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Beards beat consonants: Sodiq Yusuff explains viral UFC breakdown videos

Sodiq Yusuff was sitting at the gym a couple months ago, watching his teammates, when his coach told him to go away and broaden his interests.

At that point, the two slipped discs in Yusuff’s back were so on fire, he couldn’t sit or stand for long without severe pain. He had been in the gym not because he could train, but because it’s what he knows.

“You’ve been in jail so long, you’re used to it,” Yusuff, 29, joked.

Go learn some skills, his coach told him. The coach wasn’t the only one with that advice. His manager knew him as much for his sense of humor as fighting. What if he showed that side himself to the rest of the world?

The result was an Unprofessional Breakdown, a parody of the previews that flood the internet before MMA fight cards. Instead of doing a technical breakdown or giving his gambling picks, he took a look at the names and winged it.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t just find out about this card an hour ago and jump straight into it,” Yusuff deadpanned in his first breakdown. “It’s been a fire promotion from the card, and I’m ready to find out why.”

The humor, of course, was in the absurdity of his statement. The card was UFC Vegas 68, which was headlined by Derrick Lewis and Serghei Spivac and kicked off at 10:00 p.m. ET. Most of the talent was unknown to the UFC’s core audience, and the event had not been promoted much. UFC President Dana White had pushed his Power Slap League with far more fervor.

Yusuff’s bone-dry delivery, comedic timing and acerbic wit made the video a perfect commentary on the watered-down cards that pack the modern UFC schedule. Like all good comedy, it was based in truth. But his explanations were also off the wall.

He’d done his breakdowns many times before he turned a camera on.

“When people don’t know you, and you’re a UFC fighter, all they want to do is talk about fighting,” he said. “And I don’t want to talk about fighting with my friends.

“They don’t know who the hell is fighting. They’ll pull out their phones, and I’m doing that in real life what I do on those videos.”

Yusuff’s content tanked on YouTube, his planned outlet. But it took off on Twitter, where MMA observers and journalists frequently bemoan the downward trend in star power and meaningful fights.

“I’ll take it, because it’s getting me the right kind of notoriety,” he said.

Even better, it’s not pissing off his employer. The UFC doesn’t usually take kindly to content that’s not overtly positive to its brand, and Yusuff’s tongue-in-cheek approach could be interpreted as shade. When promotion staffers called him after the Vegas 68 breakdown, he expected an earful.

“I thought they were going to be angry at me,” he said. “I can’t win until next week’s card.”

But now, Yusuff is in full swing as a content creator. He recently released another breakdown for UFC 284 card, an event far richer in stature despite a lack of promotional effort detected by its headliner, Islam Makhachev, and White’s apparent inability to remember the lightweight champ’s name.

The event gave Yusuff the chance to give his pick for the main event, Makhachev vs. featherweight champ Volkanovski in a superfight for the Russian’s lightweight title.

Usually, Yusuff would pick Volkanovski. But Makhachev has a secret weapon.

“If you’re making your debut, and they’re putting you up against a Muslim guy, and his last name has, like, 20 consonants in it, it’s going to be a rough day,” he joked. “[Makhachev vs. Yusuff is] offset, because Islam has the beard with no mustache. The beard with no mustache beats the consonants.”

Yusuff picked correctly. Makhachev unanimously outpointed Volkanovski to retain the lightweight title. In fact, it was one of only two he got right. But that really wasn’t the point.

The Nigerian-born fighter is taking acting and web design classes to broaden his skill set. He plans to release breakdowns for every fight card until he gets a fight, which he’s not quite sure when will happen given his back.

Keith Lee, the former Bellator fighter turned food influencer, is Yusuff’s hero and the model for what can happen when you take a passion and put it out into the world.

“The people around me know this is what I do naturally,” Yusuff said. “I fight scary, but in real life, I’m just cracking jokes most of the time.”

After UFC 284, the promotion’s event schedule rolls on with UFC Vegas 69, headlined by a flyweight matchup between one-time title challenger Taila Santos and Erin Blanchfield. It might set the bar for least-important card of the year.

It’ll give Yusuff plenty of ammunition.

“No, it’s the best UFC card,” he laughs.

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