Sodiq Yusuff’s first-round TKO finish of Gabriel Benitez on the main card of UFC 241 reignited the conversation about the UFC’s potential debut in Africa.
In the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White was asked whether or not the promotion was pondering the idea, to which he responded with a resounding yes.
White cited the popularity of MMA in the continent as the main reason for considering the possibility of UFC Africa.
“Actually what’s crazy—and most people might not know this—but the sport has been big in Africa for a while,” White said. “I mean that’s why these guys are popping up, because we had a television deal in Africa for a while and then they have another organization over there, EFC [Extreme Fighting Championship], that’s pretty popular and does well, and between those two things, it helped build a market there, and it’s real.”
Since launching on November 12, 2009, EFC has put on 81 events in a number of different locations in South Africa.
As for the UFC’s debut, it is still very much in preliminary talks. White did not offer any specifics on a possible location for the card.
“I don’t know,” White said. “I’m just saying there is a market there, it is real, and yes, we can and probably will do a fight there.”
Yusuff’s win at UFC 241 was his third in a row since getting a UFC contract by way of Dana White’s Contender Series. He defeated Mike Davis by unanimous decision in week 6 of the show in 2018.
Fellow Nigerian Kennedy Nzechukwu also found his way to the UFC after a Contender Series win last year. He stopped Dennis Bryant with a first-round TKO in the show’s eighth week.
Nzechukwu lost his UFC debut against Paul Craig by submission late in the fight. He rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Darko Stosic at UFC Newark earlier this month in a bizarre fight that saw Stosic strike him in the groin on numerous occasions, leading to two point deductions.
The other two Nigerian UFC fighters currently wear gold around their waists.
Kamaru Usman became the first African-born UFC champion when he dethroned Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in March of this year. Usman is undefeated in the UFC since joining by way of winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 21.
One month after Usman’s win, Israel Adesanya earned himself a title as well. He defeated Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision to win the interim middleweight belt, which he will now attempt to unify with champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October.
Adesanya’s win in April also preserved his undefeated professional MMA record, moving him to 17-0.
Together, these four Nigerian fighters have a combined UFC record of 20-1.
Other African fighters currently in the UFC include heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou, lightweights Marc Diakiese and Don Madge and welterweight Abdul Razak Alhassan.
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.