Kamaru Usman is still looking to challenge himself.
The former UFC welterweight champion finds himself in an unusual position after dropping back-to-back title bouts against Leon Edwards. Usman, 36, fully intends on regaining the belt he held from March 2019 to August 2022 but will have to do some significant work to justify a fourth outing with “Rocky.”
Usman recently revealed that big-name contender fights like his fellow top-ranked welterweight Khamzat Chimaev would make for an ideal pairing. Intrigued by the possible matchup, one-time light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith isn’t sure how favorable it would be for “The Nigerian Nightmare” at this stage.
“It’s a bold move, for sure,” Smith said on Believe You Me. “It says a lot about where he is mentally because I think a lot of people were kind of writing him off just a little bit and saying, ‘Oh, he’s done. He’s probably just gonna kind of fade off into retirement.’ But him wanting to fight Khamzat is the total opposite of that.
“That’s a tough fight for Kamaru if I’m just being very honest and fair with my analysis. I think what he does well kind of fits right into Khamzat’s game. I think maybe a younger less beat-up Kamaru, I think that fight’s a little bit different. He’s not as much of a wrestler as he used to be. He used to chase the takedown relentlessly. I don’t think he even has the capability to really do that anymore just with his knees and some of that stuff.”
Chimaev’s last time out left his future up in the air regarding which weight class he’d fight in. A competitor at both welterweight and middleweight throughout his impressive undefeated 12-fight run, Chimaev’s best work has come at 170 pounds where he’s established himself amongst the UFC’s ranks. However, his massive 7.5-pound weight miss at UFC 279 this past September led to a big shake-up atop the card. Going from Nate Diaz to Kevin Holland, Chimaev was still as dominant as ever, submitting “Trailblazer” with a first-round d’arce choke.
UFC President Dana White has insisted that Chimaev will be headed back up to 185 pounds following the UFC 279 turmoil. Ultimately, with the Usman matchup interest heating up between both fighters, it would present a possible stay for Chimaev at welterweight unless Usman decided to follow “Borz” up a division.
“I think it’s ballsy because of the style matchup,” Smith said. “Just the mentality to want to do that. I am curious though why Khamzat’s been on the shelf for so long. Because he’s seemingly been begging for fights, says he’ll fight anybody, anytime, is ready to go. Then Belal [Muhammad] has talked about fighting him at certain points, Kamaru’s ready to fight him. There is a couple people that are willing to step up and do it and for whatever reason just hasn’t happened so it seems like there’s something else going on in the background.”
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Crossover. Tyson Fury answers Dana White’s Jon Jones offer, insists on boxing match: ‘I don’t roll round the floor, I stand up and punch’
Change. Sean O’Malley’s coach believes UFC wants ‘Sugar’ to beat Aljamain Sterling: ‘UFC knows what they’re doing’
Smesh. Khamzat Chimaev blasts Colby Covington, Paulo Costa; declares himself ‘king’ of two divisions
Landscape. Randy Couture: Francis Ngannou signing to PFL should make every heavyweight consider free agency: ‘I think you’re crazy if you don’t’
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Matchmaking. Amanda Serrano has ‘no regrets’ but says Katie Taylor rematch probably won’t happen following Taylor’s loss
Between the Links.
RIZIN Confessions 124.
Pereira meets Fury.
Fancy Lock and Key.
Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses if Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kamaru Usman is the fight to make.
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Gabriel Bonfim (14-0) vs. Trevin Giles (16-4); UFC 291, July 29
Sinead Kavanagh (9-5) vs. Sara Collins (4-0); Bellator 299, Sept. 23
Luke Trainer (7-1) vs. Laurynas Urbonavicius (14-1); Bellator 299, Sept. 23
Mark Ewen (4-0) vs. Noah Gugnon (1-1); Bellator 299, Sept. 23
Kenny Mokhonoana (5-0) vs. Josh O’Connor (4-0); Bellator 299, Sept. 23
Chiara Penco (8-3) vs. Mackenzie Stiller (1-0); Bellator 299, Sept. 23
Nicolo Solli (5-1) vs. Romain Debienne (9-4); Bellator 299, Sept. 23
If Chimaev actually cares about making welterweight — which he appeared not to whatsoever last time — then Usman is a perfect dance partner. Middleweight needs him more though, honestly. That would then free up Usman for Shavkat Rakhmonov, who is now left in a weird spot. That’s also wishful thinking though.
Happy Friday, everyone. Hope you have a good long weekend. Thanks for reading!
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