UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman says he would “absolutely” consider moving up and going for “champ-champ” status – but only if middleweight king and compatriot Israel Adesanya steps aside. Fresh off his third successful title defence, a thirdround TKO of former teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 last weekend, “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman (18-1) has already been in talks with president Dana White about his next bout.
After retired legend Georges St-Pierre pulled his name from consideration, a Jorge Masvidal rematch appears to be the early front runner. However, 185-pound champ Adesanya’s (20-0) UFC 259 headliner against Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight belt on March 6 may alter things. “Absolutely, absolutely.
If Izzy’s willing to move up – well, he is moving up – and he’s willing to give up that 185 [pound] belt and says ‘I have nothing to do with that any more’, then absolutely would I entertain that thought [of fighting for the middleweight title],” the 33-year-old Usman told ESPN. Both Usman and “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya are Nigerian-born and have separately expressed their pride in representing Africa. Though both are on impressive MMA career win-streaks – Usman on 17 and Adesanya still undefeated after 20 fights – fans can rule out a blockbuster bout.
“But by no accounts would I right now entertain a fight with Izzy. That’s just not something that I’m interested in. I’ve said it over before, I’d rather two Africans with belts as opposed to one African with two belts. As of March, it will be three Africans with four belts.
Good time to be an African,” said Usman, who beat a short-notice Mavidal via unanimous decision last July. Usman took slight issue with being ranked behind Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, Adesanya and Stipe Miocic in the ESPN pound-for-pound rankings, though he did rise above the heavyweight champion to No 4 in the UFC’s rankings. “I don’t like that. More and more in my mind I’m starting to feel like I’m number one, but it’s still very new because Khabib fought not too long ago,” Usman said.
“Of course, I’ll give it to Khabib but if Khabib is retiring from the sport, I put myself up there, especially with the absence of Jon right now. If those guys are still in the picture it’s very tough to deny what those guys have done.” Meanwhile, Usman could be out of action until August 13, 2021, following his successful title defense against Burns.
It is difficult to compete at the highest level in combat sports and it is even more difficult to leave the arena without inflicting damage on oneself. Based on the medical suspensions issued by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and published by mixedmartialarts.com, Usman will not be eligible to fight again until mid-August unless he provides a negative X-Ray of his right foot and gets cleared by a Sports doctor or orthopedic.
In the event of a negative X-ray, The Nigerian Nightmare will be suspended until March 16 with strict no contact until March 7, 2021. Usman sustained a foot injury in the third successful defense of his title against former teammate and No.1 ranked welterweight contender, Gilbert Burns, at the UFC 258 PPV event. After getting his bells rung early in the fight, Usman kept his composure and slowly picked Burns apart with a strong jab, courtesy of his new head coach Trevor Wittman. Durinho never recovered from the sustained assault and was knocked out 34 seconds into the third round. With the win over Burns, Usman extended his winning streak to 13 fights, the longest in the history of the Welterweight division.