LAS VEGAS – Kamaru Usman’s big right hand put an end to his rivalry with Colby Covington and made his first successful defense of his welterweight title at UFC 245. But he may not have long to savor the victory because there is already a line forming around the block for a crack at the champion.
If left up to Usman, the next man up may not be who you think it is.
If left up to UFC President Dana White, Usman’s next challenger is exactly who you think it will be.
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According to White, the man who won the fictional “BMF” title against Nate Diaz at UFC 244 may have already earned his title opportunity in a fight that the UFC president believes would be huge for both fighters and the UFC.
“It’s massive,” White said before praising Usman’s performance on Saturday night. “Yeah, the Masvidal fight vs. Usman, it’s a big deal. He fought (Nate) Diaz for the ‘BMF’ belt and now to fight for the actual title against the guy who’s tough as nails, it’s fun.”
While Usman-Masvidal may be the biggest money fight that can be made for the welterweight title, Usman believes another man has earned that opportunity.
“There’s a lot of tough guys in the division – a lot, a lot of tough guys,” Usman said at the UFC 245 post-fight press conference. “I mean, let’s be honest: If you’re talking about someone who is deserving, Leon Edwards hasn’t lost since he fought me. He’s been finishing guys and he’s now found myself in a position that I found myself in a little over a year ago, is everyone knew I was one of the toughest guys in the division and they didn’t want to take that gamble and risk on me.”
Currently, Masvidal and Edwards are ranked #3 and #4, respectively. While Masvidal is coming off of a huge win against Diaz, Edwards has won eight fights in a row with victories over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos and Gunnar Nelson.
Masvidal and Edwards were also involved in an altercation earlier this year when both were involved in a physical altercation backstage at UFC Fight Night 147 that left Edwards with a facial laceration courtesy of Masvidal.
You can’t go wrong with either option and should Usman decide to take some time off, a title eliminator between the feuding parties would certainly be welcomed by the fans.
Nevertheless, Usman will sit and wait to see whose number is called next and made it clear that he won’t turn down any challenger coming for his title.
“Right now, I’m sitting above and looking at all these guys and they’re all very tightly contested,” Usman said of his potential opponents at 170 pounds. “They just need to break out, and I’m waiting for whoever Dana and the organization feel is next for me and I’ll be happy. I’ll never turn down a fight, and especially now. I’m the champion. If they said this is the next guy, then hey, this is the next guy.”
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