Dana White slammed ‘casual’ fans for not respecting welterweight king Kamaru Usman after his record-breaking win over Gilbert Burns… but as the Nigerian Nightmare lines up a rematch with Jorge Masvidal, can ANYONE stop this underrated star?
- Kamaru Usman cemented his place as the best welterweight after UFC 258
- The 170-pound king defeated No 1 contender via third round KO in Las Vegas
- Usman’s win is his 13th consecutive victory in the UFC, beating GSP’s record
- The 33-year-old wants to fight Jorge Masvidal again later this summer
- Leon Edwards, Colby Covington and GSP are in the mix for a clash with Usman
Put some respect on Kamaru Usman’s name, was the essence of Dana White’s message after UFC 258.
‘For anybody to say that Usman’s not [the real deal], you don’t know anything about fighting,’ White said in the post-event press conference.
‘And that’s OK. Maybe you just jump in and you like to watch it because it’s the thing to do, and Conor’s fighting, or this guy’s fighting.
Kamaru Usman is beginning to get the recognition he deserves after his latest win at UFC 258
The welterweight kind notched a record-breaking 13th-straight win after KOing Gilbert Burns
‘But if you know anything about fighting and you don’t think that Usman is [the real deal], you really don’t know anything about fighting.’
Someone needed to say it. For too long now Usman has been overlooked as one of the best talents on the UFC roster.
Yes, he does not possess the charm and charisma of an Israel Adesanya, nor the Terminator-esque intimidation of a Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Usman is a bona fide star in his own right and he has earned his dues.
The numbers speak for themselves. Eighteen wins, one defeat. Thirteen consecutive victories, a record not even the great Georges St-Pierre could match. All done against the best welterweights the UFC has thrown his way.
Colby Covington, Leon Edwards, Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal have all vowed to hand Usman his first UFC defeat. All have failed.
And now Gilbert Burns can be added to that list. The No 1 contender, and former team-mate of Usman, was supposed to be the Nigerian Nightmare’s biggest test yet, but was made to look second best as the 33-year-old secured a third round knockout victory to ensure the belt remained around his waist.
UFC chief slammed ‘casual’ fans who have failed to recognise Usman’s world-class talent
Usman did not have it all his own way, in fairness, with Durinho catching the champion with a right hand that sent him to the floor momentarily. But Usman overcame the early adversity to see out a monumental victory.
‘The strategy was just believing in myself, just knowing that I have the capability of doing whatever I want,’ Usman said after the fight.
‘When I step inside that Octagon, I do what I want, when I want, all the time. I just kind of had to stay composed and not force the other situations, stay with my striking. I can strike.
The win over Burns leaves very few options for the dominant 170-pound champion next up
But the 33-year-old made it clear as to who he wants to put his title on the line against next
‘Sometimes I get a little overzealous and I go to what I know, so I had to just stay with my striking and all the finishes are going to materialise like that if I stay with it.
‘It means a lot. By the time I’m said and done, that’s when I can kind of sit back and look and say ‘Wow, I did that’. Right now is on to the next guy. I’m going to take a little vacation, but then I’m going to worry about who the next guy is, because they are all coming for me.’
While Usman will get the praise he so richly deserves following his latest triumph, the nature of this sport means that the question: ‘Who’s next?’ is asked very quickly.
And the 33-year-old made it very clear that there is just one name in line for a shot at his welterweight championship next: Jorge Masvidal.
Usman called out Jorge ‘Street Jesus’ Masivdal to take him on in a mega-fight this summer
The pair met last July on Fight Island where Usman comfortably defeated his rival by decision
However, Masvidal is confident he can beat Usman if he has a full training camp behind him
‘You’ve got this fake Jesus wannabe run his mouth, because he had a built-in excuse for stepping into that fight, why he took that loss, so next time I’m going to close his mouth for good and I’m going to put him to sleep’ the 170-pound king said.
‘The big thing is my body. I’m so hard on my body when I prepare for these fights, which is why I’m the champion of the world. If my body permits me, I’d love to get three fights in, I would love it.
‘I would love to come in and run through this fake Jesus wannabe and then whoever else. I would love to get three in because that’s three times the money so show me the money and let’s do it.’
White, though could opt to take the welterweight division in a different direction with Usman
The UFC chief loved Usman’s fight with Colby Covington and could reignite that rivalry
The brash American has proved divisive among fans and has upset his fighting rivals
A rematch with Masvidal would certainly make sense. The pair helped get the UFC back to its feet at the start of the pandemic, with Gamebred stepping in at short notice to fight for the title on Fight Island in July.
The 36-year-old is confident that, with a full training camp behind him, he has the skills to win the world title from Usman. There are rumours that the pair could be rival coaches on the next The Ultimate Fighter series as they build up towards a mammoth showdown.
However, although the UFC would be guaranteed a big return in terms of PPV sales if they booked Usman-Masvidal 2, White may opt to go in a different direction.
Covington is in talks to fight contender Leon Edwards next, and the winner could face Usman
The UFC supremo hailed Usman’s 2019 fight with arch rival Colby Covington as ‘one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen’ and as such may be tempted to run that fight back once more.
The American is certainly divisive among fans. He dons a Make America Great Again cap and is not shy in professing his admiration for former President Donald Trump, much to the annoyance of his fellow fighters.
Covington most recently defeated Woodley in emphatic fashion, and is in talks to take on Britain’s Leon Edwards after Khamzat Chimaev pulled out of their March 13 bout.
Edwards has been knocking on the door for a title shot for some time, and a win over Covington would put him in the driving seat for another bout with Usman, having suffered defeat by the champion back in 2015.
Georges St-Pierre is a left-field option, with Usman breaking his welterweight winning record
While Usman has victories over the aforementioned names, there remains one fighter who could return to reinforce his status as the greatest welterweight of all time.
GSP is one of the fiercest competitors to set foot in the octagon. The Quebecois has been heavily linked with a mega-fight with Nurmagomedov in a bid to become the first UFC fighter to win titles at three different weight classes.
But he could be tempted to make a return to his old stomping ground of 170 pounds to dish out a reminder to fans and pundits of his talent at welterweight.
Usman is entertaining a match up with the former welterweight and middleweight champion, insisting that he can ‘cut the line’ ahead of other contenders if he wishes to come out of retirement.
Whoever is next, fans and pundits will be wondering if they have what it takes to stop Usman
‘Of course, I would like Georges, but I don’t want Georges because of money or anything like that,’ Usman told reporters. ‘I’m a competitor. I want Georges because Georges left on top. Georges can still do it. I see him training.
‘Georges can still do it. So if there’s a potential for that big fight, if Georges wants to come back, then of course. Georges can cut the line. Absolutely.
‘If he wants to do it, you gotta come see me. He doesn’t want that, then that’s okay. More power to him, I respect the retirement because he’s done it all. He doesn’t need to come back for no reason.’
Masvidal would appear to be the frontrunner but there remains a host of options for Usman at welterweight. No matter who ends up setting foot in the octagon with him next, the question remains: Has anyone got what it takes to stop the Nigerian Nightmare?
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