Tunisian welterweight contender Mounir Lazzez has found himself under scrutiny for his support of alleged Irish crime boss Daniel Kinahan. Lazzez returned to the UFC’s Octagon on Saturday night in Las Vegas, defeating Ange Loosa by unanimous decision. He shouted out the Irishman in his post-fight interview, conjuring immediate controversy in the process. Kinahan, who is heavily involved in the combat sports industry, has been accused of heading a US$1 billion drugs and weapons gang. Now based in Dubai, Kinahan has no criminal convictions and has always denied any wrongdoing. Mounir Lazzez was asked about his #UFCVegas51 post-win shoutout of suspected Irish mob boss Daniel Kinahan, who was sanctioned by the U.S. government and had a $5 million bounty placed on his head this week. Here's what he had to say: pic.twitter.com/Vsf0JTcrhX — MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) April 17, 2022 Last week, the United States government imposed sanctions on the 44-year-old, offering a US$5 million reward for information leading to his arrest or disruption of his alleged operation. Following the sanctions, it became illegal for businesses, banks and financial institutions in the US to work with Kinahan, who the US treasury said in a report “sources large quantities of cocaine from South America” to distribute to Ireland. Lazzez was asked about his support of Kinahan – and whether he was aware of the sanctions – by Insider reporter Alan Dawson at the UFC Vegas 51 post-fight press conference. He claimed to have no knowledge of the situation. “No, I don’t know that,” the 34-year-old welterweight said. “I think I’m here to entertain people and I say I give the credit to whoever deserves credit. I’m not involved in this kind of stuff and I don’t know about it and I will investigate how it is and how to go.” UFC: Muhammad avenges loss to Luque, calls out Covington Lazzez was not let off the hook by the reporter, and attempted to justify his connection to Kinahan by praising the Irishman’s character, referring to him as a “friend and adviser”. “He’s the one who picked me up every time life would kick me down,” Lazzez said. “He’s a real man of his word and, you know, he’s the one who [taught] me what does it mean: real family, real friend. “It’s someone I cannot thank him enough for where I am today and who I am today. That’s why I said that. All the shout-out and credit to him.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mounir “TheSniper” Lazzez (@mounirlazzez) Lazzez was finally asked about the potential risks of praising Kinahan on an international UFC broadcast, but again showed no signs of concern. “For me, it’s a simple thing: it’s a friend outside the gym and just I meet him for advice and things and he helped me through my career,” Lazzez said. “I don’t follow really this kind of news,” he added. “I focus on the sport. I focus on my family. I focus on entertaining people and that’s most important.” Kinahan has been involved in the careers of many other fighters, most notably UFC middleweight contender Darren Till and heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, both of the United Kingdom. Irish police commissioner Drew Harris has warned all professional fighters involved with Kinahan to quickly cut all ties. “What was implicit before, and what some individuals could choose to ignore, is absolutely explicit – if you deal with the individuals who are sanctioned as part of the Kinahan organised crime gang, you are dealing with criminals engaged in drug trafficking,” Harris told The Guardian after the sanctions against Kinahan were enacted. UFC: China’s Heili Alateng scores 47-second win in show opener With his victory over Loosa, Lazzez (10-2) rebounded from an upset stoppage loss to Warlley Alves in his last Octagon appearance. That setback was preceded by an impressive decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan in his UFC debut. Lazzez’s mention of Kinahan has been clipped out of his post-fight interview on the UFC’s official YouTube channel.