Mixed martial arts is one of the most watched sports in the world. It might not compete with soccer in popularity, but it’s still one of the top disciplines loved by viewers, athletes, and bettors alike. The rise of the sport involved many fighters from all over the world, showing incredible results.
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In our article, we plan to describe the most impressive modern UFC fighters from Africa. There are three of them, and interestingly, despite being born in Africa, all of them now represent different continents. We will look at each fighter’s career and describe the most critical moments of their biographies.
Before you start reading the article, we must remind you that we won’t cover anything about sports betting here. If you want to learn more about how to place wagers on UFC fights, check other resources. For example, this Betika page covers canceling a bet on the platform.
Born in Cameroon, started his career in France and now resides in the US. Ngannou is a fighter whose entire biography is a wild ride. He spent his childhood in poverty, started working at 10, and decided to train for boxing at 22. Only a few years later, at 26, he decided to move to Paris, where he was homeless, before meeting Francis Carmont, who saw potential in him. And yes, this is just the beginning of this incredible “rags to riches” story.
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Now, let’s check out how his fighting career started and his rise to success. He spent a few years in French promotions before debuting in the UFC in 2015. He went a few fights with impressive wins, especially in one of his highest-profile fights—the one against Alistair Overeem—that Ngannou won with one of the most brutal knockouts in history.
His first UFC loss happened in 2018, three years into his professional UFC career. It was when he fought against Stipe Miocic. It was followed by another lost fight half a year later—this time, against Derrick Lewis.
The fights after that were largely successful, with Ngannou becoming a heavyweight champion of UFC in 2021. He defended the title successfully once but was stripped of it after he and UFC couldn’t agree on the contract terms in 2023. After that, Ngannou signed a contract with PFL in May 2023, becoming one of the few fighters to leave UFC on top of his belt. He hasn’t yet fought the PFL.
Considering his fighting style, we can say one word: “fun.” It was never dull, even in the less exciting fights of his career. He’s also pretty good at knockdowns!
Born in Auchi, Nigeria, Usman is another UFC fighter of African origin. His family immigrated to Dallas, Texas, when he was eight. He started training in wrestling when he was a teenager. Eventually, he became a local champion and had a serious fighting career, even planning to join the Olympic Team in 2012 as a freestyle wrestler. The plans didn’t work, so Usman turned to MMA after being a successful wrestling coach for some time.
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He debuted as a UFC athlete in 2015 and had a nine-fight winning streak before facing Tyron Woodley in 2019, a UFC welterweight champion at the time. Usman also won this fight, becoming the new holder of the title. He defended it successfully five times before ultimately losing it to Leon Edwards in 2022.
Speaking of Usman’s fighting style, many consider it to be “quiet” and restricted. But his technical skills are impressive, and he managed to be a highly watched fighter, even breaking some viewership and attendance records in the past.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1989, Adesanya is the youngest fighter of the bunch. His family moved to New Zealand when he was 10, and he wasn’t interested much in sports and martial arts as a high school student, even though he briefly attended taekwondo classes in his childhood.
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He started training in kickboxing at the age of 18 while studying at the university and managed to have a thriving local career, having an amateur record of a 32:0 winning streak. After that, he started fighting professionally and spent some time in China before returning to New Zealand.
He was primarily a kickboxer while trying MMA for a bit in 2012 and 2015 before fully transitioning into the sport. He signed a contract with the UFC in 2017 and had a successful winning streak, mainly becoming victorious by decision, even though he won one fight with a technical knockout.
He became the UFC middleweight champion in 2019 and managed to defend his title five times and keep it for three years before losing it to Alex Pereira in 2022. He took the title back from Pereira in a rematch in 2023 but lost it half a year later to Sean Strickland.
Adesanya is great at using his frame and height as an advantage. Standing at 193 cm tall and with a long arm reach, this fighter is also great at changing his stances and using his legs actively, thanks to his experience as a professional kickboxer.
The UFC is an international league and has champions from all over the world. Our article looked at the most powerful fighters from the African continent. Two of them are of Nigerian origin, and one is of Cameroonian descent.
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We described the careers and fighting styles of each in this mainly informative article that aims to be educational for those unfamiliar with the UFC. This text can be an excellent introduction for those who want to know more about the UFC’s African champions.