Usman is set to face Leon Edwards in the UFC 278 headliner on Aug. 20. It is a rematch years in the making after the two top welterweights squared off at the beginning of their respective UFC tenures.
Usman tops the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings following 19 straight professional wins. After securing the belt over Tyron Woodley at UFC 235, he’s defended his belt five times and is close to entering the conversation of the greatest UFC fighter of all time.
As Usman has accumulated fame and fortune, he’s become more open with how he sees the sport and his career. On fight night, he’s usually cool, calm, and collected as he gets ready to go toe-to-toe with his adversaries.
On the contrary, Usman recently admitted that two opponents have managed to lead him down an agitated approach to their fights.
Kamaru Usman Says Two Former Rivals Forced Him To Fight Angry
“Masvidal, it was more of a respect. He talked all this game, he talked ‘ yeah I’m the best striker, I’m the best boxer, I’m the best this and that, I can beat that dude on any given day,'” Usman said. “Because we fought twice. The first time it was one week’s notice, we flew all the way to Abu Dhabi and fought, and he said ‘Nah, I was out of shape. Give me six weeks and I know I can beat him’.
“So I asked for the fight the second time, I was a champion I didn’t have to fight him again, but that I what I asked for. I said nah I want that, I want him. You wanted time to be able to train? Here’s your time. And I gave him that time. That’s when we fought in Jacksonville, and it wasn’t… I could have dominated him like I did the first time, taken him down, beat his face in but nah. I wanted to send him to the shadow realm, I wanted to really put it on him. And I went out there and I told him and the interview when I asked for him, I told him this time, I’m gonna put you to sleep. And fast forward to when I put him to sleep.
“Now, in the other fight where I was angry when I fought Covington for the first time. That was the MAGA dude that was running around and he made it pretty much race-related,” Usman explained. “And in that fight, it didn’t matter where I went before the fight…I went to Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dominican Republic, and they ain’t even speak English. ‘You must kill this guy’… so in that fight, I could have taken him down I could have used tactics and got the win, but I knew nothing was going to satisfy the world unless we stood there and I really put my hands on him. And that’s what we did. We banged for four and a half rounds until I got him out of there.”
Usman’s two fights against Covington were seen as two of the most competitive title fights in recent UFC history, as opposed to his two matchups with Masvidal which were seen as relatively one-sided. He’s also earned a knockout of his former teammate, Gilbert Burns, during his title reign.
Athletes, and particularly MMA fighters, try to not allow emotions to control their performances due to the tendency to result in poor performances. Despite Usman’s heated approach to his fights with Covington and Masvidal, he was able to turn it into further cementing his standing as the pound-for-pound best.
What do you make of Kamaru Usman’s admission?