DiBella Entertainment has signed New Zealand heavyweight Hemi "The Heat" Ahio (15-0, 10 KOs) to an exclusive promotional contract. The hard-hitting Ahio will make his debut under the DiBella Entertainment banner on Friday, November 15th, in a ten-round bout against North Carolina's Joshua Tufte (19-3, 9 KOs) at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The show, headlined by another undefeated New Zealand heavyweight, Junior Fa (18-0, 10 KOs) against U.S. Olympian Devin Vargas (21-5, 9 KOs), will be live streamed on UFC Fight Pass.
Renowned as a street fighter in Auckland, Ahio was jumped by six assailants in early 2013 in his hometown and stabbed in the chest. Despite his life-threatening injury, Ahio was able to knock out three of his attackers with the other three running away from the free-swinging, bloodied New Zealander. Following the notorious incident, Ahio was taken to a boxing gym by his uncle and had his first professional bout on October 18, 2013, which he won by first-round knockout.
Boasting good hand speed and punching power, the aggressive Kiwi heavyweight, born to Tongan parents, has drawn comparisons stylistically to a young Mike Tyson. Ahio captured the New Zealand heavyweight title via unanimous decision in his first ten-rounder against Daniel Tai in September 2017. Victorious three times in 2019, he returns to the United States following a first-round knockout of Ali Kiydin on July 12th in Saudi Arabia. On March 2, 2019, Ahio made his US debut with a seventh-round stoppage of Ed Fountain in Columbus, Ohio.
"I'm really appreciative of DiBella Entertainment having the faith in me to be successful in the United States," said the 29-year-old Ahio. "Bring on the good times. I can't wait to fight on Friday, November 15th."
"Hemi has the potential to be a big player in the heavyweight division," said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. "Known as the 'Tongan Tyson' in New Zealand, he's a huge puncher with fast hands and an exciting come-forward style. Coming off a big knockout of an undefeated prospect in Saudi Arabia, Hemi is back in the US and ready to shine on UFC Fight Pass, Friday, November 15th in Salt Lake City."