Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Usman Remembers The Year That Changed His MMA Career

Kamaru Usman has had a long road to the top of the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, and he says there’s one significant year that changed the trajectory of his MMA career.

The 35-year-old recently appeared on the podcast First Class Fatherhood and was asked if having a daughter had changed his perspective on life or his fighting career. “The Nigerian Nightmare” hadn’t been competing in MMA very long when he found out he’d be a father, and he remembers clearly how he felt in that moment.

“I think 2013, November or December, I get hit with the news,” Usman said. “And my heart just — you know as a man, those things, there’s few things that stop you in your tracks, and it stopped me in my tracks. I’m like, ‘Wait, I have $17 in my bank account. I’m living with a friend. How am I ever gonna be able to do this?’ I guess it was just God’s plan. And at that time, I was doing nothing but training. I didn’t care about anyone, anything, doing anything. It was just training.”

Usman’s impending fatherhood ended up being just the start to a year of significant change. The news about his daughter arrived shortly before Usman received his chance to break into the UFC.

Usman appeared on Season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter and went on to win the show. (Zuffa LLC)

“All of a sudden within that year, me finding out I was gonna be a father, I have two professional fights. To where now I’m being put into The Ultimate Fighter show. I’m winning The Ultimate Fighter show… I’m getting my own place, moving in with my family, and now starting to make money and create my own life. Within that one year, which was so ridiculous for me.”

Usman was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 21 and immediately hit the ground running in the UFC. After the show ended, he went on an 8-0 run that culminated in a shot at welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in 2019.

“The Nigerian Nightmare” took Woodley’s title in one of the most lopsided UFC title fights in recent memory, and he’s now defended the belt 5 times. Usman is expected to make his sixth title defense against Leon Edwards at UFC 278 in August.

What do you think of the year that Kamaru Usman claims changed his MMA career?

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