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Everything You Need to Know About Kamaru Usman Before UFC 261

Tonight, MMA fans are getting treated to another UFC fight card featuring three championship bouts (the second such event of the year so far). Headlining the main card is a welterweight title rematch between defending champ Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman and challenger Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, who will be facing each other in the Octagon for the second time. This will be Usman’s fourth title defense, and if you want to know more about the champion’s rise to fame, here’s what you need to know.

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.

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His MMA career began in November 2012. Usman won his first match but lost his second — the only defeat on his 18-1 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 12 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 three times, most recently against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 in February. Next, he’ll be facing Jorge Masvidal, whom Usman bested last July at UFC 251, in a rematch for the welterweight title. The main event begins at 10 PM ET on Saturday, so now’s the time to sign up for ESPN+ and grab the UFC 261 PPV if you want to see how things shake out.

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