Combat Sports

What’s Next for “Super” Sodiq Yusuff in His Rise to the Top?

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Sodiq Yusuff (12-2) is a real force in the ultra-stacked Featherweight division. This division has some real talent with many promising fighters looking to rise in the ranks. Finding the right match-up can be daunting with the number of potential contenders. When Giga Chikadze withdrew from a bout with Yusuff for undisclosed reasons, it left one fewer fighter for Sodiq Yusuff to contend with. Can he continue to rise?

Proven Contender

There is no doubt Yusuff has had mostly lateral movement up his division. Debuting in 2018, Super has gone 5-1 in the promotion with a brutal stoppage of Gabriel Benitez in the first round. His only loss came in April 2021, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Arnold Allen, a loss that has aged well considering Allen’s current position in the UFC. Sodiq Yusuff is coming off two victories over Alex Caceres and Don Shainis–both tested fighters.

Contenders For Sodiq Yusuff in the Division 

In most divisions within the UFC, climbing the rankings can be a real challenge. With most top 15 contenders fighting three times a year, it can be hard to find the right match-up to get to that title shot. The fight with Giga Chikadze would have been a good way to break into the top 10 of the division, and with two wins within that ranking, a title eliminator can’t be too far away. Unfortunately, Giga Chikadze had to withdraw from the fight. It is unlikely Super will find a good match-up anytime soon to help him break into that top ten, especially after his short bout with Don Shainis.

When looking at options for the potential match-up, Calvin Katter is possible, but that would be a great risk for him considering the rankings of each fighter. Chan Sung Jung is another option that many fighters have been angling for, but no one is sure if The Korean Zombie will be looking to come back. The main takeaway is that there are not many paths to the top of the division. 

Which of these fighters tops your UFC Pound for Pound list?









Comparing “Super” to Other Contenders 

For the most part, 145 is a striking-oriented division. Looking at the top names within the weight class, most are known for striking. Outside of showing solid takedown defense at 68%, Yusuff is a striker. In his most recent fight with Shainis, he blasted him with several vicious kicks and ended the bout promptly.

Considering his loss to Arnold Allen, despite throwing 164 strikes and landing 79, he got outworked by Allen over three rounds. Looking forward, getting outworked by top contenders could be an issue for the Nigerian, the bout with Giga Chikadze could have answered the questions about where Super is now versus 2021. Namely, if Yusuff can be more purposeful when fighting higher-level competition, how would he handle the kickboxing of Chikadze? Again, this would be speculation, as Chikadze withdrew from the fight, and instead, Yusuff was pitted against Don Shainis.

There is also the question of how he would fare against the grapplers of the division. Bryce Mitchell, Brian Ortega, and Movsar Evloev are the main grapplers to watch out for. Even looking down the division, grappling could be on the rise amongst the fighters. Those match-ups are interesting, as the TD defense of Yusuff is solid, but those fighters would present a unique challenge. 

Looking further down the division, new fighters moving up the ranks like Jonathan Pearce are showing out against veterans. Back at UFC London, JSP was able to stop the renaissance of Makwan Amirkhani. This all shows that there are people Yusuff is chasing but others who are also on his tail.

Implications For “Super” Sodiq Yusuff 

When fights fall through, there are tons of possible outcomes. With Yusuff, he had to settle with taking on Don Shainis instead of Giga Chikadze. Shainis has a record similar to Yusuff, but Yusuff took out his frustration on him and won in a lopsided victory. This match-up was a notable risk for the Nigerian as Shainis is also a rising fighter within the MMA world. He showed that he can handle better fighters and quickly dispatched Shainis.

Sodiq Yusuff is another name that has real merit to be a champion, with a strong leg kick game and being one of the better athletes within the division. Only time will tell where this situation will take him.

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Gonzalo Magana has been a causal MMA fan for a decade, but started following the sport more diligently in 2020. He wrestled for eight years, and has done BJJ for 2 years. These insights into combat sports motivated him to write about MMA, the greatest sport in the world.