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Kamaru Usman: Is “The Nigerian Nightmare” being slept on?

After another sensational victory at UFC: Pittsburgh, we sat down with perennial welterweight contender Kamaru Usman as he looks for his next ranked opponent.


Kamaru Usman has been a name steadily gaining traction in the UFC since winning the TUF 21 Finale back in 2015. Five fights later, and the Nigerian Nightmare’s path to greatness has only improved as he continues to rack up wins in one of the stiffest divisions in MMA. In his latest victory over Sergio Moraes last month, Usman once again made his claim for a top ranked contender, calling out Rafael Dos Anjos and declaring himself as a real ‘problem’ for anyone at Welterweight.

Everyone else is trying to survive

The knockout at UFC Fight Night 116 was definitely a treat, but this isn’t anything new in terms of performance for Kamaru Usman. In his recent string of fights, Usman has constantly put on the pressure and made opponents break with the pace he puts on his opponents. When asked why it seems so difficult to find a ranked opponent willing to take on the challenge of the former TUF winner, Usman made a bold claim as to what the hold up seems to be:

They’re smart enough to know that they have no chance. When people get ready to fight, they train to fight and prepare themselves for that. Not when you fight me, when guys fight me they train to survive.

Fight fans critical about the lack of finishes on Usman’s record can go back and look at the tape to determine the truth. When Usman gets locked into a cage with his opponent, he has continually been the better competitor. Sharper, quicker, and more explosive than most of the division while still maintaining his unique flair of raw power and an abnormal approach to engaging strikes. 

Finding the next (and best) opponent

Regardless of the result, the lack of push from the UFC has been quite an eyesore in a division that has come under scrutiny for the lack of exciting title fights in recent years. With a talent like Usman that brings the action, talks well, markets himself adequately, and has the ability to gather a whole continent behind his push for a title, you would think the UFC would jump on the opportunity to make that fighter the next best thing. The lack of excitement surrounding Usman’s spectacular performances has made him one of the most slept on fighters in all the UFC, and it’s only a matter of time before someone gives him his long-awaited match-up.

If the UFC wanted to, they could do something about it. I’ve been in situations before where I was told [by the UFC] that you have to take this fight. If they really wanted to, they could say you have to fight this guy. They can do more, but since they don’t wanna do it, I’m gonna do it for myself.

Kamaru Usman detailed his time at the Afrimma Awards 2017 where he presented an award and got acquainted with many other artists and notable celebrities at the show. If he’s not kicking it with Antonio Brown and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the states before a fight, he is doing everything in his power to improve his visibility inside and outside the octagon.

This can-do mentality from Kamaru Usman is something more fighters should do in an age where complaining about lack of push seems to be the norm. Usman is actively making the efforts and putting on the performances worthy of the highlight reels and all the hype that comes with it. It’s only a matter of time before his exploits in the cage have time to shine as he continues to build his win streak in one of the toughest divisions.

Who should Kamaru Usman fight next?

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Nicolas Vera

Currently studying at Rollins College pursuing a Bachelors in English.

 

If I'm not keeping up with the latest fight news then I'm probably writing about it!  There's nothing better than watching two martial artists compete at their peak in the name of competition, and that's why I cover this amazing sport!  It's not always about entertainment, it's an art form.

Kamaru Usman: Is “The Nigerian Nightmare” being slept on?

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