Kamaru Usman, UFC Welterweight champion, is set to return to Nigeria for the first time since he left the country for the United States 26 years ago.
The mixed martial artist, who is to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday, will be launching a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project in Edo state. The 34-year-old, who left Nigeria when he was just 8-year-old, had hinted about his trip back to the country after brutally knocking out Gilbert Burns in Las Vegas on February 14.
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Though, leaving Nigeria when he was yet a child, Kamaru has never lost sight of his Nigerian and African roots and the expectations therein. The champion was noted for always making his fight entrances brandishing the Nigerian flag in both hands while dancing to the beat of Nigerian Afropop.
His rallying cry of ‘Africa unite!’ and his nickname, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ pretty much tells you where his allegiances always lie. Though the nickname was trademarked by Nigerian-born NFL star, Christian Okoye, Usman seems a more appropriate representation of the name seeing how he has destroyed every challenger in his path.
He has also extended his winning streak to 14 after defeating Jorge Masvidal in April – making history as the longest-ever holder of a win-streak in Welterweight division.
The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ is expected to touch down in Abuja on June 10 before stopping over at Lagos state.
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He will then proceed to Edo state where he will kick start a community activation plan in the state.
Kamaru also takes great pride in being the first-ever UFC champion from Africa and never misses an opportunity to explain how privileged he is to have that legacy.
He confirmed his visit in a short statement on Twitter, saying;
“I’m coming home”.
Fellow Nigerian and middleweight champ, Israel Adesanya, and Cameroonian and heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou have since joined him as African champions and Kamaru holds these achievements in very high regard.
Kamaru explained that the visit is long overdue because he was only a child the last time he was in the country. He expressed;
I looked at my passport and realised I hadn’t been home since I was a kid, that’s when I knew it was time.
The Edo-born professional mixed martial artist recount his childhood experiences in Nigeria, recalling how his mum who was a school teacher also owned a shop and how they had to farm to grow the food they eat.
He also remembered having to walk several miles with his grandmother to fetch water from a well, stressing that “most people may not understand that”.
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Fresh from destroying his latest challenger, Jorge Masvidal with a punch that reverberated across the world, the Nigerian Nightmare is widely regarded as pound-for-pound the best fighter in UFC.
With 4 title defences under his belt already, Usman has the longest winning streak in UFC welterweight history with 14 wins. He also ties for the most win percentage in UFC with a 100% win record.
Photo Credit: Getty