RENOWNED Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star Themba Gorimbo has edged closer towards his dream of becoming the first Ultimate Fighting Championship champion from Africa after he was awarded a contract in the UFC’s welterweight division on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old fighter becomes only the second Zimbabwean fighter to be signed up by the Las Vegas-based promotion company after New Zealand-based Mike Mathetha became the country’s UFC trailblazer last year.

South African Jason House, whose management firm Team Iridium takes care of the reigning Zimbabwe Sportsperson of the Year’s affairs confirmed the news on social media on Tuesday evening. Gorimbo, who is affectionately known as “The Mamba” immediately sent a warning to his rivals in the welterweight division as he awaits the announcement of his debut fight.

“Brace yourselves welterweights. There is a Mamba in town now. #mambashow,” Gorimbo wrote on Twitter.

Gorimbo was last in action on June 26 when he defeated Julio Rodrigues via a three round decision in a Cage Fury Fighting Championships fight in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Prior to moving to the US, Gorimbo primary competed on the South Africa-based Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) where he successfully defended his EFC Welterweight Championship belt with a second-round submission of Lyle Karam in March 2020 at EFC 84.

Gorimbo also competed in the UAE Warriors, a high-profile MMA promotion based in the Middle East.

Born in Bikita, Masvingo, Gorimbo became an orphan after his mother died when he was nine, and his father died when he was 13.

He left the country Zimbabwe in 2008 for neighbouring South Africa after a life of mining diamonds in Marange as a teenager.

After overcoming several obstacles, including being homeless when he arrived in South Africa, he rose to become the best in the welterweight division on the continent.

Gorimbo hopes to use his story to inspire others on the big stage.

“At the tender age of 16, I became a diamond smuggler in the bloody diamonds of Marange, Zimbabwe just to get by and look after myself,” Gorimbo said in a previous interview.

“Eventually smuggling diamonds had to be stopped by the government, and I almost got killed there, and I left Zimbabwe at the age of 17 for South Africa as a border jumper in search of a better life and opportunities. I’ve worked as a painter, security, and gardener here in South Africa while doing MMA on the road to becoming a champion.”

Meanwhile Gorimbo’s younger brother, Takunda signed with the UAE Warriors recently in hopes of getting some fights after being out of the cage for a while. His last fight came in 2018 against SA’s Asiashu Tshitamba which was followed up by two cancellations. He is now set to face UAE’s Rudy Tshisuaka in a catchweight bout.

Gorimbo’s fellow countryman and training partner, former EFC Bantamweight champion, Sylvester Chipfumbu has also been confirmed for his third showing in UAE Warriors and he will compete at the UAE Warriors 33 where he faces Germany’s Rany Saadeh in a Bantamweight scrap.

Chipfumbu has had a mixed bag since signing with the UAE Warriors with one title loss against Bantamweight champion, Brazil’s Vinicius de Oliveira before pulling a win back in his last bout against France’s Helder Fernandes and he will be keen on finding his way back to title conversations once more.

The main event of UAE Warriors 33 will see the biggest rematch in the promotion’s history as Canada’s Jesse Arnett (20-8) is set to defend his featherweight title against rival Ali AlQaisi (12-6).

Source Newsday