THE UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION ISRAEL ADESANYA IS A TATTOO OF THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

Nigeria, the country where he was born, is outlined in black ink. The champ, now 30 years old, has spent the last two decades of his life in New Zealand, but this tattoo is an indica- tor of his inexorable ties to his homeland. “I stamped my chest with my bloodline,” he says proudly. “When you look at my chest, you see where I come from: the great continent of Africa and the great country of Nigeria.”

Adesanya, along with defending welter- weight titleholder Kamaru Usman, is one of two Nigerian-born champions in the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts brand. He has drawn comparisons to Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Ronda Rousey and might already be the biggest star in MMA at present. Yet Adesanya could be much more than that. He could be the harbinger of an era of African dominance in MMA.

All over the African continent, smaller MMA promotions are thriving. In South Africa, Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) is enjoying huge success—to the tune of 15.4 million unique viewers on television in 2019 alone.

In Senegal, ARES Fighting Champion- ship recently promoted a successful debut event. In Nigeria, African Warriors Fighting Championship (AWFC), is taking a unique approach to fight promotion by showcasing MMA alongside traditional Nigerian combat sports like kokowa (Ni- gerian wrestling), and dambe (Nigerian boxing).

The rosters of these fight promotions are populated by a long list of African hopefuls, all of whom hope to emulate the success of UFC superstars like Usman and Adesanya

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