Kamaru Usman has heard it all before.
The reigning UFC welterweight champion and top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, according to the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, has been told plenty of times that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish something he promised to do.
That’s why Usman isn’t sweating the criticism he’s faced since calling for a chance to face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a boxing match when he has no prior experience in the ring. In his mind, Usman sees this as just another scenario in his career where he’s being doubted — and nothing satisfies him more than proving people wrong.
“You would think I train on how to punch people’s faces,” Usman said with a laugh on The Pat McAfee Show. “I put in work. I put in work each and every day, whether it’s boxing or kickboxing. We put in the time. With that time, I’m confident in my abilities. Listen, when I said, ‘Hey, Jorge Masvidal, you said you wanted a full camp, that you were going to be able to take me out with a full camp.’ I said, ‘Hey, this time I’m going to knock your head to the moon and I’m going to do it.’
“After I went out there and dealt with [Gilbert] Burns, I got him back and said, ‘Masvidal, you’re next. I’ll give you another shot, I’ll give you a full camp and I’m knocking your head to the moon this time.’ Everyone said, ‘Masvidal’s the best boxer in MMA.’ I sent him to the shadow realm. I think he’s still up there.”
As impressive as it was to knock out Masvidal in their rematch, Usman knows it’d an entirely different animal to go into a different sport and take out a multi-time champion like Alvarez.
He’s not oblivious to the challenge, but Usman also knows that if he wants to create a fight of this magnitude, he’s going to have to cross over to boxing because there’s no way “Canelo” would face him in the UFC.
“I’m brave enough to go into your arena to do it,” Usman said. “Can you say the same thing? None of these boxers are willing unless you’re James Toney back [in 2010] when he fought Randy Couture. These guys aren’t willing to do it.
“I’m brave enough to say, ‘F*** you, I’m coming in there and I’m going to come in there and give you hell as long as I’m able to do this.’”
Usman also sees his pursuit of a fight against “Canelo” as a much different endeavor than the showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor back in 2017, which ended up as one of the most successful pay-per-view broadcasts of all-time.
That fight was lightning in a bottle with two of the most prolific trash talkers in combat sports history, but Usman says nobody really picked McGregor to actually win the fight.
“Let’s be honest, a lot of people knew kind of what was going to happen just because Conor was just that guy, and then you’re fighting a guy in Floyd who doesn’t get hit,” Usman said. “I don’t care who you are. Professional boxers just won’t hit him.
“He’s not one of those guys who’s going to just stand there and trade punches with you to where you have a shot. He’s just not that guy. Now that was that scenario. That’s why that was so big. These guys could talk.”
Usman believes facing “Canelo” would be a much different situation because he’s confident the 31-year-old Mexican fighter, who is coming off just the second loss of his career after falling to Dmitry Bivol this past weekend, would meet him in the middle of the ring and battle it out until one of them is done.
“When you have the pound-for-pound boxer on the planet at the moment where he’s going to stand there, he’s going to bang, he’s going to fight,” Usman said. “He’s coming in there to hurt you. Then you’ve got the pound-for-pound fighter on the planet around the same weight class that can actually do it and both be in their prime? You’ve never had that.
“I’m not a big talker to go out there and talk a bunch of trash — I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell you what I’m capable of doing. I 100 percent stand by that, and you can look at every guy that I’ve talked about doing certain things to, and I definitely did it.”