Kamaru Usman’s greatness has become impossible to deny.
Where his career will stand in the annals of MMA history remains to be seen, but UFC President Dana White is ready to anoint Usman as not just the best fighter currently, but the best ever to compete in his division. White made this declaration to the media following the welterweight champion’s unanimous decision win over rival Colby Covington in the main event of UFC 268 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I’m telling you this guy is very special, he’s damn good,” White said at the evening’s post-fight presser. “I think he’s the greatest welterweight ever. He’s obviously the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world right now. He’s one of the guys that we can already start arguing soon about GOAT status.
“And he’s fighting everybody. It’s not like he’s only fought this guy, he didn’t fight - He’s fought everybody. He’s starting to come back the second time around now and beat guys. … And look at the competition he’s facing. It’s all really bad dudes. It’s very impressive.”
Usman’s career statistics became even more staggering after Saturday’ night’s win. He is now 15-0 to start his UFC career, a record only surpassed by middleweight legend Anderson Silva, who won his first 16 UFC fights. Silva’s 16 straight wins is also the best streak in UFC history, so Usman could soon tie that record as well.
Any conversation about the best welterweights of all time begins with former two-division champion Georges St-Pierre, a man that Usman is still catching up to at least as far as title defenses go. Usman has now successfully defended his belt five consecutive times, four short of St-Pierre’s record.
For Usman to surpass Silva, St-Pierre, or any other stars with a claim on GOAT status, White says he just has to stay the course.
“I think you just keep winning,” White said. “You just keep winning and you get the record so far apart that nobody’s ever gonna break it. Anderson Silva, you look at the 20 years, he did 16 and now this kid could do 18, 20, how much longer does he want to fight? We’ll see.”
White also used Usman’s excellence to frame Covington’s outstanding performances in two title fights against Usman. He suggested were it not for Usman standing atop the welterweight mountain, Covington would have already ascended hit himself.
“If Usman doesn’t exist, Colby Covington is the champion here,” White said. “Usman is just, this guy’s the best ever. He’s the best welterweight of all time. He’s on his way to possible GOAT status and Colby Covington is one tough dude. I mean, he is so tough.”
White believes there’s no shortage of challenges for Usman at 170 pounds, even though he has already circled back on two high-profile contenders, Covington and Jorge Masvidal, and he could have another rematch awaiting him if Leon Edwards can beat Masvidal in December.
There’s also the undefeated Khamzat Chimaev, the star of Fight Island that has shredded his octagon competition so far. White doesn’t see Chimaev stepping into the title picture just yet as he sees plenty of more immediate challenges for Usman ahead.
“There’s still guys here,” White said. “You’ve got some guys out there talking about Khamzat Chimaev, that he’s ready for — He’s had four fights in the UFC. Listen, I get it, the dude is one of the coolest, baddest things we’ve ever seen, the way he rips through people.
“But once you break into that top 10, top five, I’m not even talking about Usman, it’s a whole other game. He’s a couple of fights away if he can beat a couple of the guys in the top 10, top 5, and yes, [Edwards] has been waiting for a title shot for a long time too. He’s been in there, fought the fights we told him to, he’s had a lot of bad luck, things happen, but there’s always somebody.”