ANAHEIM, Calif. – Speaking up is paying off for UFC featherweight Sodiq Yusuff and his family.

Yusuff said he’ll become a U.S. citizen – along with his mother and brother – after an emotional plea for immigration help in a past pre-fight interview with MMA Junkie.

“The person that helped us watched that interview,” Yusuff told MMA Junkie on Wednesday in advance of his third octagon bout against Gabriel Benitez at UFC 241.

Yusuff, 26, reached out to break an impasse on his family’s legal status in the U.S. after immigrating to Baltimore from a polygamist community in Nigeria. He’s one of 16 children in his extended family and provides for those who haven’t been able to come overseas.

“Those are real things that matter,” Yusuff said. “At the end of the day, after the cameras go away, a couple months away from the fight, the happiness is going to come from the people that I’m surrounded by. That’s where I get joy from, is helping my mom and brothers and sisters.

“I’m just trying to change their life, even if it’s just a little bit. Just add some positivity to it.”

The number of immigrants receiving U.S. citizenship decreased by 6 percent between 2016 and 2017 as petitions increased by 1.54 percent, per the most recent figures available from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The slight decrease is attributed to longer processing time due to higher demand and an increase in denied applications, according to

A pair of wins have allowed Yusuff to send home more money as he tries to bring more family members to the U.S. He said they’re able to live “a decent life” in Nigeria as they wait.

The motivation for moving family members is clear. Prior to his UFC debut, Yusuff lost his older brother to typhoid, a fact his mother hid from him until after the fight. He dedicated his first win to the brother.

Yusuff’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed by the MMA world. His appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series recently surpassed bantamweight star Sean O’Malley as the most watched fight on the show.

A matchup against Gabriel Benitez (21-6 MMA, 5-2 UFC) offers Yusuff (9-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) the chance to go 3-0 in a crowded featherweight division. The more of his home team he can bring along for the ride, the better he’ll feel about his work.

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