“[My high school wrestling coach] is reading the roll sheet calling names and he goes, ‘Kfam..Kamar… Who the? Who is this kid? Who the f*ck is this kid?'” Kamaru Usman shared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “And I’m like, ‘That’s me, coach…’ That’s your name?! I’m like yeah, he’s like, ‘I’m not saying that!’ Cause my full name is Kamarudeen. He’s like, ‘I’m not gonna say that! Like, Kamardien, Kamardy… I’m gonna call you Marty,’ And I’m just like, ‘Yeah sure, coach…’
“I’m 5-foot-3, 100-pounds, I’m scared of this guy and I’m like sure. I mean, you’re a kid, you don’t care. You’re gonna have nicknames growing up. Now the whole team’s calling me Marty. I love that coach, he essentially changed the course of my life.
“It seemed to work,” He continued. “It worked so well to where… This is the thing about nicknames, if you’re a guy who’s just a regular average guy and you suck… Your name dies with you. You move on, no one cares. But if you’re doing something incredible, something spectacular, that name lives on.
“So now Marty went from just everyone on the team calling me Marty to where people knew about the wrestling, around the wrestling circuit in high school they’re calling me Marty. ‘Oh, Marty, that kid’s good,’ And now college coaches are calling like, ‘I wanna recruit this kid… This Kamarudeen kid. Oh! Marty?’ So now they all know me as Marty. So now I go to college, and all the coaches are calling me Marty… And now the college team is calling me Marty. Now here’s the situation with this whole Ben Askren thing… Like I just mentioned, if I was just a regular guy who sucked, no one cares. No one knows your name, you die out. But because I made waves… I was that Marty kid that wrestled at Nebraska that was beating the sh*t out of everyone. Division I, II, II, NIA, JuCo, it doesn’t matter. Ben knows of me.”
Ben Askren may have brought back an old nickname of Kamaru Usman’s, but it’s safe to say that Kamarudeen is definitely not just some regular guy.
After recently defeating Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 via a stunningly one-sided unanimous decision, the new champion proved that he’s the very best welterweight on the planet today. The win would extend Usman’s current winning streak to 14. Now the first African champion in UFC history, the once known as ‘Marty from Nebraska’ continues to make waves.
With former interim champion, Colby Covington now in the crosshairs of the new champ for his likely first title defense, it just comes down to when the two will meet inside the Octagon.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/19/2019