Kamaru Usman‘s middleweight debut didn‘t go as planned
After considering it for a couple of years, Kamaru Usman finally got the opportunity to move from welterweight to middleweight. When the UFC needed a short-notice replacement for Khamzat Chimaev — who was originally scheduled to share the Octagon with Paulo Costa at UFC 294 this past Saturday — Dana White and co. went to Usman, who was nearing a return to the Octagon. Despite coming in on 11 days‘ notice, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare‘ had a competitive fight with Chimaev. When the judges‘ scorecards were read, Chimaev toppled Usman via majority decision.
Though disappointed with the way the fight turned out, the ex-UFC champion hinted at staying in his new weight class for the foreseeable future.
“You know I’ll take a little bit of time, just a little bit and I’m back in the gym,” said Usman in his post-fight interview with Megan Olivi. “I don’t mind it. I think he’s [Chimaev] going to fight for the title. I’ll take [Dricus] du Plessis, co-main, UFC 300. Why not?”
Ex-UFC champ Robert Whittaker tells Usman to ‘stick around‘
Former UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker — who lost two bouts to long-time champ Israel Adesanya, but went on to beat a string of top contenders until Dricus Du Plessis stopped him this summer — encouraged the former welterweight champ to make himself at home in the division.
“I’m happy that Chimaev and Usman fight happened because it just adds more blood to the top of the game,” said Whittaker on his MMArcade podcast. “It adds more boys to the top of the charts, which is interesting. What’s next for Usman? Is he going to stay at middleweight? I don’t know, but that fight interests me. I like that fight. I’d fight a middleweight Usman. I don’t think it’s a bad fight to have.
“What are you going to do? Make Usman fight through ranks 30 to 20 to get in the top tier? Consecutive defending welterweight champion, he definitely deserves a fight at the top of the charts of the middleweight division,” continued Whittaker. How well he’ll do, we will see but seeing fresh blood at the top of the game, that’s interesting. I like it. Seeing Chimaev and Strickland fighting, that moves things around, I like it. Makes things interesting and exciting. I am here for it. I hope he stays. Stick around. It’s fun up here, mate.”
Is Whittaker vs. Usman a good fight?
Hell yea, I want to see Robert Whittaker vs Kamaru Usman at middleweight. Whittaker has fought a who’s who of the middleweight division and needs fresh meat to feed on.
“Bobby Knuckles” is also coming off a loss, as is Usman so someone will immediately be in the thick of the title chase in a division that’s suddenly been very shaken up by Sean Strickland’s shocking upset of long-time MW champ Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya had already lost the belt and won it back in a dramatic pair of bouts with his kickboxing nemesis Alex Pereira in 2022 and 2023. Before that Izzy won seven straight middleweight bouts and took a detour to unsuccessfully challenge Jan Błachowicz for the light heavyweight belt in 2021.
Now that the middleweight division is as wide-open as it’s been since Luke Rockhold beat Chris Weidman all the way back in 2015, it’s a great time for two ex-champs to fight for a chance to get into contention.
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