KEY POINTS

  • BRAVE CF is the only major MMA promotion to hold a card in Africa
  • UFC president Dana White reveals it has been his dream to hold a UFC card in Africa
  • The pandemic has forced the UFC to stay within its borders for now

Mixed martial arts (MMA) made its grand debut on the sporting stage in 1993 thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The road to being seen as the purest sport available to man hasn’t been easy for the Las Vegas-based promotion because it faced so much backlash in its early days, even being compared to human cockfighting due to having no rules.

But after working with government officials and different governing bodies in each state in the United States, MMA has found a home and would go on to become one of the most popular sports in the world today.

From the dark ages to now, the UFC has held over 500 shows in its existence, helping build the legacies of legendary fighters from the likes of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Georges St-Pierre, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell to fan-favorites such as Clay Guida, Chris Leben, Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson and Diego Sanchez.

However, for all their exploits, the UFC has yet to step foot in the great continent of Africa.

UFC president Dana White was speaking  to the media after last weekend’s UFC 265 card and admitted that it has always been his dream to host a card in Africa.

“Provided everything goes right, I would love to do a fight in Africa. To be honest with you, my whole life, I’ve always dreamt of doing [a fight card] in Africa. I’ve always wanted to do it. So yes, that will be a big one, and another monumental moment in my life,” he said.

The region has produced some of the promotion’s best fighters including heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya and welterweight kingpin Kamaru Usman.

“I stamped my chest with my bloodline,” Adesanya told Ozy when talking about one of his very noticeable tattoos. “When you look at my chest, you see where I come from: the great continent of Africa and the great country of Nigeria.”

ONE Championship crowd shot ONE Championship held a live event at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines. Photo: ONE Championship

ONE Championship has also yet to go beyond Asia since its inception in 2011, but the Singapore-based promotion has been hinting at a card in the United States for some time now.

However, one major MMA organization has been able to break through in the African region and that’s BRAVE Combat Federation.

The Bahrain-based outfit has hosted three cards in the region so far: Morocco in August 2018 then twice more in December of 2018 and 2019 in South Africa.

There has been no news yet as to when BRAVE CF will be returning to Africa any time soon as the focus is on growing its market in Europe and Asia, but the door is very much open for a fourth African card.

BRAVE CF President Mohammed Shahid BRAVE CF President Mohammed Shahid at a BRAVE CF live event. Photo: BRAVE CF

It’s expected that more and more promotions will follow in BRAVE CF’s footsteps in the coming years, and it may lead to an even bigger boom in the African MMA scene.