If the Ultimate Fighting Championship is looking to tap into new markets then they should look no further than Africa, according to UFC middleweight contender Kamaru Usman.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” was a guest on the recent episode of “The MMA Hour” and when asked about the UFC exploring opportunities in Africa, Usman was confident it would be a success and that the event would easily sell out a stadium.
“Absolutely. And this is one thing I want to highlight as well. Great job to Darren Till. He’s really done a great job with the platform he’s been given. But you put him in Liverpool. The guy from Liverpool that you put there, that’s excelling, that’s doing well now. You trying to tell me, you don’t put me in Nigeria…or not just me, you put me, Francis, Israel, Razak anywhere in Africa, we will do a stadium. We do a stadium easy. Anywhere in Africa, we do a stadium easy.”
Usman believes the UFC may be hesitant on bringing a card to Africa due to what he calls false perceptions that depict the entire continent of Africa as poverty-ridden and therefore not worth the investment financially.
“We’re not really popular there because the sport hasn’t really tried to venture out. Because a lot of people see Africa as, oh, it’s a third-world [continent], oh, there’s no money there. But how can you say there’s no money there? Diamonds come from there. Gold comes from there. The only issue is that the money is there, but only a few people hold on to the money. So you’ve got half the percent that has the money, and then everybody else is living in poverty because they never let the money trickle down. But there’s money there. But they don’t see that opportunity. So they don’t see that opportunity. So, ‘why even market there? It’s a third-world country. We don’t care,’ things like that.” But we do a stadium easy.”
Usman provided an example to host Ariel Helwani for fans that may be sceptical about the idea that Africa is a viable market for the sport:
“I mean, George Foreman and [Muhammad] Ali were willing to do that. And they went, and look how that turned out.”