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Morning Report: Kamaru Usman discusses potential next contenders: ‘I’m just waiting for these guys to really step up’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This past weekend, Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Colby Covington in the main event of UFC 268. Coming into the bout, Usman had put on back-to-back Performances of the Night, securing impressive knockouts and he nearly went three for three, dropping Covington twice in the second round. However, Covington was able to survive, which Usman says is a testament to just how good of a fighter he is.

“He’s an amazing competitor,” Usman told Daniel Cormier on ESPN. “He recovered so fast. I just watched the fight back over and from that second shot that dropped him, he recovered so fast and was so intelligent to go to the wrestling. He went straight to the wrestling, he was able to grab a leg and I was surprised at just how much he was still there to grab the leg, go to the single, and hide the head to where he doesn’t take those big shots. Because I wanted to put him out.”

Another testament to Covington’s ability is the fact that, according to some, Covington also was able to secure the first takedown on Usman in UFC history. At the end of the third round, Covington ducked under on Usman, got a rear-waist cinch, and was able to briefly trip Usman to the mat. The champion stood up immediately but Cormier, who was commentating the fight, declared the move a takedown. UFC stat-keepers disagreed and officially Usman maintains his 100% takedown defense record, but when Cormier asked him about it, even Usman was a bit coy in his response.

“See now, DC, we wrestled in a different era, where the transition and the time, the transition time between these takedowns and control was different,” Usman said with a smile while Cormier ribbed him. “Nowadays it’s very, very different, to where they’re letting these guys wrestle through these positions to really have to secure the takedown. Unfortunately, he just really didn’t secure that takedown to where - it’s 50/50 to where some referees, we’re still neutral there.”

Takedown or not though, Usman’s showing on Saturday was another immaculate performance from the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The win was Usman’s 15th straight in the UFC, with the last five being title defenses and as a result some people have already declare him the greatest welterweight of all-time. For those who still need to see more from Usman though, the welterweight champion has a list of possible next contenders for when he gets back in the cage, including another former foe and possibly the most exciting fighter in the division.

“Now, looking at the division, there are some matchups there,” Usman said. “Leon Edwards goes out there and gets the job done, and as heated as this rivalry is with (Jorge) Masvidal, if he goes out there and starches Masvidal, Leon Edwards is a bona fide star. That’s a fight that has to happen. He hasn’t lost since he fought me the first time and that’s what people are going to want to see, if he’s able to go out there and really do what he’s supposed to do with Masvidal.

“Also, you can’t forget Vicente Luque. Vicente, he’s as battle-tested as anybody, he’s as fun of a fighter as anybody. So with this new - the way that I fight now, where I’m at, Vicente Luque is another exciting contender. That’s another fight that could potentially take place. I’m just waiting for these guys to really step up. These guys have got to step up and show the world that, ‘Hey, I’m that next guy.’ Right now, they’re kind of right there in the fold, trying to break through and I’m just gonna sit back and let these guys break through and make a case for themselves.”

Edwards is currently on a 10-fight unbeaten streak set to face Masvidal at UFC 269 next month. Meanwhile, Luque has won four in a row, earning Performance of the Night bonuses in his last three.


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Boxing. Former NFL star Frank Gore set to box Deron Williams on Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury undercard.


Bonus Resume: Max Holloway

Top Bellator finishes from Cris Cyborg and Sinead Kavanagh.

Cris Cyborg fight week.

Listen to Trevor Wittman corner his fighters to 3-0 at UFC 268.


Fights Gone By. Discussing the best action from UFC 268.


Usman on Twitter.

Jon Jones, back to this.

Frank Mir.

Call out?

Tanner Boser having travel issues.

Thankfully, Aljo didn’t look at our rankings where my co-panelists have done the same to him.

Strange company.


Angela Hill (13-10) vs. Amanda Lemos (10-1-1); UFC Vegas 45, Dec. 18.


Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



Who wins this weekend?

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    Cris Cyborg
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