Africa’s fast-rising MMA athlete, Israel Adesanya, says he is not feeling the pressure as he face Brazilian legendary Anderson Silva in UFC 234 in Melbourne with an aim of confirming his status as sport’s next superstar. DStv has promised to bring the fight to Nigerian viewers. The action will be broadcast from Melbourne, Australia tomorrow from 05:00 CAT on SS6 – the official ‘Home of UFC’ and SS11.
Unbeaten in 15 visits to the octagon, four of them in UFC, Nigeria-born Adesanya faces the most formidable opponent of his career this time.
“Silva brings experience as the longest reigning champion with the best active win streak in UFC history. Plenty of people are counting him out because of his age (43), but Randy Couture was champion aged 45. Older fighters are often dangerous fighters.”
Despite having lived in New Zealand since his teens, the Lagos-born Adesanya still considers himself a son of the African soil. He says he proudly wears a tattoo of the continent on his chest and, after his landmark career win against Brad Tavares in Las Vegas last year, he addressed his fellow countrymen in his native tongue, Yoruba.
“I just want to say something to my people, my fellow Nigerians, what’s happening? What’s up? I am here beating my opponents silly,” he teased.
With Adesanya having won four straight UFC outings in under a year, the international MMA community has picked the Nigerian as a can’t-miss future superstar. “You have one of your own in UFC and I’m happy to share the love,” he said from Melbourne, a city he deeply enjoys, chiefly on account of its good food.
He and Kamaru Usman, a fellow Nigerian who is on the cusp of a crack at the UFC welterweight championship, are bringing it hard for the continent, even to the point of campaigning to bring the biggest MMA franchise to Africa. The pair met for the first time this week.
“There’s something calling me back home to Nigeria,” he said. “My plan is to go to Africa, Dubai and maybe Abu Dhabi after this weekend. Of course, we can bring UFC to Africa. I’m predicting that UFC’s first show will take place in Africa in 2020.”
“I don’t feel pressure as a star in the making. I’m one of the fastest-rising guys in the whole [UFC] company. Not everyone is ready for this, but to me, it’s another day in the office. If it were in Brazil, it would be the same stuff, different day. Walking to the cage, I don’t care where I am. I use the occasion to boost my will. But it feels good to be near home. “This is definitely the biggest fight of my life, one for the history books. Coming through, I didn’t expect him to still be around, but I have to fight him, to create my legacy,” Adesanya stated.