I’ll never forget the first time I witnessed Nigerian-born Anthony Njokuani fight inside a cage. It was at the inaugural Supreme Warrior Championship promotion held in Garland, TX a few years back and Njokuani was one of the night’s featured fighters.
Despite having never before seen Njokuani fight, I was incredibly eager to see the Saekson Janjira trained Muay Thai striker in person given the buzz surrounding the kid. Within minutes all the hype surrounding Njokuani was justified. In dispatching of Aaron Williams within the opening round, Njokuani solidified what we already assumed about him; that his striking is world class.
It wasn’t long before Njokuani (13-4) joined the ranks of the WEC and his career has been off and running ever since. However, some of the hype has cooled on the “African Assassin” as his record in the WEC stood at 4-3. Despite some up-and-down performances in the cage, Njokuani has earned a level of fame and adulation based on notching three consecutive “Knockout of the Night” honors on the heels of his tremendous Muay Thai skills.
But, what also became abundantly clear is Njokuani’s complete lack of any ground game. It’s a glaring weakness that he has been working to improve since relocating to Las Vegas a few years ago.
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"I'm extremely confident now," explained Njokuani to MMA Junkie Radio the other day and reported by Dann Stupp. "I've been working with all those black belts at Sergio Penha's gym. I'm not getting caught in anything. I'm playing it smart in the game. My ground game has come up a couple notches for sure."
Confident is one thing, but Njokuani has shown an evolution in his game since focusing on his ground game weakness. All of which should serve him well in the immediate future as Njokuani readies to make his UFC debut on March 19 at UFC 128. Scheduled to face the “African Assassin” is fellow striker, the undefeated, Edson Barboza (7-0). Barboza, who has six KO victories on his sterling career is no stranger to the art of kickboxing which has many fans eager to see the explosiveness that is sure to be exhibited when these two fighters meet up.
"I know this is going to be a headbanger fight," Njokuani said. "I'm so looking forward to it. Edson Barboza is a great fighter, and I like a challenge.
Njokuani's bout with Barboza will be aired live on Spike as one of the two preliminary fights airing beforce the PPV main event.