Fans across the world have been eagerly awaiting for the UFC’s first card in Africa for a while now. With a bevvy of talent coming from the continent, the maiden voyage to the continent should be imminent. UFC president Dana White even mentioned bringing a UFC Performance Institute there, so it seems like the idea is growing on the organization.
It should be noted that Africa is a vast and diverse continent, so the term “UFC Africa” is relatively vague. Therefore, in an effort to be more specific, the UFC’s first event should be in its largest city of Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria is the birth country of four active UFC fighters, the most among African nations. It is also centrally located in the continent and is relatively close to the other African UFC fighters’ countries of origin, excluding South Africa’s Don Madge. With those factors in mind, below is a proposal for the hypothetical main card of the inaugural PPV event in Africa.
UFC Africa Main Card
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
The main card of UFC Africa would kick off with a light heavyweight fight between two rising African prospects. The “African Savage” Kennedy Nzechukwu is the first Nigerian to fight on the card. In his two-fight UFC career, Nzechukwu was first submitted by Paul Craig before beating Darko Stosic by unanimous decision. Meanwhile, Congolese “Champion” Dalcha Lungiambula won his debut by TKO over Dequan Townsend before losing by TKO to Magomed Ankalaev. Each have exciting stand-up styles, making the fight a great option for the main card opener.
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Jeremy Stephens
Lagos native “Super” Sodiq Yusuff has been on an impressive tear to begin his UFC career, alternating first-round TKOs and unanimous decision victories in four fights. He has now entered the featherweight rankings and, by most accounts, is ready for a significant step up in competition. “Lil Heathen” Jeremy Stephens is a tough test for any fighter in the division. Recently, he has served as a gauge for young talent to determine whether they are the real deal. Nonetheless, Stephens is almost always in exciting fights and is one punch away from ending his opponent’s night. This fight is sure to be a barnburner and an awesome opportunity for both fighters.
Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis II
It was one of the most boring fights in UFC history the first time, but it seems impossible that would be the case if they were to rematch. Serving as the co-main event for UFC 226, Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis combined to land a total of 33 strikes over the course of three rounds. The Cameroon native, Ngannou was coming off of a dominant loss in a title fight against Stipe Miocic, and admittedly was still mentally affected by it. Lewis, meanwhile, fought with a serious back injury that clearly restricted his movement. He was still able to do just enough to earn the unanimous decision victory.
Since then, Ngannou has been on a tear, winning three fights in a row by KO in a combined 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Lewis received treatment for his back injury, which had been supposedly lingering for a long time. He has slimmed down recently to get in better shape, no longer having to cut weight to make the heavyweight limit. Lewis has since skyrocketed in popularity as well, even earning a title shot less than four months later, albeit in a losing effort. It seems, then, that the issues that caused their first matchup to be so terrible. This fight gives both fighters a chance at redemption and fans the opportunity to see the much-anticipated slugfest they have been hoping for.
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington II
It was a great fight the first go-around, and the bad blood is still there between “The Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. While most expected a high-level grappling-heavy affair between two standout wrestlers, it turned out to be a “Fight of the Night” banger at UFC 245. Usman ended up winning the fight late into the fifth round by TKO. “Chaos” Covington, however, has since demanded a rematch, claiming the fight was stopped early by referee Marc Goddard. Usman has also expressed interest in the rematch, and fans likely would love to see them fight again. Therefore, the rematch should happen sooner rather than later.
It also makes sense to have this fight happen at UFC Africa. Usman is proud of his Nigerian lineage, and it would surely be a dream to fight in his home country. Covington is a notorious heel and would love to not only be able to avenge his loss but also would relish being showered with the jeers from a crowd hostilely against him. This rematch is a perfect fit for this event.
Israel Adesanya vs. Jon Jones
These two fighters have a serious beef and it only seems like a matter of time before they are matched up together. In the headlining act of an epic African UFC debut, Israel Adesanya should move up to light heavyweight to take on Jon Jones in an effort to become a two-division champion. Considering the event would be in his native Lagos, this seems like a dream scenario for “The Last Stylebender”.
Jones, meanwhile, has been turning into a true heel, and this might be a perfect storm for “Bones” to fully embrace his new role. The fight itself would be incredibly intriguing to watch as well, making it one of the most-anticipated matchups in UFC history, and an ideal headliner for UFC Africa.
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