By Paul Erewuba

Come May 1, all roads will lead to the Navy Barracks in the sprawling city of Ajegunle, Lagos, where OFU ‘s 2022 entertainment calendar packed with exciting and spellbinding events will kick start with the OFU Streetfight series.

In a chat with Sun Sports on Saturday to announce this year’s Season 3 package, CEO of OFU Entertainment Ltd, Chief Ife Obiudo explained that three compelling professional MMA bouts from some of Nigeria’s finest fighters have been put together.

He speaks on the fight and many more.

What inspired you to set up this brand?

 As a lover of entertainment via sports, music, movies, shows, I was inspired to establish business brands to suit the purpose.

The bigger picture is to help in engaging and empowering the huge youthful population in Nigeria.

It gives me great joy each time OFU Entertainment or OFU MMA stage events.

Because the occasion provides a golden opportunity where the youths and the old make a living by fitting into the various callings related to their field of expertise.

It’s a huge cause which one person or brand cannot achieve.

On that premise, I am calling on other corporate entities in Nigeria to join hands with me so that we can continue to engage the youths and others through sports and music. 

What do we expect from the brands this year, 2022?

OFU ‘s 2022 calendar is already packed with exciting and spellbinding events.

Firstly, come Sunday 1st May 2022 at Navy Barracks our Streetfight series OFU3 will ignite the sprawling city of Ajegunle.

Why the choice of Ajegunle?

The choice of Ajegunle is instructive because it’s one community that has produced some of Nigeria’s legendary sports stars.

So, we are taking this game closer to the grassroots with emphasis on building role models in the fighters who will in turn help in persuading some of these boys and girls roaming the neighborhood that they can actually earn a legitimate living by taking up Mixed Martial Arts as a profession.

The AJ City Rumble is a prelude to the big one, the mother of all combat sports championships in Nigeria and Africa, OFU4: Democracy Fight Night, coming up on 10 June 2022 at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos.

We are using the Ajegunle championship to sensitise fight fans ahead of the June Fight Night which will feature international fighters who are worth their salt in the MMA game.

In our previous Fight Night, OFU2, last December, the KO Machine Emmanuel Bernard delivered the biggest knockout in the history of MMA in Nigeria on his way to winning the OFU Bantamweight title against Egyptian, Hassan Viper Mandour.

So due to popular demand, the June Democracy Fight Night OFU4 will feature a rematch of both bitter rivals, KO Machine and Viper in Lagos plus other entertaining bouts pitting Nigerians against their foreign counterparts.

Our brand ambassadors, popular Yoruba movie actor Jigan Babaoja, Nigeria’s fast rising footballer Yusuf Abba Bichi and legendary musician born and raised in Ajegunle Daddy Showkey are so elated to associate with our good cause and are ever ready to add value to the society through our event.

When you first nurtured this idea, what was the reaction of your wife, family and friends?

At first my wife raised concerns about the huge capital injection into the business.

But with time she saw that it was a noble idea and her support ever since has been impactful.

My kids are big time entertainment consumers and had no problems keying into the dream.

 Do you think the government should be part of this and why?

 Of course government has huge roles to play in sports entertainment.

The industry is capital intensive. So, various interventions by government will go a long way in cushioning the effects of doing the business of giving back to the society through entertainment and sports.

  What role does government play in promoting sports entertainment?

 Government’s role in sports entertainment and development is unquantifiable.

Key role is to provide infrastructure and the enabling environment under which various sports can thrive.

To encourage brands like us who are into the business of empowering youths through sports entertainment, government can also give us tax rebates or incentivise our operations so that we will be able to remain in business.

 What plans do you have for it? 

My plans for the two brands, OFU Entertainment and OFU MMA, are huge and beneficial to all and sundry.

For instance, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, is the fastest growing sports in the world, and Nigerians are making waves in the game abroad.

OFU, MMA are well positioned to become a reference point in the game of MMA.

Our foreign contacts are providing more expertise to better the brand, while we put long lasting structures in Nigeria and elsewhere on the African continent so that fighters and support groups will have closer dealings with the organisation.

