As the dust settled on an incredible UFC 261, fight fans left Jacksonville Arena last Saturday with some interesting food for thought.
Kamaru Usman obliterated Jorge Masvidal, finishing the contest in the second round with a highlight reel knockout. The Nigerian Nightmare has now successfully defended his welterweight title four times, with two of those bouts coming against Gamebred. All 13 of Usman’s UFC fights have essentially been flawless; his last professional MMA loss was almost eight years ago.
A rematch with Colby Covington seems to be in the cards. Assuming the result is business as usual for The Nigerian Nightmare, what comes next for the man considered the new pound-for-pound king?
Let’s have a look at three reasons why Kamaru Usman can dominate the UFC middleweight division.
Collegiately, Usman was the 2010 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Champion, competing at 174 pounds. He also frequently wrestled at 84 kilograms. Even his early professional MMA record contained a catchweight fight at 180 pounds. He won that fight via TKO in round one.
It is safe to say that The Nigerian Nightmare would feel comfortable competing at middleweight. It is a scary thought, but perhaps his welterweight domination was just an appetizer, and the main course is middleweight domination in the UFC.
Kamaru Usman’s UFC career has been nothing short of spectacular. In 13 fights, he has 13 victories - four of those via stoppage and the rest all unanimous decisions. His octagon resume boasts wins over Rafael dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal (twice).
These are the names of elite MMA fighters, and it is fair to say that none of them have even come close to beating The Nigerian Nightmare. With this kind of pedigree, it is difficult to see any of the current middleweights posing a serious challenge to his legacy - except perhaps Israel Adesanya.
1. UFC Legacy
The MMA world has been drooling over a potential Francis Ngannou/Jon Jones superfight since The Predator became UFC heavyweight champion last month. Although this would indeed be a superfight, the bout would only feature one pound-for-pound king [Jones].
Two current UFC fighters, both considered by many as the pound-for-pound best, could very well be the ultimate superfight. Usman is a fighter who cares about legacy and is always looking to challenge himself in the octagon. There is no greater challenge in the world for Usman than Israel Adesanya.
Styles make fights, and superstyles make superfights. The draw of this fight alone is a good reason to move up to the middleweight division. Adesanya himself had tried to move up in weight for a greater challenge when he lost to Jan Blachowicz earlier this year. Unfortunately, that was a step too far.
There are currently three African champions in the UFC. If the organization is looking to increase their following in Africa, then what better than a Nigerian superfight in Lagos?
In just one fight, Usman could immediately impose his dominance over the middleweight division.