Kamaru Usman is taking his first UFC loss in great spirits.
Usman’s longtime reign as welterweight champion came to an end this past Saturday at UFC 278 when Leon Edwards landed a stunning headkick knockout in the final minute of their championship headliner. “The Nigerian Nightmare” was less than 60 seconds away from defending his title until the shocking moment happened.
In the end, Usman has taken everything — from the highlight, to the reaction of fans — in stride.
“It was a great shot, I’m talking Hail Mary in the Super Bowl,” Usman told TMZ. “That was a great shot, man.
“It’s not hard at all [to watch it]. Do you know how many people I’ve done that to? It happened, and that’s the beautiful thing about this sport — that happens, but we forget what was actually taking place in that fight. I’m not down at all. It’s almost like everyone is more sad about it than I am. Everyone else is more emotional than I am. To me, that lets me know that people care, that people are invested.
“I’m so gracious with just the time, and it sucks that the attention is from a defeat,” Usman continued. “I thought I was famous before, but f***, with the meme action going on, oh, I’m famous now.
“It just creates hunger for the return, and I’m just excited for what’s next. I have a rare opportunity now to just inspire and motivate people that you can fall and get back up. I’m excited about it.”
Edwards finds himself in a very interesting spot where his next fight is going to be, likely, the most lucrative of his career. While UFC President Dana White believes Edwards and Usman will run it back, there’s other options in play potentially.
In Usman’s eyes, there’s only one fight that needs to happen — the trilogy in London.
“What else makes sense? I mean, look at the division,” Usman explained. “It’s absolutely what’s going to happen next. I talked to Dana and we’re going to see, let him do his job, and we’ll see what date makes sense. It’s going to be the top of next year.
“I was going to try to squeeze [another] one in this year, but I want the top of next year, and I want to go to England. I’ve been fiending to go to England. I feel like it’s my second home [because] England is like half Africa. People don’t know that, but it’s time to go over there and entertain the English people. And what better story? You couldn’t write this any better.
With a win over Edwards under his belt in December 2015, and the unbelievable ending to their second meeting, Usman is happy for his two-time opponent and is excited to have his opportunity to regain the title in early 2023.
“I like Leon. I’ve always liked Leon,” Usman said. “I actually follow Leon on social media, it’s weird. He don’t follow me, but that’s what it is.
“I like Leon, and I’m very happy for Leon. In a sense, he took on the same path, the same journey that I took, he kind of reminds me of me. But this is great for his story, and it’s even greater for my story so we’ll run it back. He’s wanted to fight in London for a while, and now he’s got it. Now you got it, and it’s a big one. It’s a mega-fight. Congratulations to Leon. What a beautiful technique, what a Hail Mary. That’s why I love this sport: anything can happen at any time, and it definitely did.”