Zim born MMA star Mathetha set for UFC debut

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Mike 'Blood Diamond' Mathetha (left) in action in New Zealand recently

New Zealand-based Zimbabwean Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Mathetha will make his debut fight in the lucrative UFC when he takes on American Orion Cosce  at UFC 271 on February 13, the Las Vegas-based promotion company has confirmed.

A teammate of world middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, Mathetha signed a contract that will see him participate in four fights under the welterweight division.

Fighting on the preliminary undercard, Mathetha will join two of his teammates at the pay-per-view event in Houston, with Carlos Ulberg making his second UFC appearance against Fabio Cherant and Israel Adesanya defending his middleweight title in a rematch with Robert Whittaker in the headline act.

A two-time King in the Ring champion, the fighter simply known as ‘Blood Diamond’ has been tearing through all-comers on the New Zealand regional combat scene for years as a kickboxer, before deciding to shift his focus full-time to MMA.

Mathetha became the first Zimbabwean to be offered a contract with the USA-based MMA promotion company after being awarded a four-fight contract in the UFC’s welterweight division in July this year.

The 31-year-old specialist kickboxer currently holds three professional MMA fights to his credit. He is all set to go for his fourth one and also to add on to his current winning record of 3-0.

Blood Diamond, as Mathetha is popularly known in New Zealand was born in Zimbabwe, but immigrated to “The Land Of The Long White Cloud” with his family in 2003 at the age of 14.

He was raised in Blenheim, a town on New Zealand’s South Island, before moving to Auckland to chase his dream of becoming a professional fighter.

Mathetha is a product of the Auckland-based City Kickboxing Gym, which is renowned for being the home club of Nigerian born UFC superstar Israel Adesanya, who is a close friend of the rising Zimbabwean star.

Mathetha says his target is to give Zimbabweans someone to support on the UFC and inspiring up-and-coming fighters, who also aspire to reach the highest level of the sport.

“Becoming the first Zimbabwean in the UFC is something cool to be honest, being first in something is just wow,” Mathetha said recently.

“For me it’s going to be like I’ve accomplished something other people have not managed to do. Yeah, there are quite a few Africans in the UFC, but just being the first Zimbabwean to be signed is such a cool thing. Now Zimbabwean fans will have someone to support and I hope I can inspire someone. If I can at least inspire one person, they hear my story and decide to chase their dream. I’m happy with that. All I need is just one person,” he said.

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