Israel Adesanya on possibility of UFC Africa despite losing title: ‘F*** the belt. Come on, man. We’re us. It’s us.’
Israel Adesanya said it’s not too late for the UFC to go to Africa.
At UFC 281, Israel Adesanya lost his middleweight title to Alex Pereira. It was the second time in 2022 that one of the “Three Kings” lost a belt after Kamaru Usman dropped the welterweight title to Leon Edwards at UFC 278. With heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s UFC future up in the air having completed his current contract, the idea of UFC Africa event appeared to be on the rocks. However, following UFC 281, UFC President Dana White was adamant he is “so focused” on making UFC Africa happen, and Adesanya agrees that despite having two fewer belts at the moment, UFC Africa still needs to happen.
“No -f*** no,” Adesanya said on The MMA Hour when asked if it was too late to do it. “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.”
The biggest blocker to UFC Africa, according to White, is determining a venue. White revealed the UFC is primarily looking at Nigeria as the host nation for the event, but he is unsure whether they will need to build an indoor arena or simply use an outdoor stadium. But Adesanya, who was born in Lagos, believes Nigeria could offer more complications than just venue.
“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.”
As the most populous country in Africa, Nigera would seemingly make the most sense for the UFC’s debut event in Africa; a host of current UFC fighters are of Nigerian descent, including both Adesanya and Usman, And despite Adesanya’s concerns about the other difficulties in making an event take place there, “The Last Stylebender” is confident that if the UFC comes, the country will build a venue to house it.
“We can build one,” he said. “My people will.”