As a result of Nigeria’s second-rate socio-economic climate, citizens over the decades have migrated in mass to countries all over the world in search of greener pastures.
With better set-up, many of these Nigerians have gone on to achieve greatness, away from the eyes of their compatriots back home.
This weekend, on Friday, July 6 precisely, Israel Adesanya a Nigerian-New Zealander mixed martial artist announce himself to Nigerians.
His announcement hit home as he delivered it in Yoruba and Pidgin English after his win by unanimous decision over Brad Tavares in a UFC-TUF 27 finale.
“I just want to say something to me people, my fellow Nigerians, what's happening? What's up? I am here beating my opponents silly,” he said in Yoruba during his post-match interview at the Pearl Concert Theater in Las Vegas.
“I dey cause whahala but I nor be whahala,” he said in Pidgin English.
“I am not angry. I am not angry at all. You know I'm here representing. Do you know my age? Do you know my name? My name is Israel, Moboloaji, Temitayo, Odunayo, Oluwafemi, Owolabi Adesanya. I am here. Fuck with me now. Recognise. Brave like a lion,” he continued in Yoruba.
To drive home is his message, Adesanya used a now popular Nigerian phrase, “Sho Mo Age Mi Ni,” a Yoruba sentence which translates to ‘do you know my age’ which has become very popular after a viral comedy skit.
Adesanya, although a decorated kickboxer was still somewhat untested as a mixed martial artist before his fight against Tavares on Friday.
“You heard it here first: The Israel Adesanya hype train ends tomorrow night against Brad Tavares. @ufc never should’ve made such a dangerous fight for Israel this soon Tavares by TKO, round 3,” a Twitter user @philthemmadude said before the fight.
Also called ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya answered his doubters as he picked Tavares apart for the better part of 25 minutes and was the winner by unanimous decisions.
His brash post-fight interview generated reactions on Twitter Nigerians as Nigerians hailed the new break-out star.
“Best thing I’ve seen all day #IsrealAdesanya Sho Mo Age Mi Ni,” the handle @KayteeBartows tweeted with a clip of Adesanya’s announcement to Nigerians.
“Israel Adesanya beats American Brad Tavares in Ultimate Fighter finale in Las Vegas. He's repping 9ja to the bone!,” @bimbolovesmusic also said with a video clip of Adesanya speaking Yoruba.
American-born rapper Wale who is of Nigerian descent also gave Adesanya a shout-out on Twitter after the win.
Adesanya was born in Lagos but moved to New Zealand with his parents. Although he left Nigeria at the age of 11, the now 28-year-old is very much in touch with his Nigerian roots.
He has ‘Broken Native’ tattooed across his chest coupled with a large map of Africa which serve as a reminder of his cultural heritage.
“I’ve got Africa stamped on my chest, and I’ve outlined Nigeria because that’s my bloodline,” he told just before his fight against Tavares.
“I want to be the guy that introduces Nigerians to this game. People might look at me and think I’m this and that, or I’m special or whatever. I was the runt of my people. I was a skinny-ass little kid with a big-ass head”.
“I see all these kids when I go back home and they’ve got so much potential. I think I’m the only Nigerian that doesn’t f**k with football, everyone loves it over there. Hopefully, I can push some other Nigerians into MMA.”
The fight against Hawaiian Tavares was his first main UFC event and his win will likely take out Top 10 ranking.