Kamaru Usman Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
Kamaru Usman last year became the first African-born mixed martial artist to win a world title with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He has since seen a generation of fighters from the continent taking after him.
The 33-year-old Nigerian, a welterweight champion, reckons that this is only just the beginning for African fighters already signed by the Las Vegas-based UFC – the sport’s leading global promotion – and for the next general of African fighters who will follow them.
“There’s just so much talent coming out of Africa,” Usman told AFP in a virtual interview. “I know there are kids now who see me and I look like them. They know I’ve seen their paths, I’ve walked that journey. It’s powerful.”
The Florida-based Usman (17-1) claimed the UFC’s welterweight belt with a unanimous decision over American Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) in March 2019 – and he has since defended it twice, with a TKO victory over American Colby Covington (16-2).
Dubbed the Nigerian Nightmare, he scored a second-round knockout to finish American Jorge Masvidal on Saturday, April 24, 2021. It secures his undisputed UFC welterweight title. The bout exploded in round two with Masvidal sent crashing. However, Usman, says his work is not over yet. He still believes his fight now is to continue improving his game.
“I’ve finished my last three opponents, I’ve finished them all. So right now I just need to take some time and continue to train and get better, but these guys got to show me something because right now, I’m the champion, I’m the most active guy in the division, these guys just can’t wait around and wait for me to call their number, they need to show me something,” he said.
Usman’s win improved his record to 19-1 and extended his unbeaten run to 18 fights, securing his place as one of UFC’s greatest fighters.
“I want to be that role model to everyone from Nigeria, from Morocco, from Cameroon, all the way down to South Africa, I want to motivate them and say this can be done so, this one was extremely satisfying for me tonight,” he said after his victory against Gilbert Burns.