All Kamaru Usman wants is the chance to finally face a top 10 ranked opponent.
The former “Ultimate Fighter” winner, who has rattled off six straight wins since his appearance on the reality show, has been steadily climbing up the ladder as one of the best prospects at 170 pounds but for some reason he just can’t seem to get anyone currently ranked to take a fight with him.
Ahead of his upcoming bout on Sunday night against Emil Meek, Usman says the list of top 10 ranked fighters avoiding a fight with him has only continued to grow over the past few months as he anxiously attempts to work towards title contention in 2018.
Usman’s frustration has been compounded by the constant promises from the UFC that he will get that ranked opponent if he just beats one more fighter of their choosing when they need him to step up to the challenge.
Unfortunately, Usman has done it time and time again yet he still can’t get a top 10 ranked opponent on the other end of his bout agreement.
“It’s extremely frustrating. Because the biggest excuse that the top five or top 10 guys are using against me is ‘he hasn’t fought anyone in the top 10 or the top five’. But how am I going to fight anyone in the top 10 if you all use the same excuse and all duck me?” Usman said ahead of his fight this weekend at the UFC card in St. Louis.
“It sucks because obviously this is the fight game. They’re only going to pay you when you step inside that Octagon. I would like to work something else out where if these guys are turning me down, I get something out of it. Because the biggest frustration for me is that I know how much I put into it. A lot of guys they train and they get a fight and then they get in the gym and get into training. That’s not me. This is my life. I get up everyday and do this whether I have a fight or I don’t have a fight.”
Instead, Usman says the UFC came calling with a different fight instead and essentially told him that this was the only matchup he was going to be offered or he could wait for a later date with no guarantee on who he would face.
“There was one time after I fought Alexander Yakovlev, after I fought him, Joe Silva at the time before I took that fight said ‘get through this guy and we’ll give you a top 15 guy’ because that guy had beat Gray Maynard, had knocked out George Sullivan, he was a tough Russian, had a lot of fights. I went out there and dominated him from start to finish, even worse than Demian Maia did and when I was asking for the top 15 [opponent] next, he said no,” Usman explained. “He said those guys don’t want to fight you. Those guys said no to you. So this is the fight that you’re going to take.
“He made me take the Warlley Alves fight. He called me on the phone and said you will take this fight. This is the fight that I have for you. So I had no choice. Why isn’t that being done to these guys now and I’m deserving of it?”
While Usman may have earned the title of “the most avoided fighter in the UFC”, that’s not getting him any closer to his ultimate goal of earning a shot at the welterweight title.
Perhaps the most perplexing part of Usman’s journey towards the top 10 are the opportunities others have gotten in similar situations while he’s been left by the wayside knocking off a laundry list of tough opponents who just don’t have a number next to their names.
Usman looks specifically at Colby Covington and Darren Till as fighters from outside the top 15 who asked for ranked opponents and were granted those opportunities. Now Usman makes it clear that he’s not jealous or angry at either fighter for being granted fights against top 10 opponents but he would just like the same chance.
That’s why Usman plans on pummeling Emil Meek on Sunday night before sitting down with UFC president Dana White to have a serious conversation about his future.
“After this fight, I’m going to go have a conversation with Dana and we’re going to have to figure out a plan. I can’t continue to be this guy,” Usman said. “I was in the rankings before Colby Covington. I was in the rankings before Darren Till. I’m the only guy who has been in the rankings with the longest active win streak and I’ve somehow dropped in the rankings. That makes no sense.
“I was in the rankings before Rafael dos Anjos came into the division. He beat a guy that was ranked No. 14 while I was ranked No. 10, he beat him and then they ranked him above me. The rankings make no sense. It’s very disturbing cause I can’t continue to be this guy.”