Despite losing his UFC welterweight title and having his promotional record blemished for the first time, Kamaru Usman has suggested that another moment gave him a worse feeling than his defeat to Leon Edwards did.
As we head towards another pay-per-view offering from the MMA leader this weekend in Las Vegas, a lot of talk still remains about what went down in Utah last time out. Inside the Vivint Arena, the lengthy and dominant rule of Usman came to an end courtesy of a mighty come-from-behind effort from Edwards.
Down on the scorecards and a minute away from a failed championship challenge, “Rocky” launched a perfectly set-up head kick, turning out Usman’s lights and cementing himself as only the second UK titleholder in UFC history.
But despite suffering his first setback inside the Octagon, the opening KO defeat of his career, and losing his status as pound-for-pound number one — not to mention the fact that he was seconds away from a certain sixth successful defense — Usman has remained upbeat since the result.
As well as that being the case in the immediate aftermath, “The Nigerian Nightmare” hasn’t let his positivity slip since, even now suggesting that the moment in Salt Like City isn’t the worst of his mixed martial arts career.
Usman Reveals UFC Lightweight ‘Beat His Ass’
Usman recently appeared on episode #128 of the JRE MMA Show, hosted by UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, to discuss his career and recent rematch with “Rocky” Edwards.
Discussing veteran UFC lightweight Michael Johnson, who Usman trained with at both the now-defunct Blackzilians gym and the Sanford MMA facility (now Kill Cliff FC), the former welterweight king named “The Menace” as the first man to drop him.
Despite what was at stake when Edwards achieved the feat, Usman claimed that he felt worse when it happened at the hands of then-teammate Johnson.
“The weird thing about Michael Johnson is he doesn’t look the part. He (has) long limbs; they look skinny, but he’s got speed and power,” Usman said. “Until Leon, Michael’s the only guy that’s ever dropped me, sat down. And well, I felt worse after that than I do now after the Leon situation.”
When a baffled Rogan questioned that revelation, Usman noted that, unlike through four rounds against the newly crowned champion, he was getting convincingly beaten by Johnson during their training session.
“Yeah, because (Johnson) beat my ass. Mike beat my ass that sparring session,” Usman admitted. “It was early on. I think maybe I was in the second year of training MMA, and Michael was getting ready for a fight. He’s in the UFC at this point. And he’s like maybe two, three, weeks out.
“And we’re sparring and sparring and I’m trying to fake it. I’m the bigger guy, so I’m trying to — I didn’t find a groove. I didn’t have a groove at this point. I was just a guy who could wrestle and throw punches.” Usman added.
Recalling the sparring exchange, “The Nigerian Nightmare” said that he couldn’t keep up with the pace and conditioning of Johnson, who boasts wins over Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza, and Tony Ferguson inside the Octagon.
Usman also noted that former light heavyweight titleholder Rashad Evans was recording the session, so should the pair ever fall out, perhaps some clips of the Nigerian getting dropped will emerge…
“And Mike, his feet. He’s touching me, he’s touching me. He starts slow, then he starts picking up the pace,” Usman recalled. “And then I was gasping for air, and we’re fuckin’ two minutes in. And he’s just peppering me, and now he starts to land shots, and they’re getting harder, and harder, and harder. Now we’re three minutes in and I’m waiting for the bell to go off, but no, we’re still stuck in here.
“And at that point, I sparred with headgear. So I’m like, ‘No, fuck this headgear. It’s getting in my way! That’s what’s causing it.’ But no, Mike was just beating my ass. So I take the headgear off and we’re still going, and he just puts a combination on me — bing, bing, bing — sits me down. And I fall on my hand and I roll over. And this is how fucked up it is. Rashad (Evans) had the whole thing recorded and had it on his phone forever!” Usman said whilst laughing. “And so I fell and we’re home that night and Rashad’s replaying it and showing me how I fell. (LAUGHS)”
While the clip is yet to surface, and is certainly unlikely to, footage does exist of Johnson and Usman sparring at the Blackzilians gym. Given how hard the pair were throwing before they get separated, it’s little surprise that their exchanges ended with one man on the mats.
Are you surprised that the loss to Leon Edwards isn’t Kamaru Usman’s worst career moment?