Kamaru Usman would love to fight a top 10 opponent.
That’s the message the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner continued to pass along to the UFC matchmakers after each of his wins inside the Octagon but somehow he still hasn’t faced a ranked opponent.
This weekend in Pittsburgh, Usman will face fellow reality show alum Sergio Moraes, who is certainly a worthy opponent but not a ranked fighter according to the UFC.
It was a year ago when Usman was calling out submission specialist Demian Maia while proudly proclaiming that he would out grapple arguably one of the greatest ground technicians of all time. Still, Usman never got the call so he’s just continued to plow through whoever the UFC gives him despite his desire to finally face a ranked opponent.
“In a sense, it’s a bit frustrating,” Usman admitted when speaking to MMAWeekly. “Each and every fight is challenging and I never overlook an opponent. I learned that lesson early on in my career. Each fight is challenging but in this sport for the casual fan and the people who don’t understand or know that much about MMA, they want to look at the rankings and they believe these are the best 10 or 15 guys in the world. For me, I understand it doesn’t really matter. I’ve beat guys who have beat guys in the rankings so the rankings don’t really mean that much but to the casual fan and just people watching at home, it does make a difference.
“So I’ve asked for those top guys but for some reason they don’t want to give me those top guys.”
Perhaps what bugs Usman even more is that while he’s been taking out every opponent the UFC throws in his path while routinely asking for tougher competition, another welterweight prospect named Colby Covington has been getting the fights and making the most with the airtime the promotion affords him.
Now Usman isn’t jealous of Covington in any way, shape or form and he celebrates the fact that the American Top Team fighter is getting top 10 matchups, but he just wants to be afforded the same types of opportunities.
Of course in addition to Covington’s impressive wins lately, he’s also gone on a verbal tirade taking aim at everybody in the division including current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who also happens to be his teammate in Florida.
Usman won’t fault Covington for what he’s been saying to land the fights he’s received, but the 29-year old Nigerian fighter refuses to say outlandish statements just to get attention.
“It’s just the society we live in now. It’s a society where “Love and Hip-Hop” is the biggest show on television. Where people are just being catty and saying whatever they want, that’s the remedy for what’s getting attention these days. I’m not that guy. Of course I’m going to state fact and tell you how I feel because I’m not a fake person but I was born and I was raised with respect,” Usman said.
“I understand there’s an aspect of promoting and I think I’m going to be damn good at promoting fights but I’m not going to be fake about it. Like Colby Covington, are you kidding me? All this guy does is watch WWE tapes. I’m sure he’s a super nice guy. I ran into him at the airport one time. He was super nice but if he wants to put on this charade and talk all this trash and make up all these silly e-mails and things he’s doing, that’s fine. It just seems like that’s what’s getting him fights. That’s him. I’m not that person. I’m not fake.”
Perhaps the best way Usman can explain his approach would be quoting the 2007 film “American Gangster” when Denzel Washington’s character admonishes his brother in the movie for dressing flashy and drawing attention to himself for no reason.
“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”
“That’s one of my favorite quotes of all time,” Usman added. “I don’t have to be the loudest one in the room to get noticed. I’ll let my work speak for itself.”
Usman plans on going out and dominating Moraes the same way he’s done his last few opponents but whether it gets him a top 10 fight afterwards is still unknown. The only thing Usman can guarantee is that when he gets on the microphone following the win is that he’ll be genuine with each and everything he says.
“I’m going to go in there and do what I do best and that’s beat someone up and make it look easy,” Usman said. “And at the end of the day, yes this is for the fans and for the spectators and we want to put on a show but I have to be in my own skin.
“I have to look in the mirror and know what I said to get where I’m at.”