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Viral MMA fighter who confronted racist says ‘we’ve lost a lot of empathy’

MMA fighter Khai Wu defended an Asian business staff member who was being berated for not selling sushi.

Meet Khai Wu, the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who stood up for an Asian business owner being verbally attacked for not selling sushi.

In a video posted to social media, an Asian restaurant staff member was being berated by a man who insisted the business sold sushi. They did not. After the increasingly irate, and seemingly intoxicated, individual accused the English-speaking staff of not speaking English, Wu stood up. The nine-fight veteran calmly explained that the restaurant did not sell sushi and that the third party speaks English just fine. Eventually, Wu and the aggressor stepped outside, after which the unnamed man left the premises.

Many heralded Wu for stepping up and defending the restaurant owner; however, a vocal minority criticized the fighter for blurring out the man’s face and not getting physical.

“A lot of people are like, ‘Oh I would have done this. I would have knocked him out. Post his face [online],’” Wu tells, blaming the anonymity of social media. “I think as a society we’ve lost a lot of empathy. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Ironically, I did do something. But I mean physically. I felt bad for the guy. A lot of times these people are speaking from a place of hurt. They’re traumatized, they have been hurt before. So they have a lot of pent-up anger and rage. Until they can cope with that and learn to deal with that, it puts them in an emotional state. Especially when you’re dealing with these situations, you don’t want to be emotional. I know it’s hard and I guess what I’m saying is try your best.

“You have no idea what was going on. If he had a weapon on him, maybe a knife. If I had jumped the gun, this whole situation could have been a lot worse. We could have smashed windows, people could have been hurt. There are hotpots there. We could have scuffled and knocked the fire over,” he continued. “I think people need to be more empathic.”

Wu — who believes the individual was on drugs — expresses how misleading posts on social media can be, even if it wasn’t necessarily the case in this situation.

“They don’t get the full backstory. You can’t see what happened. You weren't there. You can’t feel the energy,” Wu says. “I hope people can understand that when you watch a video, don’t judge it too quickly. I’m not saying this is the case, but what if I started [the altercation] 10 minutes before the camera started rolling?”

Wu was blown away by the virality of the video. He even got a nod from an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) titleholder.

“I did not expect it to make the rounds the way it did,” he shares.”I was surprised. I even got a thumbs up from the champ, the [UFC] Lightweight champ Charles Oliveira.”

Wu is the brother-in-law of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJ) champion and renowned coach Dave Camarillo, who has trained the likes of Cain Velasquez. Speaking of UFC champions, Wu reveals which fighters inspire him most.

“Hands down, he just fought this weekend, Frankie Edgar is my hero,” Wu says. “He’s one of the best to have ever done it, in my opinion. This guy is a savage, win or lose. He’s a savage. Dominick Cruz’s style influenced me a lot due to his evasiveness.”

Wu (6-3) snapped a four-fight winning streak in July. He expects to fight again early next year.

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