too much for Bilder to handle.

“I always put myself under a lot of pressure, more pressure than any fighter could ever put on me. I’m just looking to perform well. I respect him as a martial artist and as an athlete but I know the work that I put in. I’m going to show it on Sunday.”

Shane Young takes on the undefeated UFC debutant Blake Bilder as part of UFC 284’s early prelim card this Sunday, starting from 12pm NZ time.

Public Interest Journalism