Francis Ngannou became the first African heavyweight champion by beating arguably the greatest heavyweight champion of all time, Stipe Miocic. "The Predator" became the third active UFC champion of African descent, alongside UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
The accomplishments of his fellow champions resonated with Ngannou, as the newly crowned king of the heavyweights made an appeal to the UFC. On Ariel Helwani's MMA Show, Francis Ngannou said -
"This fight must happen. We are thinking about it right now. The UFC has to figure it out... As three champs, I think [we] deserve at least one event, open event, to honor us."
Francis Ngannou's appeal for an African UFC event has been a dream of his and his fellow African UFC champions, Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman. The three propose to hold an event in Africa with all three of them defending their championships. Ngannou also detailed how the UFC roster has a very small percentage of African fighters, yet three divisions have African fighters as champions.
The heavyweight champion said the event must take place as a mark of respect to African fighters and champions. Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya voiced their support by re-tweeting Francis Ngannou's message to the UFC.
Have there been any African champions in the UFC besides Francis Ngannou, Israel Adesanya, and Kamaru Usman?
The UFC has never had any African champions besides the three current champions. However, Jamaican fighter Eddie Gordon did win The Ultimate Fighter 19.
Kamaru Usman became the first African UFC Champion in March, 2019. He faced then-champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. 'The Nigerian Nightmare' put on a masterclass and won the fight via unanimous decision, thus beginning his reign over the 170 lbs division.
Israel Adesanya soon followed suit. After defeating Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight title in April 2019, 'The Last Stylebender' fought Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October 2019. He knocked Whittaker out to unify the titles and become the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.
Israel Adesanya attempted to capture another division when he fought UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. However, Jan Blachowicz put up an incredible performance to win via unanimous decision.
Francis Ngannou became the latest addition to the African champions club at UFC 260 on March 27, 2021.