Our modus operandi are quite different and unique because emphasis is usually at the grassroots where these fighters come from.

Hardworking fighters who are committed to our cause will have the opportunity to train and fight abroad.

We are working towards having homegrown fighters who will make a living and name for themselves which will in turn inspire other young boys and girls in their communities to take up the art.

OFU Entertainment Limited as a parent company has a template to revolutionise the industry by bringing to bear professionalism in music, artiste management, gym and spa, live indoor and outdoor shows, TV productions etc. 

With your experience abroad, what and what can be done to build Ofu MMA of your dream? 

Exchange of programmes between OFU MMA and other nations renowned for combat sports like Poland and France.

My international contacts have also agreed to bring over some budding youthful Nigerian fighters to their countries for training purposes with state of the art equipment and instructors.

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With all of these combined, I believe the future of the industry and the brand is bright.

We all know that most people fear being part of MMA and the likes in Nigeria because of injuries, being that our medicals are nothing to write home about, so what is your own safeguard?

Point of correction, the nation’s medical cannot be said to be nothing to write home about.

The country has her challenges in that regard however she has made some giant strides in the profession.

To be more specific, MMA is not as dangerous as being viewed from outside.

There have been bigger numbers of deaths in other sports than MMA.

An experienced referee and the numerous rules and regulations in the game help to prevent fatalities during MMA bouts.

We also have on standby certified medical team in case of any eventualities.

How old is it now?

OFU entertainment is about 3 years in the business and our impact is huge.  

Who are the current sponsors or financiers of this your brand sports?

 My various companies help in the sponsorship of our events and services.

That’s why I said earlier that other corporate entities in Nigeria should join up with me in order for us to achieve the great goal of empowerment of youths, thereby putting less pressure on government to do a lot in that area.

What do sponsors stand to gain in being part of this?

OFU events are usually well attended with people from all walks of life making themselves available to consume our content.

Because our content is sports entertainment, most of our audiences are consequently youth oriented which offers brands the opportunity to tap into the sprawling and active youth population of Nigeria.

Another opportunity for sponsors to gain from is via our online networks.

Massive engagements via our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook platforms present more avenues through which sponsors can anchor their services and products to capitalize on more eyeballs.

Sponsors can boost their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR status by associating with us because what we do majorly is to take youths out of the streets by empowering them meaningfully through sports and other forms of entertainment.

Movel Elevators and Ampio have also been supportive of OFU sports and entertainment business.

 Tell us about the online promotion and your future plans?

 Our online platforms are buzzing with activities bordering on related services.

The newly revamped websites, ofuentertainment.com and ofumma.com, are strategically designed to generate vibes and social buzz.

The plan is for the pages to attain supreme gateway status to sports and entertainment content from Nigeria and elsewhere on the African continent.

Other online platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which I have explained earlier, are also a fire content haven where our fighters, musical acts, ambassadors and others are creatively showcased to further boost their profiles and keep their fans constantly engaged.

The plan is to branch into merchandise and energy drink production which will be heavily promoted online on our platforms.

 Briefly tell us about yourself? 

Born into a family of eight, I obtained my primary and secondary education from Imo state.

Business, living a good life and humanitarian causes have always been my passion.

I travelled to Europe for my tertiary education

Not that I would not have achieved my goals in Nigeria.

At that time that was the choice readily available to me.

Alongside obtaining tertiary education in Poland, by His Grace I was able to establish businesses abroad.

With International experience, I am back home in Nigeria to lend a helping hand in building the nation’s socioeconomics through empowerment of youths and other related services. 

In three words describe your personality?

Humble, Passionate and Honest.

 Do you have any other business you are into?

Real Estate.

I am also into smart home and importation and installation of elevators or lifts. 

In 3-5 years what do we expect to see? 

I expect to see the two brands, through dint of hard work, built into an empire which will be a reference point in sports entertainment in Nigeria, Africa.

 Do you have a mentor? 

GOD.

  As a sports person, how do you keep fit on a normal day?

My personal gym is equipped with sophisticated tools, so that alone lures me into regular workouts under a knowledgeable instructor.