Max Holloway is excited to see more African fighters in UFC
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CAPE TOWN - Former UFC Featherweight champion and Number One contender, Max “Blessed” Holloway is excited to see more African fighters on the UFC stage.
With the growth spurt in African Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC’s acquisition of so many new athletes from the continent - Dricus Du Plessis (South Africa), JP Buys (South Africa), Don Madge (South Africa) and Dalcha Lungiambula (Democratic Republic of Congo) - including non-African-based athletes such as Sodiq Yusuff (Nigerian-American), Heavyweight top contender, Francis Ngannou (Cameroonian-French), Kamaru Usman (Nigerian-American) and Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya (Nigerian-born New Zealander), Holloway feels that stars such as Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman investing into promotions on the continent can have a huge impact on a hot-bed such as Africa brimming over talent.
“For sure (it is important). These are guys (African athletes) that you want to see fight,” says the Waianae, Hawaii-born Max (21-6) speaking to MzansiMMA and IOLSport.
“Not only do you want to see these naturally-gifted athletes fight, but they want to fight, too. So it would be amazing to see more fighters from Africa come through,” says Holloway - who is not personally involved in any of the much-loved Hawaii MMA promotions on a business level, however, has built his career on fighting in brands such as Destiny. It is also well-documented that he attends the shows when the “Blessed Express” is in town.
The UFC is yet to land on the MotherLand (Africa) in terms of shows or Performance Institutes, and there are no guarantees of it happening just yet despite the huge talent pool or UFC President, Dana White’s hinting at the idea of building gyms in Africa on social media.
Speaking to the South African-based BigAlPodcast, Extreme Fighting Championship matchmaker, Graeme Cartmell stated that they are encouraging fighters with star power to get involved in one of the biggest MMA promotions on the continent - the EFC. On the podcast, there were also talks of the EFC approaching guys like Israel (Adesanya) to help build African MMA which could become an even bigger stage for the sport with the right investment.
The EFC brand (which has been home to many international and African fighters who have moved on to sign with bigger promotions such as Bellator, One Championship and the UFC) has been speer-heading quality South African-based MMA productions for years before falling on financially-troubling times that were compounded with the subsequent lockdown and the strain it has brought on the economies of the world.
However, the brand is working hard to get it’s Hexagon doors open (possibly in March, 2021).
This Saturday, Holloway will try and maintain his Number One Contender status - following two losses against now-champion, Alexander Volkanovski - when he takes on number six ranked, Calvin Kattar on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi (UFC Fight Island 7) in the main event. This will be Max’s first non-title fight since June, 2016, when he overcame Ricardo Lamas.
It’s also a big moment for the UFC as they - in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi - will be welcoming a limited number of fans back into the arena since the Covid-19 pandemic came into full effect.
The action will be available on SuperSport tonight on #GrandStand #Action and #Variety from 10pm (SAST).
Co-main event: Michael Chiesa meets Neil Magny (Welterweight bout)
Carlos Condit meets Matt Brown (Welterweight bout)
Santiago Ponzinibbio meets Li Jingliang (Welterweight bout)
Joaquin Buckley mets Alessio Di Chirico (Middleweight bout)
Punahele Soriano meets Dusko Todorovic (Middleweight bout)
Wu Yanan meets Joselyne Edwards (Bantamweight)
Phil Hawes meets Nassourdine Imavov (Middleweight)
Omari Akhmedov meets Tom Breese (Middleweight)
Carlos Felipe meets Justin Tafa (Middleweight)
Nik Lentz meets Mike Grundy (Featherweight)
Jacob Kilburn meets Austin Lingo (Featherweight)
Sarah Moras meets Vanessa Melo (Bantamweight)
David Zawada meets Ramazan Emeev (Welterweight)