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UFC Will Debut In Africa In 2022, Thanks To African MMA Champions
Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya, and Francis Ngannou. If you are a fan of mixed martial arts, you are aware of the fact that these are three of the most important names in MMA as of late. More importantly, you also know that these athletes are African-born fighters.
These world champions have become huge celebrities on the continent over the past two years. Now, because of their success, the most popular MMA brand company in the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), will debut in Africa in 2022.
Nigerian-born Usman came first. In 2019, he became the UFC’s first ever African-born champion. Then, the same year, his fellow countryman Adesanya took home the middleweight title. In March 2021, Cameroonian fighter Ngannou claimed his own world title belt, beating Stipe Miocic to become the heavyweight champion.
Those triumphs made UFC CEO Dana White consider expanding his sport brand in Africa. In an interview with BroBible, White revealed his plans to debut the UFC in Africa, and begin promoting its operations on the continent.
“We are preparing the UFC for 2022 (in Africa),” White told BroBible, however he has not revealed any specific host countries as of yet.
In addition to holding events in the motherland, the UFC is also looking for athletes who may potentially be the next African MMA stars. White also plans to establish a branch of the UFC Performance Institute in Africa, which would be the company’s third after its branches in China and at its headquarters in Las Vegas.
“We always believed that this business would be big globally, finding talent around the world,” said White. “We will build a Performance Institute there. Whenever you find a place where people grow up in difficult times, there are always good talents there. Not just fighters, but athletes of all kinds. The question is what kind of resources they have there to grow and learn. I want to build the PI there and I think we’ll see some tough guys come out of there in five or six years.”
Known as the ‘Nigerian Nightmare,’ Kamaru Usman was born in Auchi, Nigeria and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight with his family. Usman started his MMA career in 2012 and amassed a record of 5-1 before being selected for the Ultimate Fighter 21. In March 2019, he realized a dream by becoming a world champion. In an interview with CNN, he said that he hopes that his journey — along with that of Adesanya and Ngannou — can be the example others might need to follow in their footsteps.
“[Fighting in the UFC] wasn’t an example of something that was attainable and now we are that example for the masses,” Usman told CNN. “Because I go back to my childhood growing up and starting to get into sports and simultaneously ending up in wrestling, of all places, in high school.”
Usman mentioned the importance of researching the young athletes and finding out what they were doing and how they were able to breakthrough and get to that point.
“That’s something that’s so powerful because you’re letting the human mind know that this is attainable. I never saw an example of a UFC champion and now to be that example for the masses all across Africa, not just Africa, all across the world, it’s something that I definitely do not take for granted.”