UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has said “Naija no dey carry last” a few times in the octagon. However, the majority of non-Nigerian UFC fans have no idea what the line means.
So, what exactly does Usman’s catchphrase imply?
The five-word Pidgin phrase is a common Nigerian proverb that serves as the country’s unofficial motto. It roughly translates to “Nigerians aspire to finish first.”
Usman revealed what the slogan means and how important it is to him in an interview with fellow Nigerian and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho.
“It means the world to me because growing up, I used to hear that phrase, hear that saying all the time. And I never really knew what that meant until I got to the point where I was able to compete,” he said.
“Because it means, at the end of the day – and it ties into so many things – it means at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what’s going on. It doesn’t matter how much obstacles, how much pressure, or how many things are weighing us down. At the end of the day, we ain’t going to be last.”
After defeating Gilbert Burns to reclaim his title, Usman repeated the phrase. Earlier in his career, after defeating Brazilian legend Demain Maia at UFC Fight Night 129, Usman had used the same slogan.
The term became more important to him as he rose to new heights of achievement, according to ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’.
“We’re still gonna struggle, we’re gonna fight for everything that we’ve got. And we’ll never come in last place. So that means the world to me when I get to say that because now, I’m in the position to where I’m a symbol of hope for my people,” said Usman.
The dominance of Kamaru Usman
Usman has the longest winning streak in the UFC’s welterweight division’s history. After defeating Burns at UFC 258, the Nigerian equaled octagon legend Georges St-Pierre’s streak of 13 straight victories. Usman extended his winning run to 14 with a knockout victory over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261.
Furthermore, Usman is just two wins away from matching Anderson Silva’s streak and three wins away from dethroning Jon Jones as the UFC’s all-time winning streak leader.