A round of the Ultimate Fighting Championship should be staged in Africa by the end of next year, UFC president Dana White has said.
Speaking ahead of Kamaru Usman’s fight with Jorge Masvidal in Jacksonville, Florida, White – who runs the mixed martial arts organisation – said that while he did not know in which country it would happen, the fact that there are three UFC champions from the continent meant it was now time.
Since UFC 001 was held in Denver, Colorado, in 1993, events have been held in countries including the Czech Republic, South Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi – but never anywhere in Africa.
“If I had to guess [when a round in Africa will happen], I’d say 2022,” White told BBC Sport Africa.
“I don’t know which country yet. I don’t even know where we’re going in the States yet – how this whole [Covid] thing plays out, what opens up, what doesn’t – but that’s my game plan.”
Welterweight champion Usman is known as the Nigerian Nightmare. Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya was also born in Nigeria, while heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou comes from Cameroon.
“When you have champions from certain countries, they ignite that country,” White said.
“Growing up, I was a huge boxing and Muhammad Ali fan. One of the things that I’ve always wanted is to do my big ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.
“I’ve not done it yet, but now that we have three African champions, I really believe it’s going to happen.”
White also praised Usman, who is ranked second in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
“I love Kamaru Usman,” he said.
“I think he’s well-rounded, I love the way he goes in, the way he fights, his mentality – he’ll fight anybody.
“He’s a great champion.”