Kamaru Usman will gladly defend his welterweight title against whoever the UFC deems worthy, but he believes one of his past opponents may be the most deserving challenger.
After dispatching Colby Covington by fifth-round TKO at UFC 245, Usman was asked about what potentially comes next for him in the division.
Usman pointed towards Leon Edwards—coming off of eight straight wins—as a possible opponent who has been inching closer and closer towards title contention while struggling to get top-ranked opponents to face him.
Most recently, Edwards was offered a main event slot at the upcoming UFC Fight Night card in London in March but former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley has shown little interest in traveling into enemy territory for that matchup.
While Edwards has the longer win streak, Jorge Masvidal might be the more popular choice after he rattled off three straight wins in 2019 including knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren. In fact, UFC president Dana White mentioned Masvidal as the most logical opponent for Usman because it would be a very “big” fight.
For his part, Usman could only answer ‘who?’ when Masvidal’s name was mentioned but he went out of his way to give credit to Edwards, who has been the dark horse contender in the division with a win streak that stretches back to 2016.
“Man, there’s a lot of tough guys in the division. A lot, a lot of tough guys. I mean let’s be honest, if you’re talking about someone who’s deserving, Leon Edwards hasn’t lost since he fought me,” Usman said. “He’s been finishing guys and he’s now found himself in the position I found myself in a little over a year ago.
“Everyone knew I was one of the toughest guys out there, and they didn’t want to gamble and take that risk on me.”
Usman does hold a win over Edwards from their prior meeting four years ago but the British welterweight has done quite a bit to work his way into title contention since that time.
Whether it’s Edwards, Masvidal or someone else, Usman doesn’t seem to care much because he’s just going to end up fighting whoever the UFC puts in his path.
After getting through a heated rivalry with Covington, Usman is mostly looking forward to some time off before preparing for his next title defense in 2020.
“Right now, I’m sitting above, looking at all these guys and they’re kind of all in that pool. All tightly contested. They just need to break out,” Usman said. “I’m waiting for whoever Dana and the organization feel is the next guy for me. I’ll be happy. I never turn down a fight, especially now that I’m the champion.
“If they say this is the next guy, then hey that’s next guy but I need to go home, I need to love on my daughter.”