Kamaru Usman is healing, but the UFC welterweight champion is not ready to fight yet.
Usman underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in his right hand following his unanimous decision win over Colby Covington in their championship rematch at UFC 268 this past November. The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ recently revealed he has started to ‘make light contact’ with his hand in training but still needs more time to recover.
Usman spoke to John Morgan of the Underground and explained why a tendon issue had delayed his return. Though anxious to fight again, he does not want to rush his recovery and potentially re-injure himself — or worse.
“I actually saw the doctor last week, and what I was hoping was for the doctor to say, ‘Hey, all right, back to full-go,’ but he expressed to me that this was a tendon issue,” said Usman. “The issue with tendons is there is no blood flow there, especially when they’re in your hands. So it takes a lot longer and not just that way. It’s also right on top of my knuckle. It’s right on that money maker right there. This is the one that I’m going to be able to make contact with very, very quick.
“If I don’t give it the appropriate time to heal properly, then I’m just going to split that right back open and I’m out for a whole year, potentially worse,” continued Usman. “[I could] do irreparable damage to my hand to where I couldn’t potentially fight again. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take right now. I love my career. I love being able to do what I just did in 2021, being able to fight more, being the most active champion there was. I love being able to do that. That was a fun time for me, so if I’m not healthy, I’m not able to even step in there and fight at all.”
A rematch against Leon Edwards could be next for Usman when he returns. Edwards has earned his championship opportunity after going 9-0-1 since losing a unanimous decision to Usman at UFC on FOX 17 six years ago.
Usman vs. Edwards 2 was rumored for International Fight Week in July, but that is no longer feasible given the situation with the champion and his hand. A return at a pay-per-view event in August was also teased; however, Usman has thrown cold water on that, too.
“We’ll see,” said Usman. “The thing about me is I’ve always wanted to be that guy to where I was always a couple weeks away from a fight. I’m always a couple weeks away from a fight if I really want to. Now I’m in a position to where I want to make sure that I’m putting out the best product that I can put out each and every time that I step in there. So in order to do that, I need adequate time to be able to prepare for a guy and go out there and deliver performances. I’m listening to the doctors. I’m making sure that I’m healthy and once I’m healthy, I will be the first one back in there.”
An official timeline has not been set, but Ali Abdelaziz — manager of Usman — has said he will fight by the end of the year.
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