The UFC has held the title of best fight promotion in the world for years. But a formidable competitor looms on the horizon, and it's a force to be reckoned with. The PFL has massive financial support, Francis Ngannou and a desire to push the UFC off the throne. One of the PFL's main trump cards was to hold its first tournament in Africa and create a separate line of business for residents of the continent. But the head of UFC Dana White is unlikely to let anyone beat his brainchild and he has certainly prepared a response.Bet on MMA with 1xBet
In this Telecomasia.net article we will tell you why the UFC tournament may take place in Africa in the near future, who of the strongest promotion's fighters can get into the card of the potential event and much more.
The rise of a powerful competitor can lead to decisive action
In January 2023, heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou scandalously left the UFC. Although White tried to keep the Cameroonian and promised him crazy money. The UFC did not hold tournaments in Africa, and it was crucial for the athlete. This served as one of the reasons for his departure. White did plan to hold an event in Africa, but he couldn't give any guarantees about the dates. “The Predator” didn't hesitate too long, he slammed the door and left.
In May 2023, Ngannou signed an exclusive contract with the PFL that included performing in the promotion's new "Super Fight Division," the opportunity to fight under the boxing rules, and most importantly, the league made Ngannou the chairman of the new African branch of the PFL and promised that he would come to Africa in 2025. Plans are ready, but there are no definite dates yet.
White is a hard-nosed businessman and is used to proving that the UFC is the best league in the world. But the PFL, along with Ngannou, are gaining momentum: there are rumors of a €500 million purchase of Bellator. The organization expects to host "super fight division" tournaments in 2024, with Jake Paul, Ngannou and Kayla Harrison already there, and recently they were joined by absolute world boxing champion Savannah Marshall and another world boxing star Amanda Serrano. Plus, the PFL could become the first major league to hold a tournament in Africa.
The PFL really has great chances for success and some serious investors. In late August, it was reported that a Saudi Arabian investment company SRJ Sports Investments acquired a minority stake in the PFL mixed martial arts league for $100 million.
The sheikhs' financial capabilities are a force to be reckoned with. Few believed that Karim Benzema, Neymar, Sadio Mane and other stars of world football would be playing in this year's Saudi Arabian Football Championship. However, Dana White is not bothered by competition:Bet on MMA with 1xBet
What am I thinking about Saudi Arabia giving money to the PFL to beat the UFC? There's been plenty of people that have opened up the checkbook to be a competitor. It's not about money... As I sit back, being in this for 23 years, I watch everything that is done wrong. One of the big things (Donn Davis) said is that they pay more than the UFC, which is absolutely, positively not true. But, I do see them waste unbelievably amounts of money. It's about a lot more than money.
But while White is publicly trolling the PFL, laughing at their possible $500 million acquisition of Bellator, he's already got a plan to eliminate the insolent competitor, depriving it of one of its biggest advantages.
The head of the UFC talked about the tournament in Africa in 2022
In September 2022, UFC President Dana White noted that the organization was working on hosting the first African tournament in history. At the UFC 279 post-fight press conference White said:
We literally had a meeting the other day, and we’re seriously talking about Africa now. We’re starting to look at venues and cities to hold an event. Africa is going to happen very soon.
While a tournament in Africa has yet to happen, it's unlikely that White will give up on the idea of taking the league to the next level and expanding the geography of the tournaments. After all, in this case Dana can safely declare that the UFC had an event on every continent, and they will also get to Antarctica someday.
Besides, Dana will be able to "thumb his nose at Ngannou", showing him that the UFC can hold a great tournament in Africa without his star presence, and most importantly - faster than others. While the PFL is feeding Francis with sweet promises, the UFC can start to implement what they have in mind.Bet on MMA with 1xBet
The pandemic has retreated and it's time to expand borders
White is interested in expanding geographically. Since 2014, the UFC has consistently held 12 to 20 tournaments outside of the States - in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Russia, Australia, Germany and so on. But in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and the UFC's expansion paused a bit.
Thus from 2020 to 2022, the best promotion in the world organized only 20 tournaments outside the U.S., most of them on "Fight Island" in the UAE. But in those days, the sporting events were canceled one after another, and the fact that White could put together cards at all is a huge accomplishment and a stroke of luck. You've got to admit, he UFC president did great back then.
In 2023, the league will hold nine tournaments outside the U.S., and the geography is quite extensive - Australia, England, Brazil, France, UAE and Singapore. The league is evolving and is slowly healing in the aftermath of the pandemic. It's time to explore the new markets, and Dana White has an unusual and much-anticipated destination in mind.
Who can be on the UFC card in Africa?
If Israel Adesanya defends his belt at UFC 293 against Sean Strickland, Dricus Du Plessis will be next in the title queue. The South African dreams of fighting "The Last Stylebender" on the African continent, as the two fighters have previously clashed over "who is more African". Adesanya himself doesn't mind coming to South Africa or Nigeria to punish the impudent fighter.Bet on MMA with 1xBet
However, we need to be honest and admit that the probability of a numbered UFC tournament with a title fight is very low. But this is not the case with the Fight Night event, most often held outside the U.S.. And it will be easy to put together a powerful card, because the promotion has enough fighters of African descent.
The tournament may be headlined by the promotion's former welterweight champion and former P4P ranking leader Kamaru Usman. "The Nigerian Nightmare" could be joined by his brother Mohammed.
Chidi Njokuani is another African who has Nigerian ancestry. Native Africans who have competed in the UFC include Manel Kape (Angola), Cameron Saaiman (South Africa), Ange Loosa (Congo), and David Onama (Uganda).
We shouldn't forget about Themba Gorimbo, a humble guy from Zimbabwe whose life story looks like a Hollywood tale. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson gifted the fighter a house, and Colby Covington helped him with food. Now Gorimbo has around 330,000 followers on Instagram.
Where and when can the UFC hold its first ever African tournament?
The UFC can bring a tournament to the African continent as early as in 2024, but where can it be held?
Extreme Fighting Championship, the fight promotion where Du Plessis won the championship, holds tournaments at Carnival City Casino near Johannesburg. Dana White also noted that the Dakar Arena in Senegal, with a capacity of 15,000 spectators, meets the UFC's requirements.Bet on MMA with 1xBet
The PFL is desperately trying to compete with the UFC, but so far it's nothing but talk. PFL founder Donn Davis says his creation is just as good as Dana White's organization, but who will they bring to fight in Africa, aside from Ngannou? The question is rhetorical. And while the PFL is only picking up the pace, White can get ahead of them and tap into a new market, further reaffirming the UFC's dominance in the mixed martial arts field.