Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sodiq Yusuff Thought Career Could Be Over During COVID Battle

UFC featherweight Sodiq Yusuff has described the fear he had for the future of his fighting career during a tough battle with COVID-19.

Yusuff has long been considered one of the top prospects in the UFC at 145 pounds. Entering 2021, the 28-year-old was unbeaten in the promotion and boasted an 11-1 record that included wins against Gabriel Benitez and Andre Fili.

However, the year was his first in the UFC that didn’t bring success and progression up the featherweight ladder. In his sole appearance, he was matched up with Arnold Allen in a real battle of future stars. The Englishman secured a tight decision victory in their UFC Vegas 23 clash.

Instead of having a quick chance to rebound, Yusuff found himself suffering from the virus that has caused havoc across the world over the past two years.

Now finally set for his return to the Octagon this weekend after a near one-year layoff, Yusuff has looked back on his battle with the illness.

While his long layoff in 2020, owing to passport-related issues that caused the cancelation of his bout with Edson Barboza, was frustrating, Yusuff says his 2021 spell on the sidelines was ‘scary’.

During UFC Vegas 50 media day one Wednesday, the Nigerian-American admitted he was frightened about the future of his career after suffering from the long-term symptoms of COVID-19.

“It’s super depressing. The year before this one (2020) was frustrating. But last year (was) not frustrating because now I’m dealing with my health,” said Yusuff. “It’s different about being frustrated about fighting and thinking you’re gonna be jacked up for the rest of your life. I was really, really scared. I actually called my coach. I was telling him, ‘Man, I think I might be done with fighting.’

“I didn’t know anything about (long-term) COVID symptoms. A lot of this stuff people were figuring out on the go,” added Yusuff. “So I didn’t know that, oh, your body’s still acting like you’re sick. So it was very, very depressing. But hey, we’re on the other side now.”

One notable other instance of a fighter suffering from long COVID was rising welterweight star Khamzat Chimaev. Like Yusuff, “Borz” even considered retirement when feeling the effects the virus had on his body.

Having seen the Chechen-born Swede return in style last October by choking Li Jingliang unconscious, “Super” will be looking to make a similar comeback this Saturday.

Yusuff Has Opportunity To Rebound At UFC Vegas 50

In the way of Yusuff making a successful return to the win column and re-railing his train towards the top 10 will be Alex Caceres. The pair will share the Octagon on the main card of this weekend’s UFC Vegas 50 card.

“Bruce Leeroy” has been a part of the UFC roster since 2011 but has only recently hit his best form. Across an active five-fight win streak dating back to 2019, Caceres has bested names like Steven Petersen and Chase Hooper.

Most recently, the 33-year-old secured the final spot in the rankings by recovering from an early knockdown and illegal knee to submit Seung Woo Choi.

While he’ll hope to continue his previously unlikely climb towards the elite at 145 pounds, Yusuff will be hoping to avoid a skid and re-establish himself as the prospect to watch in the featherweight division.

Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC Vegas 50, Sodiq Yusuff or Alex Caceres?

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