Three African fighters, Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman and Francis Ngannou have made history in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) by holding the topmost position in three different divisions at the same time, embossing the image of the continent on the world globe.
Currently, Israel Adesanya from Nigeria is the world’s middleweight champion. Another Nigerian, Kamaru Usman is the current welterweight champion whilst Francis Ngannou, a Cameroonian has emerged as the new heavyweight champion after a dramatic 2nd round knockout of his opponent, Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 to claim the title.
One admirable thing about the victory of Ngannou which completed the history was the Ubuntu spirit displayed during the fight against Stipe; the Nigerian welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman was in Francis Ngannou’s corner, providing support on the fight night; a typical African spirit of love and support for one another.
His gesture did not come as a surprise as he earlier made it clear in an interview with BBC that, “every time there’s an African, I strive to get that closeness and create that bond and let them know that you have a community of people around you. Together, we can make this thing humongous in our continent. I bleed Africa so if there is a fighter from Africa automatically I am on their team.”
This rise by the continent in the UFC was earlier predicted by Israel Adesanya. In an interview prior to his fight at the UFC 243, he stated that, “every so often there’s always a legion of a certain part of the world that starts making a come-up in MMA…I’m telling you, once the Nigerians pull up, once we start to pull up with numbers, it’s going to be over for a lot of years in the MMA world.”
The feat this three have achieved for the continent is very rare in the UFC and the first for Africa; for this reason, Francis has called on the UFC to honor their collective achievement; “I think we deserve at least one open event to honor us you know, it is in Africa wherever it is in Nigeria or in the Cameroon.” He said in an interview with Ariel Helwani.
The UFC has so far recognized the three champions on its official social media handles; in a recent post, the UFC described the champions as “KINGS” with their respective positions stated but many people hold the view that a special ceremony must be held in recognition of these champions.
Another unique thing worth noting is their willingness to return to their roots to celebrate their victories with their people and touch lives positively; Usman affirmed in an interview that, “we all want to be able to go back and touch those people over there and let them know, hey, even though we are over here, we’re doing our best to give back and carry our flag to the highest place that we can.” Currently, the new king, Francis Ngannou is back to his home country, Cameroon to celebrate with his people.
This history has since been celebrated by Africans worldwide; many people have taken to social media to express their joy and pride in the champions with hope for a long term dominance in the game; it is a good time to be African!