Over the years, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has gained popularity across the African continent, and MMA tournaments have launched careers for the new breed of African fighters. South Africa’s Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) amassed about 15.4 million unique viewers on television in 2019. Also, in the same year, ARES Fighting Championship took place in Senegal where 20 international fighters took the ARES Arena and new talents made themselves known to the world. In Nigeria, African Warriors Fighting Championship (AWFC), is taking a unique approach by showcasing MMA alongside traditional Nigerian combat sports like kokowa (Nigerian wrestling), and dambe (Nigerian boxing).
On the global stage, at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), there are many African fighters hoping to emulate the success of UFC superstars like Usman, Adesanya, and current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Francis Ngannou. One of such athletes is Loveth Young, the only female Nigerian competing at the top level in the MMA tournaments. Nicknamed the “Nigerian Terminator”, Loveth is a policewoman fighting crime by day, and steps into the ring at night to take on any opponent. According to Loveth Young, since childhood, fighting has always been a mode of survival.
“When I was little, a lot of people tried to bully me because of my stature and having had this acid burn. When I was five, I suffered a severe acid attack. I faced face discrimination, I faced depression. Most people in my age group didn’t want to partner with me because of my severe burn. They kept calling me ugly, all sorts of names. Because I was lonely, a lot of people tried to fight me, so my fighting career started from there,” she disclosed in an interview with BBC News. Loveth is a 25-time kickboxing champion, a national boxing, and wrestling champion as well. She looks forward to joining the list of powerful African warriors at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).