Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman now stands at a pivotal juncture in his combat sports career, having suffered three consecutive losses.
His most recent bout was against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294. This series of defeats has prompted Usman to contemplate whether he should continue in the middleweight division or make a return to the welterweight category.
Before his showdown with Chimaev, Usman had expressed a keen interest in exploring the middleweight division. Notably, prominent middleweight contender Robert Whittaker has shown enthusiasm for a potential face-off with Usman in the welterweight division.
During an episode of his MMA Arcade Podcast, Whittaker stated:
“Is he gonna stay at middleweight?…That fight interests me,…I’d fight a middleweight Usman. I don’t think it’s a bad fight to have…Makes things interesting and exciting. I am here for it…hope he (Usman) stays…”
Whittaker firmly believes that this matchup is befitting of a combatant of Usman’s caliber, considering his extensive tenure as the welterweight champion. He emphasizes the importance of Usman not having to prove himself in lower-tier matches before getting a shot at the top of the middleweight ranks.
Whittaker also talked about the thrill of witnessing fresh talent competing at the highest levels of the sport. He cited recent competitors like Chimaev and Strickland as prime examples of the dynamic shifts in the division.
Interestingly, Whittaker finds himself in a somewhat parallel position with Usman. Both competitors are in search of a resurgence following recent setbacks.
Whittaker’s title aspirations were shattered by a second-round TKO loss to Dricus Du Plessis. However, Du Plessis’s subsequent withdrawal from a title challenge against then-champion Israel Adesanya led to an unexpected turn of events.
Sean Strickland ended up winning the title from Adeasnya in his first UFC title match.
After a prolonged period of staying undefeated, Kamaru Usman entered a phase of defeats in his career. Usman then took the match against Chimaev with only 10 days’ notice and ultimately lost by decision.
Reflecting on the outcome, Usman contemplates how the result might have differed if he had the advantage of a full training camp.
He said: “I think coming off the couch in 10 days and fighting a young, hungry bull like that,…I didn’t trust my shape. I’m a championship fighter,…I say give me a couple extra rounds, I think the world knows what that result might be.”
He also conveys his dissatisfaction and mental strain stemming from consecutive losses after a prolonged streak of victories.