Kamaru Usman won’t call himself the greatest of all time but the best right now is a different story.
The welterweight champion capped off UFC 261 on Saturday night with a jaw-dropping knockout in the second round to finish Jorge Masvidal while defending his title for the fourth consecutive time. The only reason the rematch with Masvidal happened was because Usman was not personally satisfied with his performance in their first meeting — a fight he won in a lopsided decision.
This time around, Usman blasted Masvidal with a right-hand that sent the veteran contender down to the ground in a heap as “The Nigerian Nightmare” also extended his unbeaten streak in the UFC to 14 consecutive fights.
Afterwards, Usman wasn’t interested in touting his career accomplishments when stacked up against other all-time greats but instead he called for some recognition as the best fighter in the world at the present moment.
“That’s up to them, that’s not up to me,” Usman said at the UFC 261 post-fight press conference when asked about his status as the greatest welterweight in history. “I just need to continue to do what I do and that’s dominate every individual. That’s my last three opponents and I’ve finished all three of them. I don’t worry about that. I take it a fight at a time.
“If people want to consider me the best, then they can. But as of right now, I do believe that right now I’m pound-for-pound, I am the best fighter on the planet.”
Beyond his title defenses, Usman has also taken out every fighter thrown in his path before becoming a champion as he truly had to earn his first shot at UFC gold. He was perfect with a 9-0 resume as he climbed up the welterweight ranks while earning wins over Leon Edwards, Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos.
After dominating former champion Tyron Woodley for five rounds, Usman then broke Colby Covington’s jaw in his first title defense, he finished former teammate Gilbert Burns and now holds two wins over Masvidal.
Based on those kinds of statistics, it’s getting harder and harder to argue against Usman receiving consideration as the best pound-for-pound fighter in all of mixed martial arts.
“I have big, big goals for myself,” Usman said. “I want to see it truly, on Monday, pound-for-pound right now I’m the best fighter on the planet. I just want to see that on Monday.
“I’m the most dominant champion in the UFC, period. Like I said, next week, I want to see that pound-for-pound list. Because I think right now I am the best pound-for-pound.”
Based on the current UFC rankings, the only person ahead of Usman right now is former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who reclaimed the top spot after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from competition.
Ahead of the event on Saturday night, Usman told MMA Fighting that based on lifetime achievements, he absolutely gives Jones his due but he believes right now he’s the best in the world regardless of weight class.
“With the whole pound-for-pound situation, as far as right now actively fighting, I believe that I am pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world right now,” Usman said.
“If you’re talking body of work, absolutely it’s crazy when you’re looking at the body of work that Jon Jones has put in, it’s ridiculous. He is for sure pound-for-pound but right now actively fighting, I believe with the absence of Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I believe I am the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
As far as future competition goes, Usman might be looking at several potential rematches after UFC president Dana White already declared Covington as the No. 1 contender in the division. There’s also a potential fight looming against Leon Edwards if he gets past Nate Diaz at UFC 262 in May.
For his part, Usman says the biggest obstacle in his career will be the man in the mirror because there’s no other welterweight who’s truly going to challenge him.
“Myself,” Usman answered when asked about his toughest opponent. “When I go out there and do what I do, I dominate everybody. That’s why I feel like I’m the pound-for-pound best fighter. I dominate everyone. As long as I’m in there and I’m present, I go out there and I do my thing and I dominate everyone.”