There’s a chance fighting at middleweight was more than a one-off for former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Usman, an all-time great at 170 pounds, recently moved up to the middleweight division when he replaced an injured Paulo Costa to fight Khamzat Chimaev in the co-main event of UFC 294. Usman (20-4 MMA, 15-3 UFC) took Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) on less than two weeks’ notice and ended up losing a competitive majority decision.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” felt good debuting at 185 pounds and might stay there for the next chapter of his career.
“The plans, I don’t know. It’s kind of fogy,” Usman said on his YouTube channel. “I didn’t mind being up at 185. Yeah, of course the size was a bit different in the beginning, but I’m a championship level fighter, so from here on out, we want to make these five rounds and not three rounders. I don’t know, 185 looked good on me, so we might. We’ll get back to y’all on that.”
The fight against Chimaev was not only the first time Usman competed at middleweight but also the first time he fought three rounds in more than five years.
Usman believes that, under better conditions and with 10 more minutes of fighting, the result against Chimaev might’ve been different.
“Not give up takedowns,” Usman said regarding why he lost. “He grabbed and I couldn’t defend. My knee, I was like, ‘F*ck, my knee. I was like, The f.’
“But he was strong, but I gave him too much respect in there. I’m like, ‘He’s strong, but I fought strong guys before. I’m stronger than him.’ I gave him too much mentally, and I was trying to catch up, trying to catch up, but I don’t have those extra two rounds that I (usually have) to catch up. By the third round I was like, ‘OK, I’m feeling good.’ And then the fight is over.”