LAS VEGAS — Kamaru Usman left the cage after winning the UFC welterweight title and went immediately in the direction of Colby Covington, who was sitting nearby. The two exchanged some heated words before security pulled Usman away.
That encounter was not an accident. Covington seems to be queued up for Usman’s first title defense, per UFC president Dana White. And that’s exactly the matchup Usman wants, he said Saturday night after a dominant unanimous decision victory over Tyron Woodley in the co-main event of UFC 235.
“Can I curse up here?” Usman said at the post-fight press conference. “I want to f*ck that guy up so bad. I can’t be in a room with that guy. I can’t be in a room with him. It’s like, I just can’t. I can’t wait to be healed up and really put my hands on him. That’s one I’m really gonna enjoy, brutalizing him.”
Usman (15-1) had a nearly flawless performance against Woodley over five rounds. He dominated the now-former champion with his wrestling and also outstruck him on the feet. Usman, 31, imposed his will from the bell and didn’t let up, winning every single round, at least one by a 10-8 margin.
What makes that even more impressive is the fact that Usman came into the bout injured. He had a fracture in his foot, was in a boot this week and needed a cortisone shot in order to compete. Usman said he’s been dealing with leg injuries for quite some time, dating back to before his win over Rafael dos Anjos at the TUF 26 Finale and beyond.
“I’ve been on one leg this whole time,” Usman said. “And coming into this fight, I was in a boot all week. I fractured my left foot. I was in a boot. I was walking around in a boot. But nothing was going to deter me from achieving what I’ve set out to achieve. I’m hoping that I can go back and have the doctor really look at it.”
Usman has been criticized for saying in previous fights that he won despite only being 30 percent. He said something similar Saturday night after dispatching Woodley, that we have yet to see him at his very peak. The plan now, before that eventual Covington fight, is to heal up, so the best possible “Nigerian Nightmare” can shine through.
“To this day, people haven’t really seen me open up my kicking arsenal,” Usman said. “I could kick, everybody. I could kick. I work with one of the best striking coaches in the world, Henri Hooft. And we can kick. And people haven’t really seen that. Like I said, I’ve been on one leg for years now. Being able to open up and use my kick would make me so much more dangerous. It wouldn’t even be fair to use some of the weapons that we work on.
“But when I go into these fights and I have to go through the ringer to prepare for them and I know that I’m not 100 percent going in, winning is the most important thing and dominating is the most important thing. And that’s what I’ve been doing.”