CAPE TOWN – Former EFC lightweight champion Don Madge could debut in the world’s biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion as early as April, after it was announced on Tuesday that he has signed for the UFC.
The Cape Town resident has no fight lined up with the Las Vegas-based promotion as yet and has not been pencilled in on a particular card, but will not have any shortage of opportunities as the UFC is set to host 16 events throughout the rest of 2018.
“I don’t know right now, but my management team has said that it could be April,” Madge said, when asked about when he could potentially make his debut.
Madge will also have no shortage of potential dance partners, as the lightweight division is considered to be one of the UFC’s most talent-stacked – with names like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor to name just a few.
“No idea. Whoever they give me, I will prepare for and be ready when the time comes,” Madge said of his potential opponent.
“I will definitely be a lightweight contender. I don’t see anything in my near future about going up to welterweight. I was sort of thinking about it before my last weight, but I think lightweight is where I belong.”
The UFC is set to host three cards in April, with two already featuring mega clashes in the lightweight division.
UFC 223 will see Ferguson and Nurmagomedov battle for the vacant strap (last owned by McGregor) on April 7 in Brooklyn, New York, with several other lightweight standouts – including former champion Anthony Pettis – on the undercard.
On April 14 in Glendale Arizona, fan favourites Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier clash on UFC on Fox with potential number one contender status on the line. A week later on April 21, UFC Fight Night 128 will take place at Atlantic City, New Jersey. Fight Night 128 seems like Madge's most likely destination, as the card currently has just six confirmed bouts.
Since I started my MMA career, this has been my dream to sign with the @ufc - today I realized that dream!! I’m very proud to say that I am officially a UFC athlete. Thank you to everyone that has supported me from day one. This has been a crazy ride so far, can’t wait to show off my skills in this next venture 🔥 ➖➖➖ Thank you to @efcworldwide for all the years of support and promotion. You’ve given many guys just like me the opportunity to showcase their skills. ➖➖➖ #MMA #UFC #MagicMan #KnowYourWhy #QuanDeathSquad #CoachQuan #YoungSavage
A post shared by Don Madge (@donmadgemma) on
An appearance at either event will see the marketable 27-year-old become one of the most famous faces in African MMA, with the UFC already seemingly intend on making inroads in the African market.
Cameroon’s Francis Ngannou became the first African to headline a major UFC card in January when he failed to dethrone Stipe Miocic as the heavyweight king.
Lagos-born, New Zealand-based Israel Adesanya became the most recent African to debut on MMA’s biggest stage on at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia on Saturday when he eased to a TKO win over local Rob Wilkinson.
It is not yet known if the promotion intends to host an event in Africa in the near future.
The step up to the UFC means Madge has relinquished his EFC lightweight title and will no longer defend the belt against England’s Gavin Hughes at EFC 68 in Cape Town in March.
Instead, his Fight Fit Militia (FFM) training partner and former welterweight champion Martin van Staden will step in.