MMA, also known as Mixed martial arts, is a popular and well-loved sport considered a favorite amongst many, in and out of Nigeria.
Everyone has their favorite stars that belong to their country, and just like in other sports, there are Nigerians in the MMA.
Here’s a brief look at the Nigerians who are dominating the UFC.
Nigerians in the MMA
Sodiq Olamide Yusuff
Nicknamed “super”, Sodiq was born in 1993 to a polygamous family. He relocated to the United States of America at the age of nine, along with his mother and younger brother.
Sodiq began fighting because of his love of anime and superhero movies. He made his MMA debut when he defeated Alvin Mercer. Surprisingly, he won against his next three opponents, including Chuka Willis and John Ramirez.
He is determined to be one of the great champions, even though he is new to the UFC world.
An indigene of Imo state, Kennedy moved from Nigeria to the United States in 2010. His mother brought him to Fortis MMA in 2015 to learn discipline, and shortly after, he started a career in Mixed Martial Arts.
He turned professional after two straight victories in the Xtreme Knockout organization. This star also competed in Dana White’s Contender Series.
His record is very impressive, as he has won over 11 matches out of 14, making him one of the most impressive Nigerians in the MMA.
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Although Hakeem is not fully Nigerian, we are still proud of him!
The 31-year-old MMA fighter was born to a Nigerian mother and a Jamaican father who was raised in Canada. He had a troubled childhood as his father was deported, causing his mother to raise him on her own. He was placed in a juvenile detention center at the age of 14.
His career in fighting started when his counselor placed him in Muay Thai training as a means of controlling his anger.
He has faced a lot of important names in the MMA world. This man has won nine matches without any losses. His nickname is “mean”, and he definitely looks it.
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Isreal was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and is the eldest of five children. His journey in fighting started when he enrolled in Taekwondo after classes, although, his mother pulled him out when he sustained a serious injury.
He later moved to Ghana when he was ten. His parents insisted that he have an education. He wasn’t even interested in fighting in school but loved anime, especially Death Note. His nickname, The Last Stylebender, is a spoof of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Isreal also mentioned that he was bullied when he moved to New Zealand. Guess that’s one of the reasons he picked up fighting professionally.
That did not keep him down as this 33-year-old is the most high-profile Nigerian in the MMA world. The Muay Thai film Ong-Bak inspired Adesanya to take up kickboxing when he was 18. For his kickboxing career, he has 75 wins out of 80. In his professional boxing, he has six wins.
He’s the current UFC Middleweight Champion and is #3 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings. He is the GOAT and everyone knows it.
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Lovethpatra Young (Nigerian Terminator)
Lovethpatra is a 25-time kickboxing champion from Rivers state, Nigeria. Only recently joining the UFC, she has three wins, one loss and one draw under her belt.
Competing in the strawweight division, Lovethpatra is an example to everyone after having to fight through discrimination as a kid. She had severe burns as a kid and had to cope with kids wanting to fight her. She claims her fighting career started from there.
This talented man was born in Auchi, Nigeria, and raised by his mother, a teacher, and his soldier father. He relocated to Texas, Dallas at the age of 10 and originally played football until an injury ended his career.
After high school, this welterweight continued his wrestling career at William Penn University in Iowa before transferring to the University of Nebraska. He won the NCAA Division II title in 2010, and former NFL player Christian Okoye gave Usman his nickname, the Nigerian Nightmare, after seeing him perform.
Usman became a fan favorite while fighting in the Ultimate Fighter competition; he won a match against Hayde Hassan, earning a six-figure UFC contract. He has won over 20 matches and continues to dominate the UFC. We can expect more years of knockout from him!
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Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani
Yeah, I know; you were probably expecting Anthony Joshua. Anthony Njokuani is a Nigerian-American Fighter originally from Enugu state. With seventeen wins, thirteen losses and no draws, he has had a pretty balanced career.
Ajagba was born in 1994 in Ughelli, Delta state and started boxing in 2011 after playing football. He was selected to compete for the Nigerian team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, with Anthony Konyegwachie as his coach.
Ajagba also represented Nigeria as an entrant in the men’s super heavyweight event for the 2015 African Games held in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. He won the gold medal at the competition.
On August 24, 2018, Ajagba scored the fastest victory in boxing history in a match against Curtis Harper. This is probably where he got his nickname “silent roller” from!
Andy Ologun was born in the year 1983. He is all in one; a professional boxer, mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and actor. Not many people know that he is the younger brother of television personality and mixed martial artist, Bobby Ologun.
He holds a notable K-1 kickboxing win over Takayuki Kohiruimaki and a win at Dynamite!! 2010 against former pro baseball Yokohama DeNA.
Henry Fadipe (Nigerian Lion)
Born in Lagos, Nigeria. Henry Fadipe is a Middleweight UFC fighter with thirteen wins, nine losses and one draw.
Nigerians in the MMA: Conclusion
We bet you beam brightly when you see Nigerian MMA stars are making it. They are making us proud out there. We have other stars like Cornel Thompson, Emmanuel Onyedikachi, Daniel Emeka Eze, Henry Fadipe, Anthony Njokuani, Mohammed Usman, Emmanuel Onoja, Micheal Ikenna, Montè Deon Ogbonna-Morrison and much more.
These stars may not live in Nigeria currently, but they never forget their roots.