American pro MMA fighter and activist travels to Africa to grow MMA and spread gender-based violence prevention 

RISE OF LIONS '17 - SENEGAL by D'Juan Owens

D'Juan "Dirty South" Owens is an experienced professional MMA fighter holding a record of 26 professional fights. D'Juan is also a major supporter of LionHeart's vision to develop MMA, most of all to create opportunities for athletes in Africa.

Muay thai fighters talk to student  during project to develop mma in africa


Origins, record, and activism

D'Juan currently lives in North Carolina and fights out of the MMA Institute in Richmond, Virginia USA. He began his career as a MMA fighter at the age of 23 with no previous experience in martial arts. D'Juan was inspired to become a fighter by watching the Ultimate Fighter while he was serving as a U.S. Marine. D'Juan stuck to training as a result was thrusted into his first fight replacing a teammate. He later traveled to Russia and Peru to compete in MMA. He later traveled to Africa to use his talent to make the world a better place.

Warmups during a muay thai class to help grow MMA in africa

A conscious MMA fighter, D'Juan's love for Africa took him on missions to Uganda where he taught Jiu jitsu, MMA, and self-defense seminars. D'Juan organized his seminars at schools, youth centers, religious institutions, and gyms across the country. Gender-based violence prevention was the focal point of his self-defense seminars. His self-defense seminars include group discussions about awareness, domestic violence, and misconceptions about sexual violence.

"If you're not ACTIVELY engaged in the dismantling or disrupting of the system that created the circumstances that you're striving to improve, then you're NOT serious about the revolutionary work" - D'Juan Owens

Muay thai coach looks over students and mma fighters in africa

D'Juan spent most of his professional career taking on fights as an underdog. More often than not D'Juan beat crowd favorites including fighters from the UFC and Bellator. D'Juan is credited with beating UFC veteran Dustin Pague and TUF contestant Ran Weathers. As well as winning fights against Bellator fighters Jeremy Myers and Ian Rammel.

D'Juan Owens as a LionHeart partner

D'Juan and French fighter Sebastien Gueit demonstrated MMA in a 3-round MMA exhibition at the LionHeart 2017 Dakar Open.  This MMA super-fight was meant to show the close relationship between BJJ and modern MMA to the local audience. This project truly helped grow MMA in Africa. LionHeart motivates volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the LionHeart Initiative has motivated dozens of volunteer worldwide to travel to Africa.