Kamaru Usman is a self-assured man. Within the first few minutes of our conversation – in the build-up to one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history – Usman, with a smile and the easy demeanour of a seasoned yogi, has stated that he’s the best UFC fighter in the world, that he breaks his opponents’ wills “physically, mentally, psychologically”, and that he’s “close to superhuman.”
His last statement might be (semi) tongue-in-cheek, but he’s right to be confident in his talents. He’s only lost once in his UFC career, in last August’s bout against this weekend’s opposition, Leon Edwards. The last-gasp knockout was an out-of-the-blue firework display of a finish to a fight that had trended the way of Usman.
“I’ve fought this guy now for two fights, a total of eight rounds,” says Usman from his UK base. “Out of those eight rounds, he won one round. I dominated him; broke him. I just have to remember that, remember what I do well, remember that I’m better than anybody in the world at this.”
This mentality means Kamaru Usman goes into Saturday’s fight with the same outlook that has seen him win 15 out of 16 fights, many on the grandest stage. It helps that he has a healthy relationship with the sport, finding time to pursue fitness in unsurprising corners, such as Pilates and training for a role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
In his own words, the Nigerian Nightmare discusses how his fitness regime has changed over the years, his love for London, and whether he thinks the grand finale of the Usman-Edwards trilogy will be business as usual.
Mentality and consistency
When you have a situation and an episode like that, a finish like that in the last fight, of course, you start to have thoughts: did I do this wrong? Did I do that wrong? I’m human – I’m close to superhuman, but at the same time, I’m human! It’s part of the sport and a part of life, it’s why I love it so much.