Israel Adesanya and the Rise of African Fighters in the UFC

Published 06/10/2021, 12:46 PM EDT
ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 13: (L-R) UFC President Dana White places the interim middleweight championship belt on Israel Adesanya after defeating Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision in their interim middleweight championship bout during the UFC 236 event at State Farm Arena on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Israel Mobolaji Temitayo Odunayo Oluwafemi Owolabi Adesanya, known to the world as Israel Adesanya, is a Nigerian-born New Zealand professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer and boxer. Adesanya, who is one of the biggest fighters from Africa, is well-known for working towards uplifting his fellow Africans.

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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – SEPTEMBER 27: Israel Adesanya of Nigerian is interviewed after defeating Paulo Costa of Brazil in their middleweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on September 27, 2020, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Along with his countryman Kamaru Usman and Cameroonian fighter Francis Ngannou, he is bringing about an African revolution to the UFC. All of them are champions in their respective weight classes and look invincible in every sense of the word.

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While Adesanya hasn’t lost a fight yet at middleweight, Usman is undefeated at welterweight in the UFC. Both of them have been asked questions about a possible fight, and both of them have scoffed the questions away. They are brothers, and brothers don’t take each other’s glory away.

Meanwhile, Francis Ngannou has been tearing it up in the heavyweight. He recently beat the greatest heavyweight of all time, Stipe Miocic, and dominated him. The performance has raised multiple questions for the UFC, the primary of them being who should fight him.

Israel Adesanya believes that once Africans get a taste of MMA, it’ll be a wrap

The trio carry the mantel of representing their beautiful continent with the utmost honor. Every time one fights, the other two are almost always there to support him.

In a recent interview with The MacLife, Oscar Willis asked Adesanya if an African revolution is starting in the world of MMA. The Nigerian’s response was instant.

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It’s happening. I said this a while ago. Find the clip. Find the interview. I said, like 50 Cent when he dropped ‘In Da Club,’ and then he shut down the rap game for like six to eight years. I told you guys, once Africans get a taste of MMA, they’re gonna realize like, ‘Shit, I can be great at this, not just football.’ It’s gonna be a wrap,” he answered.

He’s defending his title again on Saturday in the main event of UFC 263. While his opponent Marvin Vettori has had his own journey, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to stop Adesanya. He has the hopes of a nation, an entire continent, on his shoulders.

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Those shoulders haven’t given way before, and they don’t like withering anytime soon. Adesanya is not doing this for himself. He’s doing it for those kids in his continent that look to the sky and dream of making their people proud. For the time being, those kids have the perfect role model to look up to.

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Aniket Awasthi

424 articles

Aniket Awasthi is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. This STEM undergraduate combines an insatiable urge to write with his admiration for MMA and the UFC in general to enhance his journalism. He calls charismatic names like Chael Sonnen and 'The Count' Michael Bisping as his favorite fighters, but he is a great admirer of the rise of Israel Adesanya ever since he fought Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221.

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