On the day Kamaru Usman won the UFC welterweight title, he was done chasing fights.
Ever since he won his season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, Usman was calling out any number of ranked opponents just trying to climb the ladder towards his ultimate goal, which was becoming champion.
After a lopsided win over Tyron Woodley to become the new welterweight king, Usman knew his days calling people out was over because now he’s got what everybody else in the world wants.
That’s why Usman isn’t going to say that former interim champion Colby Covington is definitively his next fight because now that he’s the champion, he’s going to face whoever the UFC throws at him.
“Let’s be honest, that’s the fight we said that we want but it’s not necessarily a done deal yet,” Usman said about a potential showdown with Covington. “He’s not necessarily the next guy. There’s a few different things going on here. As you can see, that division has shifted around quite a bit in the last couple months.
“There’s no telling what could happen. He’s been running around thinking he deserves certain things, that certain things are a shoe in for him but it doesn’t work like that.”
When Covington was ranked ahead of him at welterweight, Usman routinely called for a fight against him and while the UFC attempted to put the matchup together on several occasions, it never happened.
Now Usman is the one with the title and Covington is chasing after him.
Obviously, Usman would happily accept that fight if it’s offered to him but right now after undergoing hernia surgery, his main concern is getting healthy and then when it’s time to compete again the UFC will send him a contract and he’ll sign it no matter the opponent.
“That’s a fight I’ve been offered five different occasions before and I’ve taken it all five times and he’s rejected the fight all five times,” Usman said about Covington. “So now that you’re not in the driver’s seat, now that you’re not in the position, what’s really going to happen? All I know is we want to fight in the fall. We want to fight whoever the organization feels is deserving of the shot.
“We don’t pick. We’re not picking. We’re not sitting here hoping and praying it’s this guy or that guy. We’re up for the next guy. The beauty about the position we’re in, I don’t have to struggle calling guys out to get a fight when all these guys knew they didn’t want to fight me. Now we’re in a position where we just sit back, train and beat up whoever they put in front of us.”
As much as Covington has been promised the next shot at the welterweight title, the reality is there are no guarantees when it comes to UFC matchmaking.
Covington was an interim champion less than a year ago yet Usman leap frogged over him into the title shot against Woodley back in March. With several high profile welterweight fights coming up in June and July, Usman knows the same thing could happen again, which is why he’s not going to waste a lot of oxygen talking about Covington when that may not even end up as his next opponent.
“I mean if Woodley goes out there and does something spectacular again, now he makes the case for himself. If Ben Askren goes out there and does something spectacular, which I doubt, he makes a case for himself,” Usman said. “All these guys, there’s big fights coming up. That’s how it works.
“Whoever stays active, whoever catches the boss’s eye is who is probably going to get that shot. If you’re choosing to sit back because ‘I deserve this’ or ‘I’m going to be the next guy in line’, we’ve seen it time and time again guys get passed over. We saw him just get passed over. If you’re not active, you can’t expect the company to reward you.”
As far as his own timeline for a return to action, Usman is still recovering from hernia surgery and he can’t do much of anything until he gets cleared to train again.
That said, the reigning welterweight champion has an idea in mind about when he hopes to defend his title but nothing is certain until he’s back to full health.
“We’re playing it by ear,” Usman said. “The doctor wanted me to sit for two months with no activity. So two months I can’t train and after two months I’m hoping they’ll clear me to start training and once I’m cleared to train, I’m ready to go.
“So I’m looking at something later on maybe in the fall. We’ll look at maybe September.”