UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman made a steady and dominant run to the title he won this year against Tyron Woodley, and on Saturday, December 14, the 170-pound boss will face heated rival Colby Covington in the main event of UFC 245 in Las Vegas.
So how did “The Nigerian Nightmare” get here? Here’s how we called his greatest UFC hits…
TUF 21 Finale - July 12, 2015
South Florida bragging rights went to the Blackzilians at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, as Kamaru Usman submitted American Top Team’s Hayder Hassan in the second round to give his team the Ultimate Fighter team trophy and a $300,000 prize, wrapping up season 21 of the reality series.
“It was a long road, I’ve been working so hard for this, and my manager (Glenn Robinson) believed in me when most didn’t,” Usman said. “I’m glad he decided to trust me and put me in a position to represent my team and get the job done, because I knew I could get the job done for us.”
Not surprisingly, Usman scored a takedown in the opening minute, but Hassan bounced up quickly, putting the fight back on the feet. He wasn’t able to get off his power shots there, and soon he was on the deck again. This time, Usman landed with hard shots as he took his opponent’s back briefly, and he continued to dominate the action on the mat, wrapping up an impressive round.
Hassan finally got his offense in order as round two opened, and though he briefly staggered Usman, the “Nigerian Nightmare” put the bout back on the mat and sunk in an arm triangle choke. Hassan tried to escape, but he was eventually forced to tap out at the 1:19 mark.
With the win, Usman, who also received a Harley Davidson motorcycle, improves to 6-1; Hassan falls to 6-2.
American Top Team won the regular season title, worth $200,000, on TUF 21.
UFC Orlando - Dec 19, 2015
The grappling of Kamaru Usman was too much for England’s Leon Edwards in their welterweight bout at Amway Center in Orlando, with “The Nigerian Nightmare” using that attack to win a three-round unanimous decision in UFC Fight Night early prelim action.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice.
Despite spending some time on his back, Edwards had a good first round, tossing off all but one of Usman’s takedown attempts as he displayed solid stand-up techniques. And even off his back, the Brit stayed busy with a triangle choke attempt and some elbows.
A thudding left by Usman began round two and set up a second takedown, and this time the Ultimate Fighter alum controlled the grappling portion of the fight on the mat and when the two stood and clinched against the fence. Edwards got off some punches while standing, but a late takedown by Usman added more points to his tally.
In the third, Usman’s wrestling broke the fight open against the tiring Edwards, and the dominant ground attack was just what the Floridian needed to secure the round and the fight.
UFC Pittsburgh - September 17, 2017
Rising welterweight star Kamaru Usman delivered the most impressive victory of his UFC run, as he knocked out Sergio Moraes in the first round to increase his overall winning streak to 10.
Usman was determined to make a statement against the Brazilian and he marched after him from the start, refusing to look for one of his trademark takedowns. In the first minute, he followed up a hard leg kick with a right hand that dropped Moraes, and it was the beginning of the end for “The Panther,” who rose to his feet, only to be finished with another right hand that put him down face first at 2:48 of the opening frame.
UFC Chile - May 19, 2018
Kamaru Usman may not have made the spectacular statement he wanted to in his UFC Fight Night main event against Demian Maia, but at Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile, “The Nigerian Nightmare” did get the big win over a top five contender he needed, as he turned back the former world title challenger via unanimous decision.
“For the longest, everyone’s talking about that I haven’t fought a top ten guy,” said Usman, who said after the fight that he broke both of his hands during the five-rounder. “That’s a legend, a two-time title challenger, and I just dominated him from start to finish.”
The final scores read 50-45 and 49-46 twice for the No. 7-ranked Usman, who improves to 13-1. The No. 5-ranked Maia, who replaced the injured Santiago Ponzinibbio on short notice, falls to 25-9.
Maia scored the first takedown of the fight in the second minute, only to see Usman jump right back up. Maia remained locked up with his foe against the fence, but with a little under 90 seconds left, referee Leon Roberts restarted the stalled action. As the two remained on the feet until the horn, Maia landed the most significant blow of the round, a hard left hand that got Usman’s attention.
Usman stuffed Maia’s first three takedown attempts in round two, making sure to get in some strikes in between these defensive stops. And while Maia jumped guard, it was in the final 20 seconds, giving him little time to do anything with the takedown.
