Sodiq Yusuff is settling into the role of a UFC main eventer as he prepares to headline a UFC event for the first time.
Yusuff takes on Brazilian legend Edson Barboza in the featherweight main event of UFC Vegas 81, which takes place Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
It’s an assignment he was excited to accept, both because of his respect for his opponent, but also because he thought his opportunity to face Barboza might have slipped away.
“Man, it’s really dope,” he told reporters during media day.
“They originally gave me that name for Abu Dhabi (at UFC 294), but I couldn’t make it because of passport problems, so I thought it was an opportunity that I already missed.
“So when they brought it back around, it was a ‘yes,’ definitely. Edson is a legend. That’s a name I’d love to have under my resume.”
Yusuff heads into the bout ranked ahead of his more illustrious opponent, and deservedly so. His form in the UFC has been excellent, with “Super Sodiq” notching six wins against a unanimous decision loss to elite contender Arnold Allen in his seven Octagon appearances to date.
The Dana White’s Contender Series graduate has let his performances do the talking so far in his career, but he knows that victory over a name as tenured and respected as Barboza could supercharge his run towards the top of the 145-pound division. Now the 30-year-old is ready for his first UFC main event, and he thinks he’s exactly where he deserves to be.
“It feels natural,” he said.
“When I first got it, it was a little bit surreal. But the closer and closer I got (to fight week), this is like this is the destined path.
“I feel like I’ve spent enough time here and I’ve gotten enough eyeballs on me to where the company feels like I deserve it.
“When Saturday comes, you’ve just got to go out there and put on a good show so they give you another one.”