Kamaru Usman's '30% comment' paved the way for controversy for 'The Nigerian Nightmare' in 2018.
Kamaru Usman fought Emil Meek at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs Choi on January 14, 2018. Kamaru Usman exploited his prowess on the ground, winning the fight via unanimous decision. However, the manner in which he won the fight did not excite the fans, and they started booing. Kamaru Usman went on to give the post-fight interview, and said,
"I fought this fight sitting at about 30 percent. Everybody knows what I’m capable of. That was 30 percent right there, and I still dominated a tough so-called ‘Viking’, dominated him, and that was at 30 percent."
Kamaru Usman also went on to call-out his rival Colby Covington. But UFC President Dana White did not seem convinced with Kamaru Usman's performance. After the fight, he spoke to the media. Addressing Kamaru Usman's fight and '30 percent' comment, Dana White said,
"I didn’t love that fight. Yeah, he’s a tough guy. Yeah, he can impose his will. But you don’t jump up and start acting like you knocked somebody out and say you only went 30 percent. So (what does) that mean? What if you’re on pay-per-view? Do you use 60 percent? It’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard somebody say, and you’re getting booed out of the arena on top of it."
As for Kamaru Usman's call-out to Colby Covington, Dana White said,
"You just fought a guy who wasn’t ranked and went to a decision, and the people were booing you at the end. I don’t think that’s the right time to call a guy out, when they’re booing you out of the stadium."
Kamaru Usman clarified his '30 percent' comment after Dana White's outburst
After Dana White reacted to Kamaru Usman's comment, the MMA community was filled with critiques of Usman. Kamaru Usman took to Twitter to clarify what he meant by his comment. He wrote,
"Let me clear something up since some didn’t understand my post fight interview. What I meant was that I came into the fight at 30% health. I could’ve pulled out but I chose 2 stay the course & give (Emil Meek) his chance @ a top 10 guy. I fight anyone, anytime even at 30%."
Kamaru Usman dealt with the backlash to his comments for quite some time. In March 2018, two months after the incident, Kamaru Usman appeared in an episode of The MMA Hour. Addressing his comment and the backlash, he said,
"I meant I literally was maybe 30-percent of my abilities, which is what I stated, but of course, when you have a president that is so powerful like Dana White and he goes out in the media and says what he says, everyone just jumps on it. I swear if Dana says that, ‘You know what? An earthquake is going to happen tomorrow,’ everyone’s going to jump on it, ‘Oh, an earthquake’s going to happen tomorrow.’ That’s just the way that these UFC fans are. So once Dana said that, it was just the backlash of it and whatnot, but what I meant to say was I was at 30-percent health. Dana took it the wrong way, so fans took it the wrong way."