Kamaru Usman has stated that he isn’t joking when he says he wants to move up to light heavyweight and challenge for the title after UFC 278.
He is already considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, and now he is aiming for the sixth defense of his welterweight title on Saturday. According to Usman, an immediate move up to 205 pounds is absolutely possible if he gets past Leon Edwards.
Usman actually seems to prefer that opportunity over any fight in his own division, including a meeting with rising star Khamzat Chimaev, who next clashes with Nate Diaz at UFC 279.
“I think any fight that I fight next is going to be a gigantic fight,” Usman said during the UFC 278 media day. “I’ve already stated that I want that light heavyweight belt. For a lot of people it’s crazy but a lot of things seem crazy until it’s done.
“I stated that I wanted it. After this win, [UFC President] Dana [White] and I will sit down and we’ll have a conversation.”
Usman promises he’s not clout chasing or just making outlandish statements to get attention, and he insists that a move up two divisions to challenge for a second title is what he wants to accomplish for his career.
“You guys think that I kid when I come up here?” Usman said. “I usually laugh when I’m kidding, but I’m not kidding. Everyone thought I was playing with the whole ‘Canelo’ situation. I wasn’t.
“I really wanted that. It’s something that I wanted. It didn’t come to fruition then, who knows what the future holds but that light heavyweight belt. I’m not saying I would run through the division, don’t get me wrong, but at the top, I think I can get it done.”
Jiri Prochazka is the current UFC light heavyweight champion, and it is likely he will have a rematch with Glover Teixeira in December.
It remains to be seen if the UFC would grant Usman’s wish. He also doesn’t seem too concerned over the logistics of transitioning from welterweight.
“I don’t need to put on no weight,” Usman said. “People don’t understand what my death grip is like. I can get around you. I don’t care whether you’re heavyweight or 205, these understand what my strength is. I have an idea what I want to do in a fight, but I leave that up to my coaches.
“I have an approach of how I want to fight those fights in my head, which usually comes out when everything else is failing in the fight, I just f—— go. However I want to fight, I’m going to fight it. I’m going to try the coaches’ way, this is what y’all dialed up, I’m going to do it but if everything is failing, f— it, let’s just go.”
Usman also stated that he’s not slamming the entire division as if he would just tear through everybody fighting at 205 pounds, which is why he is quick to reject the idea he could one day challenge Jon Jones, by far the longest-reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history.
“We’ve got to chill with these scenarios now,” Usman said. “Nah, Jon is Jon, he’s big as hell, which is why he can easily make that transition to heavyweight. If the money’s right, I’ll try my luck, but Jon is great. Jon is a fantastic competitor and definitely in that conversation as the best-ever.”