Nigeria’s hard-hitting Yusuff aiming to make statement at McGregor’s UFC 246 return – live on SuperSport

Nigeria’s Sodiq Yusuff is beginning to make his presence felt in the UFC’s featherweight division and will seek to continue his rapid rise when he fights Andre Fili at UFC 246 in Las Vegas this weekend.

Yusuff spoke about his chances and how important it is to be seen on SuperSport, which will broadcast the event – headlined by Conor McGregor against Donald Cerrone - on SS 11 from 5am on Sunday.

Could you tell us about your typical training schedule leading up to this fight and how you are feeling?
“I feel fantastic. My training schedule doesn’t typically change too much from fight to fight. I usually get to the gym at around 9.30 to 10am every day, train for three to four hours and I will repeat the same thing in the evening. I probably leave the gym at around 10.30pm. But in general if isn’t broke then don’t fix it.”

Have you focused on specific areas in your fight prep ahead of this fight?
“I have changed up some of my sparring partners to help prepare for a long-range opponent and that difference in range is probably the one specific area we have looked at in this fight camp.”

You are on an impressive four-fight winning streak in the UFC, what is it that motivates you when you are in fight camp or stepping inside the Octagon?
“Being able to change the lives of the people around me. This is a sport where you can make a lot of money and elevate yourself and your loved ones. That is a big motivation for me.”

In your opinion what is your greatest advantage over Andre Fili, have you met him before and what do you think of him as an athlete?
“I have never met him before but in terms of advantages that I have over him, I would definitely say my power. I always feel I have the edge in terms of athleticism, but he is game, and I don’t see him giving up easily.”

What challenges will your opponent look to use to their advantage?
“I think he will definitely look to use his range. He will try and keep the fight at distance. But I don’t envisage that being an issue.”

With all the talented athletes coming out of Nigeria, what does it mean to you to be representing your home country on one of the biggest sporting events of the year such as UFC 246?
“It means a whole lot. This will be one of the biggest UFC events and it’s awesome to be part it. It feels great to get recognition and it’s fantastic that there are world champions coming out of the country. It is huge, not just for us as athletes but everybody back home.”

Was it a proud moment for you when your fights were watched live on SuperSport, giving friends, family and fans alike across Africa the opportunity to see you in action?
“It is super cool. Before, my family would have to follow my fights via updates from WhatsApp sent by members of my team. Now my friends, family and fans can watch my fights live, which is amazing.”

Do you have a message to your fans across Africa and the rest of the world that will be tuning in to watch you fight?
“Just to keep sending your love, support and prayers. I appreciate all the kind words and gestures I receive online and I want them to know that I feel them too.”

Could you offer a few words of advice and motivation to young aspiring athletes looking to follow in your footsteps?
“To anyone that is looking to follow in my footsteps, I would just advise them to put in the work. The biggest part of success is being consistent. A lot of people can temporarily work hard but can’t keep it consistent. So just put in the work and do it on a consistent basis.”

What age did you decide that you would like to be a mixed martial artist?
“I was very young, maybe 10 or 11.”

What was the turning point moment that developed your path to where you are as an athlete today?
“Believe it or not, I always thought I would become a professional athlete. I knew this was a sport where you become successful through work ethic alone. Work ethic is something that comes naturally to me, so this is always been my path.”

How do you split your time between Nigeria and training in the US?
“Before, I used to be at home for around two to three months and then travel to the US for fight camps. Now I am able to take some trips to different countries in between fight camps. I still get to see my family which is great.”

When you return to Africa, where do you usually like to visit and what is your favourite local food?
“For me, coming back to Africa is about seeing my family. My favourite local food is Suya. I like visiting the street vendors because they cook the meat with all the seasoning right there on the grill in front of you.”

Describe the way you will celebrate a victory on the weekend.
I will definitely be celebrating with ice cream! That is my number one thing. I don’t have any vices, so ice cream is the way I celebrate. My favourite is either Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s.”