Kamaru Usman is not impressed with what he’s seeing in his division.
The welterweight champion doesn’t see a clear contender lining up behind title challenger Gilbert Burns, who fights Usman on Feb. 13 in the main event of at UFC 258 in Las Vegas. Usman (17-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) is respecting Burns (19-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) as a challenger, but looking at what could potentially be next if successful in his third title defense, “The Nigerian Nightmare” just doesn’t see a clear contender in line for the title.
“None of them have really broke out where it’s like, ‘This guy is next for me,’” Usman told MMA Junkie. “So they’re kind of in that thick and in that picture where they’re basically trying to make themselves the next guy up.
“Right now, my focus on is Gilbert Burns. He’s stated that this is a fight that he wants. He believes that he’s that guy, so all my focus is on him. At this point, I see nothing past getting the job done against him. But after that, there’s really no one that stands out. I know (Colby) Covington and (Jorge) Masvidal are kind of pit together where someone goes out there and does something spectacular, the guy … could be the next guy.
“Or (Leon) Edwards and (Khamzat) Chimaev – someone does something spectacular there, they could be the next guy. Of course (I’m) paying attention, but no one really stands out as the next guy.”
Usman holds wins over Masvidal, Covington and Edwards, and a victory over Buns on Feb. 13 would mean he would have wins over four of the five fighters currently ranked in the top five of the UFC’s official welterweight rankings.
Usman knows things could change and hopes that a fighter stands out from the pack, but he’s not stressing over it. For now, Usman is the champion and it’s no longer his job to campaign for a championship fight.
“That’s the thing I had a problem with for years and years, trying to make my way up and all these guys saying, ‘No, I don’t want to fight him because he’s a very high risk and low reward,’” Usman said. “But now, I’m a position that I don’t need to call guys out. You guys have to come to me because I have what you guys think you want.”