Kamaru Usman become a world champion last month at UFC 235 when he dominated Tyron Woodley to leave no doubt who the new welterweight king is, but it was a long, arduous road to the top for Usman. The cliché posits that actions speak louder than words, but Usman is convinced that one of the reasons it took him so long to be granted opportunities is because of the one thing that speaks louder than action: money, which brings us full circle to the words that help generate it:
“Initially, at some point, I did,” Usman said on the Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show regarding his need to begin trash talking. “I was fighting the way I was fighting, I was dominating guys, and I was getting nowhere. It was like, no notoriety. They were kind of like, just kind of putting you on the wayside. And they would always tell me, oh, you’ll get a top-10 guy. You’ll get a top-10 guy. But it wouldn’t happen.
“So for a while, I just felt like, man, I guess I just gotta do this. Because you saw it, the other clown, Covington, he had to do that. Nothing has changed with the way that he fights. He’s done the exact same things since he’s been in the UFC. But after those first couple fights, no one gave a shit. So he felt, you know what, nah, I’m just gonna have to start doing this.”
Due to the seemingly overnight shift in personality of Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman is certain that it is no secret that Colby Covington’s ultra-heel trash-talking persona is a façade, and while it may be the talking that, to some extent, carries more weight than action in MMA, Usman vows to be different than Colby Covington and not sell out.
“Everyone knows it’s fake because he just one day woke up and started doing it,” Usman said of Covington. “And that’s the thing now. People try to say you have to do that.
“But for me, what I’m not gonna do is, I’m not gonna just sell my soul just to…’oh, yeah, I’m just trying to earn a couple bucks.
“I’m not gonna do that. I’m going to do it the right way.”
As the new head of the welterweight division, Kamaru Usman may be the face of the present, but he has a generational name from the past to serve as an example that the right path is indeed walkable:
“Georges did it the right way,” Usman said of welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre. “And I’m a firm believe that when you do it the right way, you will earn what you deserve. It will come to you at some point.”
How much of a difference do you believe trash talk plays in the advancement of a UFC fighter’s career?