Exclusive: Sodiq Yusuff Reacts to Sean Strickland’s Shocking Win Over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293: ‘This Sport is Insane’

Yusuff shared his thoughts on Adesanya's loss to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 and his minset going into his first UFC main event on October 14

Sodiq Yusuff
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Nigerian standout Sodiq Yusuff will look to make it three straight when he steps into the Octagon for his first main event with the promotion on October 14.

A winner in eight of his last nine matchups, Yusuff has established himself as one of the promotion’s most promising featherweight fighters. He’ll look to build on the momentum of back-to-back wins against Alex Caceres and Don Shainis when he meets respected UFC veteran Edson Barboza in a Fight Night headliner next month. 

Speaking with James Lynch in a MiddleEasy exclusive interview, Yusuff was asked for his breakdown of the fight and how he sees things playing out. 

“Everybody’s been asking for me to make a professional breakdown, but I’ve been advised that it’s in my best interest, joke or not, to stay far away from making a professional breakdown about the fight, but you already know that we’re both looking for a finish,” Yusuff said. “It’s a 25-minute fight, but I don’t think either one of us is spying on making it that far just because of the way we both fight.”

His bout with Barboza will be the first time Yusuff has stepped into the Octagon for a five-round fight. Asked how he believes his conditioning will hold up in the later rounds, ‘Super’ is planning to take a wait-and-see approach. 

“This is a first for me so the conditioning, it changed stuff like my bike rounds it changed and how we schedule practice changed, but to be honest, it’s one of those things where I’m confident that I’m gonna be okay, but experience is everything,” Yusuff added. “I gotta get in there to feel it. I always keep it real. I’ll find out when I get there.”

Sodiq Yusuff is Ready to Shine Under the Main Event Spotlight

Despite his impressive 6-1 record under the UFC banner, Sodiq Yusuff’s name rarely comes up when talking about the featherweight division’s most intriguing prospects. Much of that has been due to a lack of activity through no fault of his own. Injuries and issues finding a suitable opponent will have kept ‘Super’ on the sidelines for more than a year by the time he makes his return in October.

“I feel like because of the injuries and the way matchmaking was going, people kind of forget about me a lot and that’s one of those things where every once in a while somebody will say something on Twitter like, ‘Oh sh*t, it’s Sodiq Yusuff,’ but now we have a main event spot,” Yusuff said. “All eyes on me and it’s super cool, man. It’s one of those things where I wish I had a time machine so I could show my younger self. This is what I’ve always dreamed of and now it’s happening.”

His main event clash with Edson Barboza could prove to be a pivotal moment for Yusuff. The bout will be the second to last fight on his existing contract. If ‘Super’ goes out and gets a big win against a veteran in his first main event, it could mean an even bigger payday for Yusuff when it comes time to renew.


Yusuff Comments on a Tumultuous Two Months for Israel Adesanya

Of course, Lynch couldn’t let Yusuff go without getting his take on Sean Strickland’s stunning unanimous decision victory over Israel Adesanya to claim the middleweight world title at UFC 293. 

“Man, this sport is insane,” Yusuff said when asked about Strickland’s shocking win. “Somebody literally asked me who did I have. Of course, I had Izzy, but after I saw [Dricus] Du Plessis knock out [Robert] Whittaker, I’m like… I’m done pretending to know what’s gonna happen in this one. It’s fist fighting and random things happen all the time.”

Speaking of Adesanya, Lynch wanted to get Yusuff’s take on the drama that unfolded over the last few months between ‘The Last Stylebender’ and the middleweight division’s top-ranked contender, Dricus Du Plessis. Previously, ‘Stillknocks’ suggested that he would become the first truly African UFC champion, noting that he was born and raised in South Africa while Adesanya left Nigeria for New Zealand at a young age.

Those comments led to a racially charged interaction between Adesanya and Du Plessis at UFC 290 in July.

Hailing from Nigeria himself, Yusuff suggested that Du Plessis was out of line with his comments, particularly when you consider the disturbing history of colonization of African countries. 

“Very touchy. Of course, I didn’t like it at all. I’m also an immigrant and a lot of us left our country because we needed a better opportunity elsewhere,” Yusuff explained. “So whenever you hear somebody talking like that to people that have to leave… To be honest, Nigeria was kind of decimated by colonization, so hearing somebody from South Africa talk about that, it’s very tricky. I don’t think there’s anybody that would be okay with that.

“Somebody asked me if it would have been okay if Francis [Ngannou] said something like that. No, but I know somebody like Francis wouldn’t because his country is in a similar position that we are. So you gotta ask yourself, if you’re in his position, why do you think you’re able to thrive in your country when the rest of us aren’t? That’s how you get your answer.”

Watch the full interview below:

Published on September 19, 2023 at 8:12 pm
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