clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Israel Adesanya still hoping to headline UFC Africa in 2023: ‘Game ain’t over’

Despite losing two of its three African champions, Israel Adesanya thinks UFC should still stage a big event on the continent.

Could Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) finally be coming to Africa in 2023?

Following UFC 279 in September, UFC President, Dana White, revealed his fight promotion had plans on bringing the sport to the world’s second largest continent in the near future.

“We literally had a meeting the other day, and we’re seriously talking about Africa now,” White said. “We’re starting to look at venues and cities to hold an event. Africa is going to happen very soon.”

You know the saying: strike while the iron is hot. And while the iron isn’t quite as hot after Kamaru Usman dropped his Welterweight title in August and Israel Adesanya lost the Middleweight crown in November, the impact of UFC having three African champions still makes the whole thing worthwhile. At least in the eyes of “The Last Stylebender.”

Asked on The MMA Hour if UFC Africa was too late with two of the “Three Kings” no longer crowned, Adesanya disagreed.

“No. F— no,” he said “F— the belt. Come on, man. We’re us. It’s us. What we’ve done is still etched in history forever. There’s moments in history that will never, ever be — also, it’s not over. But, like I said, there’s moments in history that will never be captured again. That will never be replicated again, and I am very proud to say I was part of that. Or, I am part of that, because we’re still writing the book. This ain’t over. Game ain’t over.

“I thought it was game over, but I guess we put in the coin again and play again,” he added.

Adesanya is realistic about the inherent difficulties in bringing a big show like UFC to Nigeria, where he spent the first 10 years of his life.

“We can do it. I just ... I know my people,” Adesanya said. “Too much greed, too much red tape, and too much corruption. But, money talks, and the UFC has a lot of money. I’m being honest. I love my people, but the government? My people are beautiful people, but the government can be corrupt. Very corrupt. If they see dollar signs, it’ll be ‘OK, we need this and that.’ I don’t know how all that s— works, but trust me. Growing up in Nigeria, money talks.”

UFC certainly has a lot of money, but it didn’t get rich by spreading it around. These days, the organization is used to states and countries paying them to bring the show to town. As it stands now, there’s not even a great location to hold the show itself. Not a problem, though, according to Adesanya.

“We can build [an arena],” he said. “My people will.”

If not an arena, there are certainly stadiums UFC could fill. With or without belts, Adesanya, Usman and Francis Ngannou are still kings to their fans in Africa. Just one or two on a card in Nigeria would undoubtedly result in a 35,000+ sellout.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania