CAPE TOWN – Kamaru Usman says that Africa's chance to host a UFC event may not be that far away.
Speaking ahead of UFC258 tomorrow - where the Auchi, Nigeria-bron Welterweight Champion will defend his belt against Gilbert Burns - Kamaru feels that UFC Africa has to become a reality soon.
“Hey, we are going to have to make this happen,” says the dominant Ultimate Fighting Champion (17-1) gleefully during a UFC Virtual Media press conference.
“We are about to have three African-born champions. (Who will) All be holding belts, so we are going to have to make something happen sooner or later. And I envision that as being one of the most memorable and massive events this company has ever seen.
The other two athletes Kamaru refers to is Middleweight champion, Nigerian-born Israel Adesanya (who will also face Jan Blachowicz for the Light-Heavyweight title, too) and Cameroon-born Francis Ngannou who faces Stipe Miocic in a rematch for the Heavyweight title.
Both these fights will take place next month.
“I don’t think we are far from that first African event at all,” elaborates Kamaru.
“The tough thing is, the higher-ups and executives will have to say ‘okay, we are going to do whatever it takes to make this happen. There are lots of intricate details that a lot of people don’t understand that go into bringing events to certain places. Finance-wise, transportation, logistics and making sure everything works out.
“There definitely are a couple of countries down on the continent that are definitely capable of hosting and making this thing come to fruition, and it’s up to the company to decide, sooner or later,” added Kamaru.
The continent is home to some of the finest promotions - and the Extreme Fighting Championship - based in South Africa - as well as Ares Fighting Championship have proved that Africa is capable of playing host to professional mixed martial art circuits.
The EFC has been around for more than a decade putting on high-quality productions and has constantly produced some of the world’s biggest MMA athletes including current UFC stars Dricus Du Plessis (South Africa), JP Buys (South Africa), Don Madge (South Africa) and Dalcha Lungiambula (Democratic Republic of Congo).
More global stars including the likes of Max Holloway have become very vocal about seeing Africa get its chance.
This weekend the “Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru - now fighting out of Boca Raton in Florida, defends his belt for the third time against Brazilian and former friend and training partner, Burns.
Kamaru seeks to continue his dominance and further spoil his beautiful daughter with bonus money after beating Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington in his last two fights respectively.
Usman is now tied with all-time great Georges St-Pierre for the longest winning streak in the UFC Welterweight class (12). The strong jiu-jitsu practitioner and heavy-handed Burns is riding a six-fight winning stream and time will soon tell if all those hours in the gym with Kamaru will help unlock the wrestling, striking and grappling prowess of the latter.
Catch all the action on your channel of champions, SuperSport on Sunday morning.
Prelims will start at 3am on SuperSport Action, Maximo and Variety 3 while the Main kicks off at 5am on SuperSport Action, Maximo, Grandstand and Variety 3.
The rest of the card:
- Former The Ultimate Fighter winner and No. 9 ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum (16-6, 1 NC, fighting out of Yuma, Ariz.) squares off with No. 15 ranked Ian Heinisch (14-3, fighting out of Englewood, Colo.)
- Top 10 bantamweights hope to steal the show as No. 8 Pedro Munhoz (18-5, 1 NC, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla. by way of Sao Paulo, Brazil) rematches No. 9 Jimmie Rivera (23-4, fighting out of Ramsey, N.J.)
- Jim Miller (32-15, 1 NC, fighting out of Sparta, N.J.) and Bobby Green (27-11-1, fighting out of Fontana, Calif.) collide in a clash of lightweight veterans
- Middleweight submission ace Rodolfo Vieira (7-0, fighting out of Orlando, Fla. by way of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) intends to remain undefeated when he battles Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Anthony Hernandez (7-2, fighting out of Dunnigan, Calif.)
- No. 13 ranked welterweight Belal Muhammad (17-3, fighting out of Chicago, Ill.) takes on Dhiego Lima (17-7, fighting out of Atlanta, Ga.) in an exciting veterans bout
- In a featherweight bout guaranteed to deliver action, Ricky Simon (17-3, fighting out of Vancouver, Wash.) makes a quick turnaround to face Brian Kelleher (22-11, fighting out of Selden, N.Y.)
- Gillian Robertson (9-5, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla. by way of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) competes for the third time in five months when she locks horns with Miranda Maverick (10-2, fighting out of Suffolk, Va.) in an intriguing women’s flyweight bout
- Welterweight Gabe Green (9-3, fighting out of Downey, Calif.) plans to spoil the UFC debut of Dana White’s Contender Series signee Philip Rowe (7-2, fighting out of Ocoee, Fla.)
- Middleweight knockout artists clash as Maki Pitolo (13-7, fighting out of Makaha, Hawaii) matches up with Julian Marquez (7-2, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.)
- Polyana Viana (11-4, fighting out of Sao Geraldo do Araguaia, Para, Brazil) attempts to maintain her impressive 100 percent finishing rate against Dana White’s Contender Series signee Mallory Martin (7-3, fighting out of Brighton, Colo.)