Kamaru Usman got the win he sought at UFC 245, weathering some early adversity to stop his ferocious challenger Colby Covington in the fifth round. According to the newly retired Ben Askren, however, Usman made one key blunder at UFC 245: He fibbed to the fans in his post-fight interview.
Early on in his interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Usman claimed that he was too mentally tough to be phased by Covington’s pre-fight trash talk. Shortly thereafter, he attributed his early blunders in the fight to being too emotional due to Covington’s pre-fight trash talk.
Askren believes this was problematic.
Where Marty missed! https://t.co/6NTqofnkAh
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) December 16, 2019
“The first question to [Usman] is, ‘over the past X amount of months since this fight’s been signed, did Colby’s trash talk get to you at all,'” Askren said in a video posted to his social media channels. “[Usman] essentially answers, ‘no it did not, I am the most mentally tough guy in this division.’ Something to that effect.
“Then, two questions later, they ask some question — I should probably search this — about why Colby was getting the better of him early on. [Usman] said something like like ‘I got too emotional.'”
Ben Askren sees this kind of inconsistency as an issue that will make it difficult for Kamaru Usman to gain traction with the fans.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Askren said. “You just tried to say in the first question that you don’t get shook at all and it didn’t bother you, and then two questions later you admit that you got emotional and it did bother you. It’s really simple. People don’t want to be lied to. They don’t want to be lied to! People want genuineness.”
Askren concluded by giving his take on how Usman could have handled these questions better.
“Listen, he would have came off a whole lot better if he would have said something really simple like ‘man, it was annoying, it bothered me, and it felt so good to punch that dude in the face, oh baby,'” Askren said. “People would have loved it! Everyone can relate to someone that’s been in there life that annoyed the s**t out of them, for whatever reason it is. Most people don’t get to punch that guy in the face on national TV. [Usman] got the opportunity to, but then he failed to acknowledge that that felt really good and that the trash talk did bother him.
“Within two questions, he lied about it,” Askren continued. “Then he pretty much admitted he was lying. That fakeness, that lack of genuineness, is what people can feel. Even if they can’t put it into words like I’m putting it into words for you, they feel it. That’s why they can’t relate to him. That’s why he’s not capturing the hearts and minds of fans.
“If he would have said ‘guys, he bugged the shit out of me, and that felt so good to punch him in the face. Oh my God, it felt good’… dude, they would have loved it. They would have loved it! People would have went nuts for that. But he didn’t. He lied to the people. The people felt it.”
What do you think of this critique from Ben Askren? Do you agree Kamaru Usman made an error in his post-fight interview?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/16/2019.