<figcaption>Soon, even the mask won’t hide his enthusiasm.</figcaption>
You never know what you’ll tap into when you reconnect with your roots.
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman got more than he bargained for when visiting Nigeria recently as he was invited to attend a Dambe event. If you’ve been around the last few months, you may have noticed that our most recent feature, What The Fight? has shown a lot of content from Dambe Warriors and their events in Nigeria.
The premise is quite simple, participants wrap up one hand with which they can attack. Their free hand can feel out and parry, and opponents are allowed to step on each other’s foot. The microgame becomes a matter of feints and nuance, where fighters need to make every shot count since they can only attack with one weapon.
It’s a far cry from MMA, obviously. With no grappling involved and only one hand permitted for striking, it requires a vastly different level of focus and patience. With the singing, crowd energy, and tension, it can be a lot. And Usman got a VIP spot to soak it in.
Courtesy of African Warriors Fighting Championship (an offshoot of Dambe Warriors), the champ not only got to watch the fights. There was some interactions with some of the participants who helped explain their process and the roots of the art, guiding him through what they experience.
Usman appears more than impressed. In fact, he’s riveted and asks a series of questions along the way. Then, it’s off to the fights themselves and he is shown drawn into the atmosphere of the event. His reactions are huge, and his concern is also on display.
This had been Usman’s first trip back to Nigeria in well over a decade, and this certainly doesn’t seem like something he expected. But he was certainly impressed with what he saw. Check out the video to see just how much.