Nigerian American current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has had a glittering career in the UFC from the moment he stepped foot inside the octagon. Since his 2015 debut, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’s’ faultless record and his consistent performances ensure that he is the sports betting favourite for any of his recent matchups.
Only once in his 21 bout campaign has he entered a match as the underdog on the ticket and that was against the then dominating Tyron Woodley in their 2019 title fight and Usman’s first shot at the belt. Conversely, it was Usman that would dominate that night, landing in excess of 300 more strikes, completing the only 2 successful takedowns and winning every round by unanimous decision; in doing so he became the first African born champion in UFC history. His knockout punch against Masvidal will go down in history and Usman looks set to make more.
(Usman knocked out Masvidal in brutal fashion)
The Story So Far
Born in Auchi, Nigeria in 1987, Kamaru is one of three brothers, the youngest of which, Mohammed, also pursued a career in MMA. His family moved to Texas, USA when Kamaru was eight years old, which gave him the opportunity to excel at high school wrestling.
Continuing the sport at the University of Nebraska, he would place in the top three in the country for each of the three years he attended and become the NCAA division 2 national champion in 2010.
After his first exposure to MMA and his first taste of defeat in the sport by submission in the opening round, he would go on to win four consecutive encounters which booked him a spot on the 21st season of The Ultimate Fighter. Upon winning the series and being awarded a UFC contract, Usman would embark on an undefeated advancement through the ranks to his present-day seat at the top of the ladder.
The 170 pound champion has successfully defended his title twice against Colby Covington, twice against Jorge Masvidal, against his former training partner Gilbert Burns and also against former champion and division legend Georges St-Pierre.
Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington 2 (UFC 268)
Usman’s most recent bout defending his title for the second time against Covington was a thriller. As is often the outcome when two master grapplers face off against one another, the fighters resorted primarily to striking.
The judges all agreed Covington only took the fourth round and unanimously found in favour of Usman, but it was no blowout. The hatchet has finally been buried between these two and UFC’s biggest rivalry put to bed – in doing so Usman has established himself as arguably the best pound for pound fighter on the planet.
Kamaru Usman’s Training Regime
Dana White has recently announced Usman’s next fight will come in the form of British-Jamaican Leon Edwards. The pair have met before on a 2015 card where Usman was declared victorious by unanimous decision, but Edwards managed to put the accomplished wrestler in some precarious holds in the grapple.
As ever, Usman will not take previous encounters to mean he can take it easy in the lead up to the fight, not least because his opponent is sitting on a nine consecutive win streak since his defeat against Usman in 2015. As a result, Usman has been approaching training with the same discipline and motivation that he has become known for.
As a carry-over from his wrestling days, Usman was squatting 230kg and benching 165kg, but he needed to convert that raw power into more functional sport specific strength. Pulling and pushing remain an important part of his routine but are now combined with sled sprints and explosive medicine ball pushes.
Usman rises at 6:30am every morning regardless of training routine and has an early bedtime the night before, a habit he formed at highschool, he says. A typical day’s training in the lead up to a big fight includes sparring, high altitude training and, as a naturally bulkier somatotype, a regimen of cardiovascular endurance-based work.
Kamaru’s striking game was something that needed attention when he first made the transition to MMA from freestyle wrestling but now, under the tutelage of Trevor Whitman he’s proficient in the discipline. Usman also boasts a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Kamaru Usman’s Diet
His team of dieticians and nutritionists have opted for a meal plan revolving around high levels of carbohydrate to fuel not only his endurance but also his training regime. Protein intake is important to maintain his strength, muscle recovery and lean mass but it’s important that Usman doesn’t bulk up. He reportedly had to lose 15lbs in one night to reach the 170lb weight limit for his category.
Fans are keen to see if anyone can challenge the supremacy of Usman at this point as he approaches GSP’s most successful UFC welterweight in history record, and his face off against Edwards will be an acid test of this. However, recent rumours have circulated that Edwards has been offered ‘step aside money’ in order for Connor McGregor to take his comeback shot at the title.
“Freelance web ninja. Wannabe communicator. Amateur tv aficionado. Twitter practitioner. Extreme music evangelist. Internet fanatic.”