On the mend following hand surgery and targeting a summertime UFC return, Usman addressed the possibility of moving up to 185 pounds on Wednesday, continuing a conversation that began after he recently revealed that he briefly considered challenging for the UFC light heavyweight title while Jan Blachowicz was still champion.
“I’ve said it before, as long as Israel Adesanya is the champion, I have no interest in going there,” Usman told Jim Rome. “But when Jan Blachowicz was the champion at light heavyweight, of course, I thought it was a great matchup.
“I’m not saying I would just demolish the whole light heavyweight division. I’m saying I thought that was a great matchup, and I thought that I would have been a two-time champion, and skipping middleweight and becoming the light heavyweight champion.”
While the chance to face Blachowicz never came to fruition, Usman doubled down on the notion that he would never attempt to take Adesanya’s title away. The two may not be training partners, but Usman has long considered Adesanya a friend, and the only way he’d entertain the fight is if the UFC put up a massive sum of money that neither fighter could ignore.
“I’ve said it before, Adesanya’s a fellow Nigerian. A good guy. I like him, I like his approach. I’ve said it — I’d rather two Nigerians have belts than one Nigerian with two belts.
“If Dana [White] is willing to sit us down and say, $100 million, ‘Hey guys, let’s split this up,’ at that point Israel and I would have to talk. Because at that point, my little brother, my blood brother, we would have to talk and say, ‘Hey, let’s go out here and make this money.’”
It’s obviously unlikely the UFC will put up a purse of that magnitude, so for now Usman will have to stay focused on his own division.
Despite being just 4-0 in the UFC with two wins at welterweight, Chimaev has quickly become one of the most talked about fighters on the entire roster, and he hasn’t been shy to call for a title shot against Usman.
For his part, Usman welcomes the chance to face Chimaev, but first the 27-year-old prospect has to actually earn the opportunity.
“There’s a reason there’s a structure to get here,” Usman said. “So he’s done great with the opposition that he’s been presented, and by the time he gets here, once he gets here, of course we’ll have that conversation. But I am the champion. I am the pound-for-pound best in the world. I am the king of the castle. Everybody wants a piece of me. So that’s good. I like that.
“There was a time when I was coming up and I just couldn’t get those fights, I couldn’t get the next guy to step in there with me. But now that I’m at the top, I don’t have to do that. These guys have to call me out and these guys have to come to me. When they make it up here, I’ll be here waiting.”