LAS VEGAS – Kamaru Usman cemented his spot at the top of the UFC welterweight division and says it’s high time he got the credit he deserved.
Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) finished Gilbert Burns (19-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) with strikes in the third round of their main event title fight at UFC 258 at the UFC Apex and, during his post-fight press conference, “The Nigerian Nightmare” told reporters, including MMA Junkie, that he deserves more respect than he’s been getting so far in his career.
When asked who isn’t giving him respect, Usman stated, “Everyone. Critics, the media, all of them. Not that I really give a (expletive), but I give a (expletive). I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my (expletive). So put some respect on my name.”
Usman’s win against Burns extended his winning streak to 17 consecutive fights, with 13 of those coming under the bright lights of the UFC octagon. It’s a run that has seen him surpass the legendary Georges St-Pierre for the longest welterweight winning streak in UFC history, and Usman said that sort of stat should put him much higher in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.
“That pound-for-pound list is not a popularity contest, you know? I haven’t really lost rounds in here – I control what goes on inside the cage,” he said. “Just because I’m not the loudest guy in the room, I’m not the most braggadocious, I don’t get in trouble outside (the cage), I’m not in headlines all the time. Let’s be honest, they kind of disrespect me in a sense. That pound-for-pound list is not a popularity contest. I need to move up on that list.”
Usman may not be the biggest talker in the game, but when he speaks, he speaks his mind, and he admitted that he’d love to test his skills against the man considered the greatest welterweight of all time, Georges St-Pierre. But, rather than fight him for a huge payday, he wants to face GSP to see just how his own skills will compare with those of the Canadian legend.
“I take it one fight at a time. I’m not really worried about that,” he said. “I don’t come in (saying), ‘Ah, I want a big fight! I want this, I want that!’ Of course, I would like Georges. But I don’t want Georges because of money or anything like that. Like I said, I’m a competitor. I want Georges because Georges left on top. Georges can still do it. I see him training. Georges! I’m watching you! I see you training! Georges can still do it.
“So, if there’s potential for that big fight and Georges wants to come back, then of course, Georges can cut the line, absolutely. But I’m not necessarily worried about a big-money fight. Right now, I’m just worried about the next guy, and that’s what I do. I knock off the next guy and I knock off the next guy, then you guys look back and say, ‘(Expletive)! He’s beaten everybody!’ That’s what I’m focused on.”