The 35-year-old is set to make the sixth defense of his welterweight title against Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC 278 in Salt Lake City. The bout will be a rematch of their 2015 meeting where Usman won a unanimous decision, and neither man has tasted defeat in the years since that fight.
Usman’s success as champion and his arguable pound-for-pound great status have made him one of the UFC’s current stars. Speaking at the UFC 278 media day, “The Nigerian Nightmare” was asked for his thoughts on Edwards’ claim that money has gone to the champion’s head.
“Everybody’s saying, ‘He’s Hollywood now.’ Guess what? When I was in college eating $5 Little Caesars pizza and I was surviving off of that for two days and eating ramen noodles for the whole week, you know what I did? I dreamt of getting to a point where I didn’t have to do that. I could walk into any steakhouse, order whatever I wanted on there. I could tell my mom and dad, ‘Hey, you guys want to go there? Gotchu. Let’s go there. You guys want to fly private? Gotchu, let’s do that.’ I always dreamt of that, and I always wanted that.”
Hard Work Pays Off
A perfect record in the world’s top MMA promotion doesn’t just happen by luck, and Usman knows he’s worked hard to get to his current position.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” entered Season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter with a 5-1 record and went on to win a UFC contract. Mohammed Usman recently followed in his older brother’s footsteps by winning TUF Season 30, but it will be a big ask to achieve the same level of success that Kamaru has had in the UFC.
The welterweight champion has already teased a possible move up to light heavyweight, but there are apparently bigger targets in his sights as well.
“So I put the work in to get to (this) point. I always wanted silk shirts. You know you wear those cotton shirts, you wash them once or twice (and) they shrink on you? Now, I can wear silk shirts. I always wanted that. Of course. I put the work in and I got that. But that doesn’t stop me. I want to be bigger than Dwayne Johnson. Bigger than him. So that means I need more work. So this notion when people say, ‘Oh, you’re Hollywood now; it’s going to his head,’ that is ridiculous to me. And if he’s thinking that, that’s the biggest misconception (and) it’ll be a short night for him come Saturday night.”
Usman’s rematch with Edwards will be the champion’s first bout of 2022. The 35-year-old is already 2-0 in rematches after he previously defeated Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington in his last two title defenses.
What do you make of Usman’s claim that he wants to be bigger than The Rock?