Kamaru Usman Reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov Calling Him the Best Fighter in the UFC

Published 04/06/2021, 1:09 PM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 01: UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman poses on stage during the UFC 245 press conference at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden on November 1, 2019 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


The UFC lost one of its greatest fighters ever when Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after beating Justin Gaethje. It was another dominant victory for the Russian, and UFC finally acknowledged his retirement a few months after that. However, the lightweight division isn’t the only one that has seen a massive change due to this; Kamaru Usman stock’s risen too.

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Khabib and Usman were number one and three on the official Men’s pound for pound rankings before his retirement. However, now Usman is number two, only behind the number one, Jon Jones. On the other hand, Khabib has gone on record to say that Usman should be number one now that he has retired.

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Brett Okamoto brought this to Usman’s attention in an interview for ESPN MMA before Usman’s fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261. Usman said, “It’s a big honor. It’s a big honor to have someone like that who was the number one acknowledge that because now that he’s out of the rankings, why shouldn’t I be number one?”

Usman also mentioned that he is the only champion who’s active. “Since Khabib is retired, I’m the 0nly guy who’s active and doing it on that level,” he said.

Kamaru Usman doesn’t want to direct the narrative around him

The Nigerian has always been known for being one of the least controversial people in the MMA community. He has been consistently brilliant in his fights and similarly exceptional in his interviews. He doesn’t gloat about his legend and remains humble most of the time.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: Kamaru Usman of Nigeria battles Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020, on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

He mentioned that it’s not his job to tell the fans what to think about him. “My job is to go out there, step inside the cage and defeat every one of my opponents,” Usman said. However, he did add that he thinks that he is the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

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Usman ended by saying that if the fans hold him in such high regard, then he’ll let them do that. He does deserve all the respect that he gets and some more. It will be interesting to see if Jorge Masvidal can beat him in their match at UFC 261, but the odds are definitely against him.

Normally people wouldn’t count Masvidal out, but it’s a compliment to Usman’s dominance that he looks invincible. Do you think Jorge Masvidal can beat Kamaru Usman? Do you think anyone can beat Kamaru Usman?

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Aniket Awasthi

189 articles

Aniket Awasthi is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. This STEM undergraduate combines an insatiable urge to write with his admiration for MMA and the UFC in general to enhance his journalism. He calls charismatic names like Chael Sonnen and 'The Count' Michael Bisping as his favorite fighters, but he is a great admirer of the rise of Israel Adesanya ever since he fought Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221.

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