The UFC is always looking to expand into new territories and it may be time for UFC Africa. With shows in North and South America, annual trips to Europe, and regular trips to Australia and Asia, we know they are open to expansion. The UFC now has two African born UFC champions, an African born top contender in the heavyweight division and multiple African born contenders in different weight divisions.
MMASucka published an article last year discussing whether the UFC should go to Africa. Following a number of high profile African fighters making moves recently, we re-visit the question: Is it time for UFC Africa?
Great Time for UFC Africa
With elite fighters in a number of different divisions as well as the new ESPN deal, there has never been a better time to put on an event in Africa. The man who could carry this event, headline it and be the perfect poster boy? The Nigerian Nightmare: Kamaru Usman.
The co-main event of UFC 235 marked the first time an African born fighter has won a UFC championship. Kamaru Usman dominated former champion, Tyron Woodley, over five rounds to become the welterweight champion. Born in Auchi, Nigeria, Usman is the perfect poster boy for a UFC event in Africa. With a huge following and an exciting rivalry with top contender Colby Covington, the UFC has the perfect fight to sell the event. Usman is a man who is extremely proud of his Nigerian roots, making him the perfect candidate to carry the card.
Having won TUF 21, headlined two fight night events and co-headlined UFC 235, Usman will not let the moment get to him. The fashion in which he dominates his opponents isn’t always flashy, but it certainly gets the job done using his wrestling style. With Covington also being a proficient wrestler, this leads to an interesting style match up.
“The Last Stylebender” Israel Adesanya is now the UFC interim middleweight champion. Following a fight of the year candidate at UFC 234, Nigerian born Adesanya has rose to stardom. Almost finishing Kelvin Gastelum in the fifth round, Adesanya captured the belt, winning by unanimous decision. At 17-0, Adesanya has had an unprecedented rise to fame within the UFC since his debut in 2018. In his six UFC fights, he has three performance of the night bonuses and two fight of the night honours.
The interim champion is more than likely to compete for the undisputed belt at UFC 243 in Australia hometown middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. If this doesn’t come to fruition, Adesanya will certainly bring eyes to a UFC Africa card should it happen.
One of the scariest fighters to ever compete in the UFC was born in Cameroon. Former heavyweight title contender Francis Ngannou has been on a tear since his two-fight losing streak. Ngannou knocked out both Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez in under a minute. “The Predator” is set to face Junior dos Santos in the main event at UFC on ESPN 3. This could very well be seen as a #1 contender fight, which would determine who would take on the winner of Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic in their upcoming fight.
Another fighter who is extremely proud of his roots, Ngannou could get a number of eyes on a UFC Africa card. People will always tune in to watch him fight due to his devastating power. An exciting fighter, Ngannou already has the star-power to headline a card, as we have seen on multiple occasions. Having only made his professional MMA debut in 2013, Ngannou has progressed massively in a short period of time. He very well could be one of the biggest stars the promotion has ever seen if he continues his upward trajectory.
Best of the rest
Usman, Adesanya and Ngannou are certainly the poster-boys of African MMA. It is worth remembering, though, that there are a number of contenders in the UFC with African origins.
- Marc Diakiese– Born in The Democratic Republic of Congo, Diakiese has a captivating style. The fan-pleaser’s flashy style makes him exciting to watch. Following three losses on the spin, Diakiese defeated Joe Duffy at UFC Fight Night 147.
- Don Madge– Cape Town’s Madge is a fun new prospect in the lightweight division. Riding a five-fight win streak, including one win in the UFC, Madge is the only South African fighter currently in the promotion. Finishing all eight of his wins, Madge is exciting and certainly brings eyes whenever he fights.
- Sodiq Yusuff– The Nigerian Yusuff is making waves in the featherweight division. At 2-0 in the UFC, Yusuff was last in action at UFC on ESPN 2. With a well-rounded style, Yusuff will look to stay active and continue to rise in the 145 pound division.
- Abdul Razak Alhassan– The heavy-handed welterweight Alhassan has finished all ten of his wins by knockout. 4-1 in the UFC, the Ghanaian brings a walk-forward style, making his style exciting to watch. Unfortunately, out of the cage issues may disqualify him from this opportunity.
If the UFC doesn’t want to commit to a PPV for their debut show in Africa, they have a number of different options. They could put on an ESPN card and following the ‘new’ deal, this will bring a large number of eyes to the card. It also makes the card easier to view for American viewers, allowing local talent to be showcased.
If they are still skeptical, the UFC could potentially put on an Ultimate Fighter series in Africa. They often put on TUF series abroad and this could be the perfect way to expand into Africa. This would bring in local talent and show the fans what Africa has to offer. Likewise, although they are yet to travel abroad for the show, the ‘Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight’ crew could travel to Africa. This would again showcase new talent and would give the fans an example of what African fighters are capable of.
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