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Two Nigerian fighters, Adesanya, Usman rule world of martial art

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Israel Adesanya


Barely two weeks after a Nigerian fighter, Israel Adesanya defeated Brazilian legend, Anderson Silva in an MMA battle in Melbourne, Australia, another Nigerian, Kamaru Usman, at the weekend, dealt a heavy blow on his American opponent, Tyron Woodley, in an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contest in Las Vegas.

While 29-year-old Israel Adesanya hails from Odogbolu in Ogun State, 31-year-old Kamaru Usman is from Auchi in Edo State. Adesanya resides in New Zealand with his parents, and his victory against the Brazilian two weeks ago in Melbourne boosted his MMA record to 16-0, which includes five victories inside the famed Octagon. He is now slated to fight Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 for the interim-UFC middleweight title.

Adesanya, who used to be a pro kickboxer, is a stand-up machine and famous for his kicks and elbows. He also owns an 80” reach.In the early hours of Sunday, Kamaru Usman emerged the first African fighter to win a UFC title after defeating his American opponent, Tyron Woodley across all five rounds to get a winning decision from the judges in the mixed-martial arts (MMA) bout.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the biggest competition in MMA, where athletes combine boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and other disciplines while fighting in an octagonal cage. Usman, known as the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’, produced the performance of his career to dominate long-reigning welterweight champion, Woodley in the battle of Las Vegas. The Nigerian has extended his winning streak to 14 and maintained his unbeaten record in the UFC.

Woodley is widely known as the greatest welterweight of all time, but Usman was able to showcase his talent and snapped Woodley’s unbeaten streak to become the first Nigerian born champion, four years after joining the UFC.In his post-match press conference, Usman revealed that before the match, he had fractured his foot and had been walking around in a supportive boot all week.

He started off the press conference by greeting journalists in Arabic before switching to Pidgin. “Nigeria, I have told them, we would do it, I told them we never fail. And we have done it today,” he said in Pidgin.Usman was born in Nigeria, but left Benin City for Arlington in Texas as a young child when his family migrated to the US. He resides in Dallas.

Twenty-three years later, he is proud of his nickname, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’, he told BBC World Service’s Sportsworld. But he is not the only sportsman known as the ‘Nigerian Nightmare.’Usman invited two others with the nickname to his match against Woodley at the weekend–the former heavyweight boxer Samuel Peter and the former Kansas City Chiefs American Football, Christian Okoye. Usman, a former winner of the Ultimate Fighter TV show, began wrestling at high school in Texas and was a top prospect throughout college.

“It was kind of time to make a switch and not just be a wrestler any more, but to be a fighter and to go and make a living for not just myself but my family as well,” he told Sportsworld. Usman, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was about eight years old. After compiling a 53–3 record in high school wrestling, Usman’s wrestling career took off after transferring to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
 
He earned NCAA Division II All-American honors all three years he attended and helped the school win its first-ever overall team title in 2008. In his senior season, he won the 2010 NCAA Division II national title at 174 lbs. In addition, he was also a member of the University World Team for wrestling in 2010. Usman is one of five Africans in the UFC and it presents the perfect arena to showcase his talent. He joined the elite level in 2015, and since then, the Nigerian has slowly worked his way up the ranks from rookie to title challenger in the space of just a few years. His rise has brought attention from some friends in high places.
 
In September 2018, Usman was penciled in as the backup for a fight between Woodley and English challenger Darren Till amid fears that Till would not make the weight required to fight in the division. Usman said he went on a grueling training camp and a strict diet to prepare for the potential fight, but in the end, the fight never happened as Till made the weight just a day before his bout with Woodley, which he (Till) eventually lost.

Usman was disappointed he didn’t get the chance against Woodley but said: “I believe in fate. I believe in karma. Maybe God wanted me to get it a certain another way, but I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure that I’m a champion.”The opportunity finally came on Sunday morning, and Usman achieved his ultimate UFC goal as he dethroned Tyron Woodley (one of the game’s best wrestlers) to win the welterweight title. His perfect octagon record continued with a one-sided decision victory over Woodley (19-4-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) to claim the 170-pound title.
 
“I might not be the best striker, I might not be the best wrestler, but when it comes to mixing it up, there’s no question I’m the best welterweight on the planet,” Usman said after the victory.With the victory, Usman improved to 15-1. He has won 14 in a row, and is 10-0 in the UFC.

 

 


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