UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman is one of the most impressive talents in the entire world of MMA. Following his UFC debut in 2015, “The Nigerian Nightmare” has torn through the welterweight ranks to claim the title and defend it multiple times, establishing himself as one of the league’s top strikers. If you want to know more about this African-American champion’s rise to fame, here’s his story.
Born in Auchi, Nigeria in 1987, Kamaru Usman immigrated with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was a young boy. Usman was a wrestler before embarking on his MMA career and trained in both freestyle and folkstyle wrestling, and even wrestled alongside UFC heavyweight Jon Jones at a tournament when he was a high school senior. After failing to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling team due to injury-related setbacks, Usman shifted his focus to mixed martial arts.
His MMA career began in November 2012. Usman won his first match but lost his second — the only defeat so far on his otherwise spotless 19-1 record. It didn’t take long for him to get signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and since his UFC debut in 2015, the Nigerian Nightmare has ripped through the welterweight ranks, winning all 14 of his fights with the league so far. He didn’t get a shot at the welterweight title in 2019, however. In March of that year at UFC 235, Usman defeated defending champ Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision to claim the title and establish himself as the UFC’s top welterweight fighter.
Since then, Kamaru Usman has successfully defended the belt four times, most recently against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 in April. There, he won via second-round knockout and took the Performance of the Night award. Earlier in February at UFC 258, Usman had his third successful championship defense when he won a knockout victory over title challenger and former BJH World Champion Gilbert Burns, also earning a Performance of the Night award. Interestingly, despite his wrestling background, only one of Usman’s 19 victories has come via submission.
Many fighters (including Usman) typically only have one or two fights in an entire season, but as Usman has already had two in the first half of 2021, it’s looking like fans might see the Nigerian Nightmare enter the Octagon for a third match sometime this year. Fans are speculating that the champ’s next likely contest is a highly anticipated rematch with number one-ranked welterweight Colby Covington, whom Usman defeated in his first title defense at UFC 245 in December 2019.
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