Ngannou, Usman and Adesanya: African Fighters Are Dominating the UFC

While the UFC is largely an American organization, UFC fighters come from all over the world. In the past, American fighters dominated the organization, but that’s starting to change. Indeed, nowadays, the UFC is a more diverse organization than before. In fact, three current UFC champs all hail from Africa

Diversity is good for business

Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman pose for a post-fight portrait backstage during UFC 236
UFC fighters Israel Adesanya (L) and Kamaru Usman after UFC 236 | Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Some form of MMA takes place in pretty much every culture. However, until recently, the UFC has only worked with fighters from a handful of countries. In an effort to find talent from around the world and attract international audiences, the UFC began recruiting the best fighters from anywhere they could find them. 

As a result, current great UFC fighters hail from across the world, including Mexico, China, Poland, and New Zealand. The UFC isn’t just investing in those fighters either, as the UFC is also hosting events in many countries. These events not only do good business for the UFC, but they also inspire future generations of fighters.

Three of the most inspiring stories, however, hail from Africa, reports Talk Sport. In two short years, three African fighters have become champs in their own divisions. Not only that, but they have, practically speaking, dominated everyone along the way.

The three African UFC champs

The first African UFC champ was Kamaru Usman, who was born and raised in Nigeria before moving to America as a kid. He was on a 13-fight win streak when he challenged Tyron Woodley for the 170-pound welterweight title in early 2019. Usman had dominated almost every single one of his opponents before this fight, and that’s exactly what happened as well. Since winning the belt, Usman has fought four more times, and he’s won every time.

The second African UFC champ wasn’t a huge surprise for fans. Israel Adesanya, who was also born and raised in Nigeria before moving to New Zealand as a kid, was undefeated with a 17-fight win streak. In late 2019, he challenged the champ, Robert Whittaker, for the 185-pound middleweight belt. Just like every single one of Adesanya’s previous fights, he dominated his foe. Since then, he’s remained undefeated in his weight class. 

The third and most recent African UFC champ was a bit of a surprise for fans. Francis Ngannou was born and raised in Cameroon. He immigrated to France for a chance at a better life. Ngannou dominated many of his opponents. But the UFC’s 265-pound heavyweight champ, Stipe Miocic, destroyed him when they fought in 2018. They rematched in 2021, and Ngannou showed how much he improved by knocking Miocic out cold. 

Where else are UFC fighters coming from?

Those three African champs completely dominate their divisions, but many future UFC champs may actually hail from the Caucasus. The Caucasus is not a country but rather a region in Asia and Europe that sits between Russia and Iran. Some countries or regions that are a part of the Caucasus include Armenia, Georgia, and of course, Dagestan. 

Dagestan is the birthplace of one of the UFC’s greatest champs ever, Khabib Nurmagomedov. But he didn’t join the UFC alone. Many of his family members and teammates now compete in the UFC, and they are all high-level fighters. It’s not just Nurmagomedov’s influence either; other great Caucasian fighters, like Khamzat Chimaev, have risen in the UFC while not being related to Nurmagomedov in any way.

Interestingly, Chimaev competes at welterweight and at middleweight. As such, if he continues to win fights, then it may not be long before he’s challenging either Usman or Adesanya for the belt.

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