During a recent interview with MMA Fighting, UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman discussed his highly anticipated showdown with former interim champion Colby Covington, which has still not yet been finalized.
He says that his health is his priority, and that he needs to recover from his lingering injuries before he commits to his first title defense.
“First of all, the most important thing is my health. I had a pretty significant big surgery after my last fight so I want to get back to the point where I can be in the gym and start training,”
Kamaru Usman (15-1) maintains a remarkable 14 fight winning streak, despite constantly battling injuries from frequent fights and training. His most recent injuries include a damaged knee and fractured foot.
“It’s killing me, not training,” he said. “I’m a guy who likes to train, I like to stay active. That’s the most important thing, to get back to where I’m healthy.. Then I can become the active and dominant champ that I want to be.”
While Usman isn’t sure when exactly his injuries will be healed up, he expects to be fighting again by year’s end.
“By the end of the year, I should be fighting again for sure,” he said.
When he does return, it will most likely be to a fight with Colby Covington — a fight he says he’s accepted many times before.
“I wanted Colby because I’ve wanted Colby for three years now. They’ve offered me that fight at least 4-5 times, and I’ve accepted it each and every time. He’s the guy who has turned down the fight.”
“I hope he’s man enough now to man up and take the fight.”
Kamaru Usman added that he believes Covington’s bad-mouthing antics have compromised his integrity and made him look like the villain.
‘We’re all entertainers at the end of the day, but there’s a certain line that you have to realize [as an entertainer] that you can’t cross…when you cross those boundaries, that’s what people think about and that’s what people care about. He’s crossed that boundary several times just trying to be the entertainer.”
Usman continued, assuring that he doesn’t engage in trash-talking because his pedigree speaks for itself.
“I don’t have to call people out..I’m the champion, they have to come to me,” he said.
“I’m the same guy, I have no personal beef with nobody, I fought the champion Tyron Woodley. I have no beef with him, I like him.
“For me, there are no emotions when I step inside that Octagon. I don’t care who it is, whoever steps in there and is locked inside that Octagon with me is the guy I’m gonna punish.”
While Kamaru Usman will probably meet Colby Covington in his next outing, it’s also likely that he meets the undefeated Ben Askren in the near future.
“Ben Askren was never an issue for me…I’m glad everyone is talking about him, that’s just another guy for me,” he said. “After I get the next opponent, that’s another guy that’s waiting for me that I can go and defend against… but he’s got to fight Jorge Masvidal [first] and Masvidal’s no easy guy.”
“Any one of those guys, I’m ready and I’m prepared for all of them.”
Before any fights are finalized, Usman says there are some factors that need to be ironed out. That being said, the biggest barrier to the champ’s return is his injury.
“We’re talking some contracts that need to be worked out, we’re talking about logistics of where the fight can take place, and the most important is my injury.”
In the same interview, Kamaru Usman discussed a future move up to the middleweight division. While he believes he’d thrive in this heavier division, he also doesn’t want to fight his fellow Nigerian Israel Adesanya, who is the division’s interim champion.
“We’ll see. Whittaker was a former welterweight..but as you know, my brother Israel Adesanya is there and once he goes out and makes the claim that he is the true middleweight champion, there’s no need for me to do that. Potential contenders are going to continue to present themselves and I will continue to beat them all down until I decide to walk away from this sport.”
Do you think Kamaru Usman will fight Colby Covington this year?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/27/2019.