At UFC 258, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman picked up another victory to break Georges St-Pierre’s record for most consecutive victories in the welterweight division, and he did so with the second stoppage of his title reign. These stoppages didn’t come against just anybody. They came against the men currently occupying the top two contender slots in the official UFC welterweight rankings.
With Kamaru Usman setting records and running through every opponent placed in his path to maintain an undefeated UFC record, you would think that his greatness would be universally recognized in the same manner as most other great before him or currently active. But many people still consider the dominant welterweight champion to be underrated.
Dana White Implies That Fans Who Underrate Usman Are Casuals
At the UFC 258 post-fight press conference, Dana White was asked about Kamaru Usman as an underrated fighter. Dana White prefaced his summative thoughts on this topic by pointing out that the UFC has data on the type of fans who buy UFC events and how frequently different groups of people purchase events. The president concluded that those who are “real” fans of the sport and not casual viewers will undoubtedly respect Kamaru Usman as a competitor.
“For anybody to say that Usman’s not (the real deal), you don’t know anything about fighting,” White said. “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. But if you know anything about fighting and you don’t think that Usman is, you really don’t know anything about fighting.”
Dana White has stated during the build-up to UFC 258 that he, too, wasn’t necessarily high on Usman, but that all changed after Usman’s first main event in a dominant, unanimous-decision victory over Rafael dos Anjos in 2018. And as far as Dana White is concerned, if Usman’s critics did not have a similar change of heart after the Colby Covington fight, it defies a logical explanation.
“If he doesn’t have the respect now, he should have got it after the Covington fight,” White said. “I can’t stop talking about the Covington fight. It’s one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen. Anybody who didn’t respect him after that, that’s your problem, not his.”
Kamaru Usman was very vocal about the topic of respect both immediately following his win over Gilbert Burns in the Octagon and in the post-fight press conference. Perhaps not everyone is as open to changing their opinion as Dana White was and there will always be a large population of fans who attempt to minimize him. But when all is said and done, history will have no choice but to carry his name with respect, even if many from his generation refused to do so.
Do you agree with Dana White? Are fans who underrate or disrespect Kamaru Usman casuals?