The 31-year-old has been competing for only six years following his strong wrestling career at the University of Nebraska. Usman is a three-time All-American champion as well as Division II National titleholder from his senior year.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” initially had dreams of an Olympic career, however, the temptation to change to MMA began forcing its way forward, Following an invitation to train with what would become the Blackzilians in South Florida, Usman embarked on his MMA journey.
Usman told FanSided.com that he’s been preparing for fights as big as the one this Saturday night (May 19):
“My mentor is ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans and I’ve been on the road with him,” said Usman. He served as an understudy with Evans among other skilled veterans.
“I’ve done this whole process with him countless times, including where he’s headlining a pay-per-view and I did his media tour with him, I did the workouts with him, I traveled with him, so I’ve seen it first-hand. He’s essentially prepared me for these moments and so how ironic is it that to fly out to get here, he drove me to the airport?”
Usman was getting huge praise and hype from his teammates before he inked a deal with the UFC. It is his humble and “work harder than all” approach that has seen him soar through the welterweight division.
Facing long battles with former champions and consistent contenders, it has allowed Usman to become an extremely well-rounded fighter. It has also filled him with self-belief and confidence in himself.
Saturday night in Chile is another chance for Usman to showcase his abilities and make another step up in the ladder in the division. Standing across from him is Maia, a formidable grappler and recent challenger for the welterweight title. Usman has been angling for this fight for a couple of years now.
“Demian Maia is Demian Maia – he’s a legend in the game and he’s been in the game a long time. Nothing but respect for him, but it’s my time to take over and showcase that it’s my time now.”
Should Usman defeat the Brazilian, he’d be 12-0 with eight straight wins in the UFC. Surely this would propel him to being in the talks for a title fight.
Does Kamaru Usman get the job done at UFC Chile?