As promised, Nigeria’s Sodiq Yusuff lived up to his pre-bout boasting after a stunning first round knockout win over Gabriel Benitez in one of the under-card bouts of the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the Honda Centre, Anaheim, California, USA yesterday.
The Nigerian fighter in his pre-interview with THISDAY last week promised to make an impression after getting the opportunity to compete on one of the biggest UFC pay-per-view cards of the year.
It was mission accomplished as the Nigerian-born featherweight put the Mexican fighter to the floor with a stunning TKO in 4:14mins into the opening round of their fight at UFC 241.
“It’s a blessing to fight on this card,” Yusuff said following the TKO win. “I’m Nigerian baby, I’m built for struggle. This is what we do.”
As soon as he was released from the corner, Yusuff was marching forward and throwing heat behind a right hand that clipped Benitez repeatedly. A cut opened up on the side of Benitez’s left eye as Yusuff was still flurrying with his combinations.
The onslaught definitely had Benitez backing up early but he turned things around midway through the opening round with a powerful counter punch that stunned Yusuff and sent him to the canvas for a moment.
The punch only served to wake Yusuff up as he abandoned the overly aggressive game plan and instead started setting up his own counter shots.
The payoff came with less than a minute remaining as Benitez plowed forward and Yusuff came back with a devastating right hand that sent the American Kickboxing Academy fighter crashing to the mat in a heap.
Yusuf followed up with a few more punches and hammer fists before the referee rushed into stop the contest before Benitez could endure any more damage.
The TKO victory moves Yusuff to 10-1 in his career with a perfect 3-0 resume thus far in his young UFC career.
He considered it an honour to fight on the UFC 241 main card, and with those kinds of performances, Yusuff will likely find himself in a similar spot again in the future.