Usman dismantled the former UFC lightweight champion en route to a lopsided unanimous decision over dos Anjos in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. The win extended Usman’s Octagon record to a perfect 9-0 and inched his name even further toward contention for Tyron Woodley’s welterweight title. It also impressed UFC president Dana White, who was front row at the Pearl Theatre in the Palms Casino Resort to watch firsthand after being critical of Usman’s performances in the past.
“Listen, man. I haven’t given the kid any credit yet, because I felt like he talked to much and didn’t do enough, so we put him in there with a guy who I have a lot of respect for, former world champion RDA — and Usman looked like a stud tonight,” White said Friday night on the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show. “From the first round, he actually got stronger as the fight went on, throwing tons of punches, kicks, wrestling, stood up and went toe-to-toe with him a few times. I was impressed. I’m telling you, I want to see him fight Woodley now. I want to see the Woodley fight. That’s what I want, but we’ll see.”
Usman, 31, has now defeated a trio of ranked contenders — dos Anjos, two-time title challenger Demian Maia, and Leon Edwards — as well as tough up-and-comers like Emil Meek, Warlley Alves, and Sergio Moraes over the course of his flawless UFC run.
The next challenger for Woodley’s welterweight title is currently expected to be Colby Covington, the controversial former interim champion who similarly defeated Maia and dos Anjos. Rumors have swirled about Woodley vs. Covington taking place in early 2019, perhaps on Jan. 26 at UFC 233. However, when asked about the potential matchup, White demurred and instead poured more praise upon Usman’s performance.
“Covington’s obviously there,” White said. “I’m one of these guys, man, I always like — if you just fought and you came off a great performance against a stud like RDA, I’m looking at you. Covington hasn’t fought in a while. He got injured. He didn’t defend his title. All that stuff. Listen, in one fight, Usman — I used to talk a ton of smack about Usman. In one fight, this guy turned me around. And it makes me excited to see the Woodley fight.”
Asked by the FS1 studio crew about potentially matching Usman up in search of his 10th straight non-title win against another top contender like Darren Till or Santiago Ponzinibbio, White acknowledged that those options are present as well, however he quickly returned to the prospect of pairing Usman against the current champion, Woodley.
“We’ll see,” White said. “You’re right, there’s obviously a couple of good options out there. But after seeing what I just saw, all I can think of right now is Woodley.”