Maia’s takedowns continued to come up short in the third round and Usman, while not spectacular, was getting more confident as the fight progressed and he put another round in the bank.
Early in round four, an Usman right hand put Maia on the canvas, and soon after, Maia was cut over the left eye as well. When the two rose, Maia’s takedown attempt was turned away, with Usman getting in short punches in response.
The fifth was another round for Usman, with Maia having few answers for the rising star.
Rafael Dos Anjos
TUF 28 Finale - November 30, 2018
In control from start to finish, welterweight contender Kamaru Usman made a statement to the rest of the division with a five-round unanimous decision over former world champion Rafael Dos Anjos, extending his winning streak to 13 at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas.
Scores were 50-43, 49-45 and 48-47.
Usman got his first takedown in the second minute of the fight, but Dos Anjos rose quickly. Usman kept him locked up against the fence for a spell until the Brazilian fought loose. Usman did well with his striking at range, but it was obvious that he wanted the fight on the mat, and he kept looking to put it there. With under a minute left, he got his wish, and he stayed busy from the top position until the horn, but not before taking a hard upkick from RDA for his trouble.
Usman kept Dos Anjos on the mat for much of round two, but the Brazilian stayed busy, nearly locking up his opponent’s arm, which forced Usman to scramble to his feet to escape. Once upright, Usman got right back into the pocket, landing some hard strikes before clinching again. But as the round closed, Dos Anjos put Usman on the defensive with some hard strikes.
Continuing to mix up his striking and grappling nicely, Usman controlled matters again throughout round three, and while the bloodied Dos Anjos remained dangerous with his striking and submission attempts, he was running out of time to turn the fight around, and in the fourth round, Usman stepped on the gas and added to his lead with an even more punishing attack.
There was more of the same from Usman in the fifth and final round. Dos Anjos did look for a guillotine choke briefly, but he wasn’t able to finish it, and after getting free, “The Nigerian Nightmare” kept delivering ground strikes in an attempt to finish the gutsy Brazilian before. And though Usman didn’t get the finish, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the victory he delivered.
UFC 235 - March 2, 2019
It was a masterful effort by underdog challenger Kamaru Usman in his UFC 235 co-main event against Tyron Woodley, and after five rounds at T-Mobile Arena, the Nigeria native transitioned from challenger to champion as he scored a shutout unanimous decision to take the welterweight crown and become the first African-born fighter to wear UFC gold.
Scores were 50-44 twice and 50-45 for Usman, now 15-1. Woodley, who was making the fifth defense of the title he won from Robbie Lawler in 2016, falls to 19-4-1.
“I might not be the best striker or best pure wrestler, but when it comes mixing it all up, I am the best welterweight in the world right now,” said Usman.
Usman looked for a single leg takedown to start the fight and he got it, despite a brief guillotine choke attempt by Woodley, and that set the tone for the bout. The champion got up to his feet fairly quickly, and the two remained locked up for a spell before Woodley broke free. Usman immediately sought the takedown again, and while Woodley remained upright, Usman was landing good shots to the body while in the clinch. After a restart from referee Marc Goddard with a minute left, Usman again landed solid close range shots before the end of the round.
Going right back into the clinch, Usman’s fast start extended into the second round and was punctuated by a big elbow followed by a huge takedown. Usman went right into the mount position on his bloodied foe, and he alternated with ground strikes and smothering pressure. In the final minute, Usman looked for an arm triangle briefly before finishing the round with more ground strikes.
Woodley tried to start fast in round three, but Usman dodged any incoming fire and bulled the champion into the fence, digging in with thudding body shots along the way. Goddard went on to restart the action twice, but Woodley continued to have issues staying off the fence, putting another round in the challenger’s bank.
Woodley attempted a guillotine choke and pulled guard in the opening minute of round four, but Usman got loose with no problem and took over from the top position. After another odd restart from Goddard, Usman proceeded to add knees in the clinch and once that clinch broke, Usman began landing blistering shots on Woodley, who was rattled but still standing when the horn sounded.
Another guillotine attempt by Woodley began round five, but Usman played it cool and dumped the Missouri native on the deck. Usman fired off strikes from the top position, and Woodley had no answers for him. Now or in the previous 24 minutes. And that's why there's a new welterweight champion.
UFC 245: 3 Champions, 3 Titles, 1 Historic Night
UFC 245: 3 Champions, 3 Titles, 1 Historic Night