Kamaru Usman will find himself in an unfamiliar position on Saturday night.
Instead of defending the UFC welterweight championship, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ will be challenging after his last appearance inside the Octagon ended in disaster. Reigning titleholder Leon Edwards delivered one of the greatest comebacks in combat sports history, delivering a brutal head kick to then-champion Kamaru Usman with less than a minute remaining in their UFC 278 headliner.
Seven months removed the two will run it back, completing a trilogy eight years in the making. Ahead of Saturday’s highly anticipated showdown, Usman sat down with Nik Hobbs of SkySports to discuss his mindset coming off his first loss in nearly a decade. Asked if his confidence has waned whatsoever since his August defeat, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ said:
“No. It never left. You saw the fight. It never left. It is what it is. I got hit with the hail mary. A technique that one in a million times could land. That wasn’t the only time he threw that in the fight. I blocked the rest. It was just something that went his way and more power to him and I commend him. I’m happy for what it did, but at the end of the day, him and I know.”
As for his feelings toward Leon Edwards, Kamaru Usman harbors no ill will but has taken exception to some of the champ’s comments since their last encounter.
“I’ve never been disrespectful with Leon. If anything, I’ve been the only guy who’s given him respect all throughout his career and so, I’ve never been disrespectful and I’m not gonna start now. He hasn’t said… Well, he’s said a couple things now that have offended me, but I’ll talk to him about that on Saturday night.”
Usman did not detail the specific comments he took offense to, but in his own SkySports interview, Leon Edwards did refer to his rival as both old and injury-prone.
— DEUCE P 🪖 | 🇭🇹 (@NotPremi) March 13, 2023
Kamaru Usman Forced to Postpone Plans for Potential Crossover Bout with Canelo Alvarez
With five UFC welterweight title defenses in the bag, Kamaru Usman began looking at opportunities to line his pockets outside of the promotion. That included a potential meeting with boxing icon Canelo Alvarez. Of course, Leon Edwards threw a monkey wrench in those plans. Usman recognizes that he has business to handle with ‘Rocky’ on Saturday night, but is looking to take every opportunity while he still can.
“I’m a realist. When you’re in a certain place and time, we’re just pushing the envelope or trying to challenge yourself and at that point, I was in a place where there was just nothing left for me. So what else can I do to challenge myself? Okay, if we can get Canelo, let’s go do Canelo. I want to experience that. If he does win, he wins, but I experienced it.
“It’s part about living life and just enjoying the ride. That’s living life to the fullest, when I can cross over and challenge this superstar, why not do it? But it’s not the place and time where we’re at right now. Right now we’re at this place where he got a guy, Leon Edwards, in front of us and we’re gonna go take care of him Saturday night.”