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5 things Kamaru Usman needs to do to eclipse GSP as the greatest welterweight of all time

What does Kamaru Usman have to do to step out of GSP
What does Kamaru Usman have to do to step out of GSP's shadow?
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 15 Feb 2021
Top 5 / Top 10
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Kamaru Usman stamped his authority as the best active welterweight on the planet by finishing Gilbert Burns via TKO in Round 3 at UFC 258. After a start which left many thinking it was going to be Burns via KO/TKO in the early minutes of Round 1, The Nigerian Nightmare showed true championship mettle and fortitude to survive the initial onslaught. He then battered the #1 contender with a jab that was as stiff as they come from either stance.

There are many parallels between Kamaru Usman and GSP: from both having a game-changing jab, being technical in all aspects of the fight game, to the extent of people not realizing their greatness while they’re still active.

Usman walked proudly around the octagon after his win over Burns, loudly proclaiming “put some respect on my name!” and we couldn’t agree more.

On Saturday, Kamaru Usman broke GSP’s record for the longest win streak at UFC Welterweight with 13 straight wins.

This man could go on to dethrone GSP as the greatest welterweight we’ve ever seen, but here’s 5 things we believe he needs to do in order to clinch that title successfully:

#5 Title Reign

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman

This is a tough one, given Kamaru Usman’s age. He will be 34 years old in May, and fighting is a young man’s game. We believe he’s only just coming into his absolute prime, but he doesn’t have too many years left. GSP’s combined reign is about 2,234 days but his longest was 2,064 days at a stretch. 2nd March 2021 will be exactly 2 years since Usman won the title from Tyron Woodley.

That’s about 730 days, which means Kamaru Usman will have to hold on to his title for almost 4 more years to beat GSP’s title reign. That’s quite an ask for a 34 year old fighter, but it's not impossible.

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#4 Finish Opponents

This is another parallel that could be drawn between Usman and GSP, wherein they both face flak from critics and fans alike for being “point-fighters” or “decision-fighters”.

Kamaru Usman recently finished Burns at UFC 258 and finished Covington in one of the best fights ever, but still tends to face criticism particularly for not finishing Masvidal and a lot of earlier opponents whom he beat convincingly, but won via decision.

That could perhaps also explain the callout to Gamebred in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.

#3 Keep Evolving

Kamaru Usman has been getting better as a champion
Kamaru Usman has been getting better as a champion
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The mixed martial arts world is one that is constantly evolving at a manic pace. Whether it’s the wrestling or the use of those lethal calf kicks, fighters are adapting and evolving to include more and more styles and weapons in their arsenal.

Kamaru Usman is a phenomenal athlete and clearly the best welterweight in the world right now. But if he has to keep that title reign up, he needs to keep that same work and learning ethic he has and put it into leveling up every single day.

The move to Colorado to train with Trevor Whittman in preparation for Burns was clearly a great one towards that end.

#2 Climb up the P4P list

This one is honestly not so much in his hands, as much as the hands of those making the P4P rankings, but a case can still be made for it.

Kamaru Usman is currently #5 on the men’s pound-for-pound list, whereas GSP reigned supreme at #1 in his heyday. If Kamaru Usman truly wants to silence all counters and proclaim himself the greatest welterweight the world has seen yet, he has to find a way to climb to the very top of that P4P list.

#1 Rack up the title defenses

Kamaru Usman has to continue on his path of dominance
Kamaru Usman has to continue on his path of dominance
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This is the Holy Grail. One stat against which all present, former and future champions will be measured. This is the reason Jon Jones and Mighty Mouse are 'GOAT'- ed in most conversations, and this is what will truly set Kamaru Usman in a league of his own.

GSP has 12 wins in welterweight title bouts and 9 consecutive title defenses. Kamaru Usman is unbeaten in the UFC, currently riding a 4-fight win streak in welterweight title bouts with 3 defenses. He needs 6 more defenses to equal GSP’s 9, and a 7th to surpass it.

This is a tall ask but one that Kamaru Usman may very well be able to accomplish, considering his next fights could be rematches with Jorge Masvidal, Leon Edwards, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington, all of whom he has beaten convincingly.

Published 15 Feb 2021, 18:58 IST
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