Themba Gorimbo sees himself as realistic headliner for UFC Africa: ‘I’m a big inspiration’

LAS VEGAS – Themba Gorimbo came out victorious Saturday at UFC Fight Night 241 to top off an emotional week.

On the main card at the UFC Apex, Gorimbo (13-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) defeated Ramiz Brahimaj (10-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC), but did so with a heavy heart after the death of his coach’s mother. The tragedy catalyzed unwavering determination and strength.

“I don’t think he took me down,” Gorimbo told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “I think every time he tried to take me down, I remembered my coach and the sacrifice that he made. I said, ‘Nope.’ I remembered the sacrifice that he made. That’s why he didn’t take me down. Every time, he didn’t take me down. My takedown defense was solid. I took him down. I could’ve done more if I wanted to. But for this fight, I was working more on defensive wrestling than attacking wrestling. Because I wanted to knock him out. What I’m doing is being grateful for the win. That’s the most important thing.”

Gorimbo wanted a spectacular finish but didn’t get it. Since he defeated Brahimaj by unanimous decision, Gorimbo didn’t think he was in a position to call his next shot. Instead, he outlined a roadmap of locations for his next fights.

Gorimbo plans to fight at the UFC Apex again, and then perhaps he’ll be aligned to headline the first UFC event in Africa. He considers himself the ideal candidate for the position.

“I’ve heard the rumors they’re going with a Fight Night first when they do go,” Gorimbo said. “At a Fight Night, there’s no titles needed. So I have to make my way up and main event an Apex show. From there, I’ll main event the first African show because I’m a big inspiration to the African fighters because of where I come from. I earned my spot to be here. I didn’t have anything. I worked my ass off to be here. I sacrificed. I nagged my manager daily to be here in the UFC. If an African child can maybe take a page out of my story, to try to make it here, I’m the perfect guy to ask. If you listen to me and you try to do what I do, you might be up there or just land in the UFC.

“I feel like I need to do that to inspire a lot of other African kids. I respect the guys who came before me, Izzy (Adesanya), Kamaru (Usman), the history he made, (Francis) Ngannou, the history he made, Dricus (Du Plessis) with the championship that he has. I respect that. But when it comes to the guy who can actually relate a lot more than anything, I’m not disrespecting the guys, but I come from the gutters of Africa, the gutters of Africa. I can maybe turn a page and reach the new market the UFC needs to reach.”

In Gorimbo’s mind there’s a difference between a role model and an inspiration. He considers himself the latter, but not the former.

“I’m not a guy that is a role model,” Gorimbo said. “I’m just Themba Gorimbo. That’s what I’m proud of firstly. … When I sit at home, before sleeping at home in my bed, I reflect, and I don’t make the same mistakes again. So I’m not a role model, but I want to be an inspiration and I think I am. … I am inspiration more than a role model.”

While no clear timeline has been announced by the UFC for its Africa debut, company CEO Dana White has repeatedly expressed interest in an event there. In December, he revealed the promotion expects the first UFC event on that continent to take place in either South Africa, Rwanda, or Nigeria.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 241.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie