Right as everyone in the MMA community thought they knew who was next for UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in no. 1 welterweight contender Colby Covington, Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz pumped the brakes on that potential rematch.
Usman made it clear to Abdelaziz that he wants to return soon and defend his title for the third time this year, and instead of fighting Covington, Abdelaziz suggested a fight against no. 7 ranked welterweight contender Michael Chiesa at UFC 263.
Abdelaziz provided reasoning for this potential matchup, and also for why he believes Covington is undeserving of a title shot.
“Listen, Kamaru in the last 10 months fought three times. Colby in the last three years fought three times. After Kamaru destroyed his jaw and disfigured his face Kamaru went and fought three times, defended against very tough opponents,” Abdelaziz said to ESPN. “[Covington] went and fought [Tyron] Woodley. Guy’s not even in the UFC anymore, he was 40-years-old and beat him. Maybe Colby Covington’s good for business, who cares?
“Chiesa, four fight winning streak. Vicente Luque, three fight winning streak. Leon Edwards, nine fight winning streak. Why’s Colby Covington so special? What about Kamaru, if Marvin Vettori beats Israel Adesanya? Why not Kamaru go up and fight Marvin Vettori for the middleweight title? Listen, Kamaru earned every right to do whatever he wants right now. But, we’re respectful to Dana [White] and his wishes and we’re gonna work together regardless. We’ll make it happen. Kamaru called me yesterday. He said ‘June 12, Let’s do Michael Chiesa’.”
Many believe that is a far-fetched idea since UFC president Dana White already said that Colby Covington is next for the title. But Abdelaziz thinks White would be open to hearing out the reasoning behind the potential matchup between Usman and Chiesa.
“One thing about Dana people don’t know, Dana is not just a tyrant who runs over people. ‘Oh, you have to do this’, no. You can talk to Dana. Dana White told me, ‘Kamaru Usman knocks out Jorge Masvidal, he becomes a different level’,” Abdelaziz said. “You see Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, so many big media talking about [Masvidal], right? Well guess what. Kamaru Usman won, sat for 24 hours at home and said, ‘I need to fight. I love this’.”
While a solid amount of fans and pundits of the sport are understandably scratching their heads as to why Usman would prefer his next title defense to be against Chiesa rather Covington at UFC 263, the principle is consistent with “The Nigerian Nightmare” saying he wants to defend his title against active contenders.
Nevertheless, it would still be a hard sell to give the title shot to the no. 7 contender instead of the no. 1 contender.