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‘Blood Diamond’ seeks glory on his UFC debut

DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWEAN Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) st (pictured) will be seeking what could potentially be a life-changing victory on his debut on the sport’s biggest stage when he takes on American Jeremiah Wells at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 271st edition in Houston, Texas, tomorrow.

A victory for Mathetha, who is popularly known as “Blood Diamond”, would enhance his status as one of the rising stars in the sport where global superstar Conor McGregor was the sport’s highest-paid world athlete in 2020, raking in around US$252 million.

The 33-year-old fighter was born in Zimbabwe, but immigrated to New Zealand with his family in 2003 at the age of 13.

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 Zimbabwean.

In fact, it was the UFC middleweight champion Adesanya who surprised him with the contract during a sparring session in July.

Like Adesanya, Mathetha has an extensive kickboxing background.

However, the Bulawayo-born fighter is keen on making his ring name “Blood Diamond” known around the world, even more so than the 2006 film starring American actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

“I want it to be like, you say, ‘Blood Diamond’, and people say, ‘Ah, yes. That guy (is a) great entertainer’,” he said in an interview with ufc.com recently.

“I enjoy giving a good show, so that’s it.

A guy who has something different from everyone else, and he is quite entertaining, and someone you want to see fight whether you want to see him win or lose, you just want to see him fight.

That’s the goal.

I want to build that name ‘Blood Diamond’ so big that when you type it in Google, I’m going to show up before the movie.”

A two-time King in the Ring kickboxing tournament winner in New Zealand, Mathetha is unbeaten in his MMA career, with his three wins coming via knockout, submission and, most recently, a unanimous decision over Dimps Gillies in February 2020.

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