Spending his early years in Nigeria, it wasn't until his teenage years that Israel Adesanya had even thought about pursuing a career in mixed martial arts.

The profile of the sport was nonexistent in the African nation during his time there, but it's something he and fellow Nigerian-born UFC champion Kamaru Usman are hoping to change.

Adesanya, the UFC's interim middleweight champion, and welterweight titleholder Usman have embraced their Nigerian roots in a very open manner on the world stage and, now that they're champions, they plan to show the nation what is possible.

After Adesanya's title bout on Sunday in Atlanta, the pair had a quick chat about linking up for a trip to Nigeria in the near future.


"I just told him 'look, they've taken a lot of gold away from Africa, it's time we take gold back to Africa'," Adesanya said. "We're going to take these golds back to Nigeria and flex on them; let them know we're out here."

Usman said it was a trip he had already been planning on making, and having both titleholders make the journey over would only do more for the sport.

The major sporting codes like football, the country's national sport, and basketball were the most popular when Adesanya was growing up, but to see two world champions of Nigerian heritage would open more than a few eyes to the potential in mixed martial arts, Usman believed.

"It's going to raise the profile big time," he told the Herald.

"This is a sport that we can all do. This is not something that requires going overseas for a higher education or things like that, it's something for all. For us to both go back and show them that, hey, you can be victorious and be a champion in this, it's going to be huge."

Since it was established in 1993, the UFC has never taken an event to an African nation. It's something that Usman believed wouldn't take much work, and with the likes of featherweight Sodiq Yusuff (Nigeria) and heavyweight Francis Ngannou (Cameroon) also rising through the rankings, that could come sooner rather than later.

"Israel goes out and does his job, Francis is on the cusp of it; it's inevitable," Usman said.

"I mean, we have tons of Africans now in the sport that are making big strides, so it won't take much."