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Bolaji Oki of Belgium reacts after defeating Dylan Salvador of France in their lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week four at UFC APEX on August 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Bolaji Oki Has Lofty Expectations For Himself

After Securing A Contract On Dana White’s Contender Series, Bolaji Oki Hopes To Open The Door For Belgian MMA Fighters At UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Pyfer

The Dana White’s Contender Series alumnus says returning to the UFC APEX six months after earning his contract is wonderful. He describes fight week as a “wonderful experience.” When he imagines getting his hand raised on February 10, he believes it’s going to feel, you guessed it, “wonderful.”

Things didn’t start all too wonderfully for “The Zulu Warrior” when he began his MMA journey, though. When he made his professional debut in March 2018, he lost a decision to Sebastien Di Franco. Oki bounced back with a fury, however, and ripped off eight wins in a row, finishing six via knockout, including his DWCS bout.

“When I lost my first (fight), it made me think a lot and made me stronger,” Oki told “I'm never going to lose again…I had to feel that to make a good statement and come back stronger, and that's what I did.”

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Oki admits the lights and cameras and all the other pomp and circumstance that comes with a fight got under his skin during his professional debut, but he is confident the same won’t happen as he makes his first trip to the Octagon under the UFC banner.

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That’s where the DWCS experience kicks in for the Belgian. He remembers seeing all the UFC logos across the APEX leaving him feeling “super impressed,” but as he walks around the same building ahead of UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Pyfer, Oki feels comfortable.

“I will live (in) the moment,” he said. “Hopefully I get that win by a finish and come back and (do it) again and again and again. I'm here to stay and I'm going to make a statement here.”

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Oki doesn’t come off as a fighter who wants to take the slow path to the top. He hopes to knock out his opponent Timmy Cuamba (who is stepping in on short notice after Damir Hadzovic pulled out of the fight) in the first round so he can come back for another fight in March. Oki has done as much before when he earned a first-round finish in September 2022 and returned to pick up a decision win a month later.

Of course, that’s usually a little harder to do at the highest level, but that does speak to the confidence with which Oki enters the organization. He has the utmost confidence that he will not only blaze a trail for himself, but fellow Belgian fighters to come to the organization after him.

“I'm super proud to be the only Belgian in the UFC,” he said. “Hopefully, I'm not going to be the only one. I just opened the door, and the others will come. We have a lot of talent in my country, but I'm super proud.”

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The 28-year-old has lofty expectations to go along with his high confidence levels, and he hopes a Performance of the Night bonus is in store on February 10. A finish is always the goal for any fighter, but Oki hopes to introduce himself properly to the UFC brass with a simple message:

“There’s more where that came from.”

“If you like finishes, come to watch my fight because I'm a finisher,” he said. “I'm a sniper. I'm fun to watch.”

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UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Pyfer took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 10, 2024. See the Final Main Card & Prelim Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!