Anthony Smith Explains Why He Won’t Read Too Much Into Kamaru Usman’s Brace

UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith has looked to somewhat calm fears that Kamaru Usman may miss the upcoming London card.

Ever since losing the welterweight title in dramatic fashion at UFC 278, where England’s Leon Edwards secured a memorable come-from-behind victory courtesy of a fifth-round head-kick knockout, it’s appeared certain that “The Nigerian Nightmare” will have the chance for redemption in 2023.

And with the UFC’s first UK-held pay-per-view since 2016 being announced for March 18, the immediate consensus was that Edwards and Usman will collide for a third time in London later this year.

There may, however, be a stumbling block.

Last month, 170-pound veteran Stephen Thompson suggested that the promotion was searching for a new challenger to cross the pond due to a hand injury sustained by Usman, and an appearance at a recent mixed martial arts event stoked that fire.

While addressing the crowd at Face Off Fight Night 3, held in Lagos, Nigeria, late last month, Usman could be seen sporting a brace on his left hand.

Although many immediately suggested that the former champion likely underwent surgery and will not be able to make the UFC 286 card, one of Usman’s UFC peers isn’t reading too much into the 35-year-old’s supportive garment.

Smith Recalls Usman’s Condition Pre-UFC 1235

During a recent episode of Michael Bisping’s Believe You Me podcast, one-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith reacted to the latest evidence that could suggest a race against time for Usman to secure a rematch with “Rocky.”

“Lionheart” doesn’t believe the brace says as much as many believe, citing an instance prior to the UFC 235 card in 2019. While Smith challenged for Jon Jones‘ gold in the headliner, Usman dethroned Tyron Woodley at the same event.

With that, the pair spent some time together pre-fight completing their customary media duties. According to Smith, Usman wore a boot on one of his feet throughout the interactions with the press and went on to secure his championship crowning days later.

“I don’t know if that says anything,” Smith said. “I’ve been around Usman a bunch leading up to his fights. Like, him and I were doing media together, ’cause he won his title the same night that I fought Jon Jones for the title. He spent all four days leading up to the fight week, ’cause we had four days of media before that and we did it all together because we were both challengers, in a boot the whole time. A full boot from a hurt foot or something.

“I’ve seen multiple hand braces, but also in training camp. Who knows, he might have had surgery and might not be fighting, I don’t know. But he’s not the type of person that’s against wearing some sort of brace to help him get through, even if he is fighting,” Smith added.

Of note, Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz has also dismissed the rumors of a Kamaru Usman injury.

Whether in March or down the line, it appears certain that Usman’s next outing inside the Octagon will mark the chance to return to the throne, which he held through five defenses between 2019 and 2022.

What do you make of Anthony Smith’s take on Kamaru Usman’s hand brace?

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