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UFC 263: Brad Riddell’s heartache over alleged ‘coward punch’ death of Fau Vake

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It was the moment that sent shockwaves through the UFC community. A beloved teammate killed by a coward punch in the heart of New Zealand.

Fau Vake, 25, was allegedly struck from behind in the early hours of Sunday, May 16.

He was rushed to Auckland City Hospital, but sadly died seven days later.

Nearly a month on the severity of the situation still shakes Riddell to his core, who trained closely with Vake at the illustrious City Kickboxing MMA gym in New Zealand.

“Everyone keeps saying he passed away, but he was murdered,” Riddell told 7NEWS.com.au recently.

“He was beaten up by those guys on the street.

Brad Riddell (L) sparring Fau Vake (R). Credit: Instagram/bradquakeriddell

“In my eyes, he was murdered.”

What made the ordeal so much more painful were the brief glimpses of improvement in Vake’s condition.

Sadly, however, Vake died seven days later on May 23.

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‘In my eyes, he was murdered’

“There was an entire week of hoping that he would wake up and start functioning again,” Riddell said.

“The whole week was just stress and pain, which was then magnified when he passed away.”

Vake with his three-year-old daughter.
Vake with his three-year-old daughter. Credit: Instagram/fauvake

Four men have faced a New Zealand court in relation to the incident. That trial is still ongoing.

One has been charged with manslaughter, with the remaining three receiving lesser charges in relation to the alleged attack.

Riddell was in a training camp for his UFC 263 bout – which he won on Sunday AEST – when he got the news that Vake was in the hospital.

He says the experience has spurred him on and opened his eyes to how precious life is.

Riddell post-fight.
Riddell post-fight. Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

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“It’s really made me step back and evaluate things and remind me to be grateful,” Riddell said.

“To be able to do whatever you want every day is a gift and when this stuff happens it slaps you in the face.

“And you realise that you do have to be grateful for each day.

“Now we are celebrating his life and trying to turn that bad energy into some good energy.”

Vake left behind a partner and a three-year-old daughter.


It was the moment that sent shockwaves through the UFC community. A beloved teammate killed by a coward punch in the heart of New Zealand.

Fau Vake, 25, was allegedly struck from behind in the early hours of Sunday, May 16.

He was rushed to Auckland City Hospital, but sadly died seven days later.

Nearly a month on the severity of the situation still shakes Riddell to his core, who trained closely with Vake at the illustrious City Kickboxing MMA gym in New Zealand.

“Everyone keeps saying he passed away, but he was murdered,” Riddell told 7NEWS.com.au recently.

“He was beaten up by those guys on the street.

Brad Riddell (L) sparring Fau Vake (R).
Brad Riddell (L) sparring Fau Vake (R). Credit: Instagram/bradquakeriddell

“In my eyes, he was murdered.”

What made the ordeal so much more painful were the brief glimpses of improvement in Vake’s condition.

Sadly, however, Vake died seven days later on May 23.

Chevron Right Icon

‘In my eyes, he was murdered’

“There was an entire week of hoping that he would wake up and start functioning again,” Riddell said.

“The whole week was just stress and pain, which was then magnified when he passed away.”

Vake with his three-year-old daughter.
Vake with his three-year-old daughter. Credit: Instagram/fauvake

Four men have faced a New Zealand court in relation to the incident. That trial is still ongoing.

One has been charged with manslaughter, with the remaining three receiving lesser charges in relation to the alleged attack.

Riddell was in a training camp for his UFC 263 bout – which he won on Sunday AEST – when he got the news that Vake was in the hospital.

He says the experience has spurred him on and opened his eyes to how precious life is.

Riddell post-fight.
Riddell post-fight. Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your .

To find out more about how we use cookies, please see our Cookie Guide.

“It’s really made me step back and evaluate things and remind me to be grateful,” Riddell said.

“To be able to do whatever you want every day is a gift and when this stuff happens it slaps you in the face.

“And you realise that you do have to be grateful for each day.

“Now we are celebrating his life and trying to turn that bad energy into some good energy.”

Vake left behind a partner and a three-year-old daughter.

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