He may be many kilometres away, but one could sense Tafon Nchukwi’s excitement when asked about #UFCAfrica.
In an exclusive interview with Independent Media and MzansiMMA, Bamenda Cameroon’s Tafon “Da Don” (5-0) – who faces South Korea’s Junyong Park (12-4) this weekend at UFC Fight Night (RODRIGUEZ vs. WATERSON) – could not contain the joy of fighting in his homeland after his family moved to Hyattsville, Maryland in the United States of America back in 2005.
“Hey, lol, this is something that all the African fighters are excited about,” said the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight with glee.
“When I heard Dana (White, UFC President) said that, man … I was so excited.”
The UFC president recently confirmed that the company plans to host its first African event in 2022, an inevitable move considering the amount of African champions (Nigeria’s Middleweight champion and Welterweight champion, Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman, respectively, and Cameroon’s Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou).
The continent, too has a growing list of rising UFC stars which include the likes of South Africa’s Dricus du Plessis, Don Madge and JP Buys, as well as the DRC’s Dalcha Lungiambula to name only a few.
Tafon made his intentions very clear about making the card: “Right now, I am just paving my way to be able to get on that card, that is going to be one of the biggest cards ever, UFC Africa. I am definitely going to try and make sure I am on that card.”
Tafon fights in the same division as Dricus (1-0 in the UFC), Dalcha (2-1 in the UFC) and Ghana’s Abdul Razak Alhassan (4-4 in the UFC) – who recently moved to Welterweight, too.
When asked if he would be keen on fighting one of his fellow African brothers, Tafon was not very keen, but fully understands that this is the fight game and it is bound to happen, sooner or later.
“I wouldn’t like to compete against them as early as this, but eventually we are going to have to meet, so if it comes down to it, we are going to have to do it.
“But I would say that I wouldn't prefer that to be the case. But we are here to fight and should we meet, we are still shining the light on our great continent (Africa).
Tafon’s fellow countryman, Francis recently brought the house down after beating Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight title, a feat that bodes very well for all African fighters, especially for those fighting out of Cameroon. Some people have even mistaken Tafon for Francis, but he chooses to see the good in it.
“Oh yes, Francis’ win was a big connection and shone a big light for us all,” says Tafon.
“A lot of people were even hitting me up (calling him) and asking me if I saw the fight … people from my country as well.
“People even mistook me for him at times. In the build-up to Francis’ fight with Stipe, I was getting lots of text messages saying: ‘Good luck with your fight.’
“And I would be like: ‘I am sorry, that is not me’.
“I was confused. But when he won, it definitely made more people take note of the sport, and more people became aware of our fighters out there, so it’s a good thing,” he added.
If you would like to catch UFC Fight Night, it will be broadcast live on SuperSport tomorrow morning from 12am through to 5am on Variety 3, Action, GrandStand.