Are you wondering who the best Nigerian UFC fighters of all time are?
In this article, we’ll look at the 5 best Nigerian UFC fighters of all time by going through their records, titles, skills, and opponents they’ve beaten and lost to.
Best Nigerian UFC Fighters
In order of the best, here are the 5 best Nigerian UFC fighters in the promotion’s first 30 years of operation.
1. Israel Adesanya – ‘The Last Stylebender’ (24-2)
Height: 6’4” | Reach: 80” | Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Middleweight
Israel Adesanya’s a two-time UFC middleweight champion with 5 successful title defenses. Adesanaya was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but moved to New Zealand at 10 years old and has resided there ever since.
His martial arts career started in kickboxing where he tallied a 32-0 amateur record before a 75-5 professional record. In that time, he won three King in the Ring tournaments, the 2016 Glory Middleweight tournament, and challenged for the Glory Middleweight Championship.
Adesanya has since dominated in MMA, where his main skills are:
- The most elite kickboxing skills in MMA today – no opponent can match him in the striking department
- Excellent takedown defense so he can keep fights in his realm
- Understanding and control of range which he uses to pick opponents apart and land powerful, nontelegraphed counters
- Supreme technique, power, and precision with his striking – scoring 16 knockouts and 8 decision victories in 24 wins
- Tunnel vision, focus, and composure in the fight
- Equally impressive in both southpaw and orthodox stances
He had the confidence and talent to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title, but unfortunately not the weight to prevent Jan’s takedowns and top control.
However, he’s beaten the likes of Alex Pereira, Marvin Vettori, Yoel Romero, Anderson Silva, Jared Cannonier, Paulo Costa, and Robert Whittaker twice. Overall, Israel Adesanya’s by far the best Nigerian UFC fighter of all time and quickly driving towards becoming the all-time great UFC middleweight.
2. Kamaru Usman – ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ (20-3)
Height: 6’0” | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
Born in Auchi, Nigeria, Kamaru Usman is one of the top 3 UFC welterweight champions of all time. He fought to a 5-1 MMA record and entered the UFC by winning TUF: Season 21 in 2015. He continued winning and became the first African UFC fighter to win a title after beating Tyron Woodley in 2019.
He went on to win 15 consecutive UFC fights, one behind the record of 16 set by Anderson Silva, ended by Leon Edwards. Before MMA, Kamaru Usman was an elite wrestler, becoming an NCAA Division II All-American and NCAA Division II All-American
Kamaru Usman’s main attributes and skills are:
- One of the UFC’s all-time great wrestlers – he has an average of 3 takedowns per 15 minutes and a 97% takedown defense in 17 UFC fights
- Strong and precise jab
- Champion-level composure and focus
- High levels of cardiovascular endurance which he pairs with wrestling and constant forward pressure to drain his opponents mentally and physically
- Huge size for a welterweight translates to being stronger than every opponent
He’s beaten Leon Edwards, Sean Strickland, Rafael Dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley, Jorge Masvidal, Gilbert Burns, and Colby Covington twice – literally every contender in the division.
3. Kennedy Nzechukwu – ‘The African Savage’ (12-3)
Height: 6’5” | Reach: 83” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Born in Imo State, Nigeria, Kennedy Nzechukwu is one of the most exciting UFC fighters in the world today. Kennedy entered the UFC after winning on Dana White’s Contender Series 1 & 2 and has since gone 6-3 in the UFC.
He’s trained at Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas, under Sayif Saud since 2015 when his professional career began.
So far in his UFC career, Nzechukwu has shown the following skills.
- Great heavy top control despite being so tall
- Not the fastest striker but he has high power and long reach with his boxing, especially his jabs and hooks
- Exceptional takedown defense (80% in 9 UFC fights)
- The comeback king – he somehow becomes extremely dangerous after getting hurt
- Powerful knees, well-timed against wrestlers shooting for takedowns
- Granite chin and durability – he defends with a high guard to block a lot of shots
Despite a few stutters due to inexperience, Kennedy Nzechukwu has beaten high-level competition such as Karl Roberson, Ion Cutelaba, Carlos Ulberg, and Devin Clark.
He’s also been criticized as a slow starter, which is something he’s trying to remedy, but nevertheless, he’s very exciting and has the potential to become a UFC light heavyweight champion.
4. Sodiq Yusuff – ‘Super’ (13-2)
Height: 5’9” | Reach: 71” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Super Sodiq Yusuff became a US citizen in 2019 and earned a UFC contract in 2018 after his win on Dana White’s Contender Series.
His MMA journey started in Brazilian jiu-jitsu where he trained under Lloyd Irvin (and still is), a highly skilled 4th-degree black belt with many notable students such as Dominick Cruz.
Sodiq Yusuff has shown in his career to have the following skills.
- Powerful striking is his main weapon
- Heavy top control on the ground because of his jiu-jitsu and how huge he is for a featherweight
- Outside low kicks to set up punches
- Tremendous boxing technique and fluid combinations – 6 knockouts in 13 wins
- Decent takedown defense but a great ability to pop back to his feet if taken down
- Strong front choke position where he looks for guillotines, anacondas, and D’Arce chokes
- Controls the octagon with forward pressure and high cardiovascular endurance
- Highly durable – he has the ability to take hard shots and recover well
As talented as Sodiq Yusuff is, his why is also much stronger than most of his opponents. He’s been fighting to support his family and fund their move to America, and he’s also lost two brothers since his UFC career started in 2018.
He’s beaten the likes of Alex Caceres, Andre Fili, and Sheymon Moraes. He also fought brilliantly against Arnold Allen and outstruck him on significant strikes by over double, but lost due to the key knockdowns landed by Allen in rounds 1 and 2.
He’s fought to become the #12 ranked featherweight and is a future UFC featherweight contender.
5. Hakeem Dawodu – ‘Mean’ (13-3)
Height: 5’8” | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
Hakeem ‘Mean’ Dawodu was born in Calgary, Canada, to a Nigerian mother. His nickname comes from his time spent in a youth detention center and his angry nature. He was sent to train in Muay Thai aged 16 as a way to channel his aggression.
Hakeem loved Muay Thai and went on to score a 42-5 amateur record and a 9-0 professional record, as well as various titles and a gold medal at the 2010 IFMA World Championships.
Since joining the UFC in 2017, Hakeem Dawodu has shown the following skills.
- Excellent fundamentals and technique
- Great energy efficiency with his movement and techniques
- Outstanding Muay Thai skills – especially with his use of knees and elbows in the Muay Thai clinch
- High aggression and power in his strikes – 7 knockouts and 6 decisions in 13 wins courtesy of his striking
- One of the strongest featherweights on the roster – he has a huge size and cuts around 20 lbs to make 145 lbs
- Composed and focused with solid striking defense – keeps everything tight and controlled
So far, Dawodu has beaten Julio Arce, Zubair Tukhugov, and Michael Trizano, while losing to the very talented Julian Erosa and undefeated Movsar Evloev. He can be a future featherweight contender if he adds more kicks to his game, but regardless, he’s already one of the best Nigerian UFC fighters of all time.