While 2021 was a particularly good year for them, Francis Ngannou, Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya, the three biggest African MMA stars, had a complicated year in 2022.
December 11, 2021 will be unforgettable for Kamaru Usman. The Nigerian was named that day ''best MMA fighter of the year''. A title amply deserved. The native of Auchi in Nigeria had just made three victorious title defenses by dominating the Brazilian Gilbert Burn as well as the Americans Jorge Masdival and Colby Covington. But after these three glorious successes, Usman had to stop for a while and have surgery on his wrist. This kept him out of the training room for many months.
Kamaru Usman made his return to the octagon on August 20, 2022 for a new defense of his light heavyweight title. Unfortunately, he suffered a resounding K-O from Leon Edwards in the final seconds of the match when he seemed to be leading on points. His compatriot Israel Adesanya experienced the same scenario. The Last Stylebender took a terrible K-O from Brazilian Alex Pereira in the 5th and last round while he was in control of the fight. The 31 year old Nigerian lost his middleweight title. Unlike Kamaru Usman, Adesanya had at least fought and won two fights earlier in the year.
Africa's third MMA star, Francis Ngannou, is still holding on to his championship crown. He had indeed managed to dominate the French Cyril Gane in January 2022. But after this success, he had health problems and differences of opinion with the leaders of the UFC. The Cameroonian had surgery on his knee and is still recovering. If Gane was able to return to the octagon and sign a new success, Ngannou must still wait. There is talk of a probable return in March 2023. He will therefore remain more than a year without fighting.