He may no longer be the UFC welterweight champion, but Kamaru Usman still considers himself a top draw. So much so that his list of options for his next fight are names that only elite competitors would likely be matched up against.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” recently spoke to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto to lay out his next plans. He mentioned three possible names for what he expects to be a pay-per-view headliner.
Kamaru Usman offers three big names for his next fight
Khamzat Chimaev was the first name that Usman dropped. Currently at 12-0 (6-0 in the UFC), the 28-year-old Sweden-based fighter has been jumping around between welterweight and middleweight. And the former champ is already excited with the idea.
“A fight with myself and Khamzat? Boom. I’m kind of in a place now where I’m having fun with it, and what’s the biggest, funnest, most intense fight that really makes me feel something? That’s a fight right there. That could headline a pay-per-view.”
For Kamaru Usman, size and weight won’t be an issue in a potential fight with the number-three ranked Chimaev.
“He’s a fighter and I’m a fighter at the end of the day,” he said of Chimaev. “I fight these guys’ hearts, not their weight. I’ve been able to deal with middleweights and light heavyweights in the gym.
“And if he wants a shot at the welterweight strap, you kind of have to give a little bit and show I can get down there and do it. But if it’s up a weight, potentially.”
Chimaev last fought at UFC 279 last September against Kevin Holland at a 180-pound catchweight after missing the welterweight limit by 7.5 pounds. He ended up winning the bout via submission inside one round.
Kamaru Usman lays out his other options
Stephen Thompson is the second name that Usman mentioned. The two men were on the same path and trajectory around the same time, but never got to cross paths.
“There aren’t a ton [of interesting] fights. I’m being honest with you. [Chimaev] is No. 1, biggest one out there. [Thompson] is the last guy from my era who I haven’t fought.
“We were kind of on a collision course and kept missing each other. That’s an intriguing fight. A crazy style to deal with.”
Then of course, there’s Conor McGregor, a name that most fighters enjoy mentioning. Usman already broached the possibility of a matchup, considering that “The Notorious” himself was also open to the idea.
“And a crazy one, Conor has always said he wanted a third title. When I was champion, you can’t just waltz up, skip everybody and fight for the belt. You have to show some legitimacy. What’s better legitimacy than fighting the No. 1 guy in the division?”
Usman remains unsatisfied with Leon Edwards trilogy
Usman’s title reign came to an end in 2022 via a late head kick knockout from Leon Edwards. He tried to reclaim the belt at UFC 286 in March, but this time fell short on the scorecards.
Now nearly two months removed from the fight, the 35-year-old veteran remains unsatisfied with the result.
“I still felt there was no finality to that fight. I mean, the rest of the world kind of feels like it, but you know, props to him that he has the belt but I need finality.
“I need you to show me you are better than me from start to finish.”
Usman is currently on a two-fight losing streak, a first in his career. His professional record stands at 20-3.
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