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Can Sodiq Yusuff's electric style get him in title talks this weekend?

Sodiq Yussuf chats to training partners after an intense training session. Photo: Goodys World

Sodiq Yussuf chats to training partners after an intense training session. Photo: Goodys World

Published Mar 10, 2022

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Cape Town — Nigerian-born Sodiq Yusuff (11-2) grinned from ear-to-ear when asked about fighting on Pay-Per-View cards.

The exciting fighter was let loose on two money-spinner cards shortly after debuting in the Ultimate Fighting Promotion, an impressive feat considering the high-level and amount of athletes from around the world that compete in the UFC.

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Shortly after a successful Dana White Contender Series campaign, Yusuff dove into the deep waters of the UFC roster. His first two fights were so impressive that he was given a chance to shine on the UFC 241 (Stipe v Cormier 2) Pay-Per-View card before a mega opportunity on a Conor McGregor card which saw the global superstar take on Donald Cerrrone at UFC 246.

Both events saw Yusuff deliver electric performances with two wins to boot.

His last fight, unfortunately, saw him endure his first defeat in the promotion’s UFC: Vettori v Holland Fight Night card in April last year.

That loss, along with the thrill Yusuff gets from fighting on big events, will be a huge driving force to see him deliver this weekend and grab UFC president White and his colleagues’ attention to allow the Nigerian to shine on the Pay-Per-View stage again.

“Getting that exposure to the Pay-Per-View events so early was really cool,” said a smiling Yussuf after being told his style is electric.

“I think it was a natural progression. Like you said, when people watch me fight, it’s not hard to be entertained, I just naturally bring an entertaining style. And even from the get-go, when I was an amateur I always found myself on a good spot on all fight cards because people would know that when they see me fight they’re going to be very entertained. So the Pay-Per-Views coming early was not anything surprising.

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"Even when it was not on the Pay-Per-View cards, I was always on the top notch, like I am this week,” said the Lagos-born athlete who now fights out of Bladensburg, Maryland in the United States of America.

Pay-Per-View events are huge money drawers for the UFC as it enables viewers to pay to watch individual events via a private telecast. All high-profile UFC events are done via Pay-Per-View which usually then sees the big draw cards/fighters get a cut from the total earnings of that model.

This Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Santos v Ankalaev, the 12th-ranked Yussuf could secure a return to a Pay-Per-View card when he faces Alex Caceres (19-12, 1 no contest) in a featherweight fight that could also open big doors for both athletes in terms of their rankings.

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Caceres, a veteran in the UFC, has been on a tear recently, racking up five wins on the trot, climbing the rungs of the featherweight division after having some mixed results early on.

With two contrasting styles, it will make for an interesting match-up considering Yussuf’s love for the stand-up art will be up against Caceres’ clear appreciation for the grappling and submission side of mixed martial arts.

The main event will see hard-hitting light heavyweight contenders’ in the form of fifth-ranked Thiago Santos battle No 6 Magomed Ankalaev, while the co-main event sees No 10 ranked bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes try and stop the momentum of fourteenth-ranked Song Yadong.

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The fight card will also see the DRC's Dalcha Lungiambula, 11-3 (fighting out of Cape Town, South Africa) face USA's Cody Brundage (6-2), while another African in the form of Cameroon's Tafon Nchukwi (6-1) takes on Azamat Murzakanov (10-0).

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@juliankiewietz

IOL Sport

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