All hail King Kamaru Usman, the new dominant figure in the Welterweight category in one of the most brutal sport a man can think about. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The sport is an American mixed martial arts promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, that is owned and operated by parent company William Morris Endeavor. Moments after the Nigerian overpowered number one in the category, American Tyron Woodley, to become the first African to win a belt in the deadly sport, Usman via a telephone conversation put together by DSTv bares his mind to Femi Solaja on what he wants to attain after the conquest
The Nigerian-American fighter was born in Auchi, Edo State. His father was in the Nigerian army and at about eight years old, he migrated with his family to United States. He started wrestling in his sophomore year in high school, at Bowie High School in Arlinton, Texas and achieved a record of 53-3 in high school wrestling and thereafter continued his career at Williams Penn University and laterUniversity of Nebraska where he attained more glory but his journey changed when he met former champion, Rashae Heaven who encouraged him to switch to martial art sport and today the rest is history.
Although Usman admitted that he could not speak his native dialect, that did not translate to total disconnect with the Nigerian background because he still communicates with families and friends in broken English rather than the fluent American slangs most young men and women in his category embraced. “I left the country when I was very young and that was a great disconnect but my parents encourage me and I’m happy that the Nigerian blood in me is very thick and I hope to go higher with it.
“I am a fan of many Nigerian artistes like Olamide, Davido, Wiz Kid and many more whom I listen to their musics during my pastimes instead of numerous R&B famous artistes here in America.
“My daughter, Famirah Usman is my major inspiration of this conquest. Before now she has always watched my fights on television but because of the importance of last weekend bout in my life, I gave her a seat at the ring side and behold she motivated me to victory. This explained why I brought her to the ring to be part of the success story in my life,” he explained.
Until recently when DSTv through one of its dedicated channels, SuperSports 226 started airing series, UFC looks more like an alien sport. However, as Usman continued to hit the limelight winning many battles just like few other Nigerian in the mix, the sport is beginning to gain recognition in the society especially among the youths.
“My sport is a brutal one and it’s survival of the fittest. Only the strong stay alive to tell his story. I have adapted to it because if many critics say it’s too bloody and scary, it is the wildness that makes it entertaining to many of us. To stay alive you have to crush your opponent to submission and I’m happy that most of my injuries are not fatal.
“After attaining greatness in my category and for a long time I want to retain the belt. However, my ultimate goal is to bring as many Nigerians as possible into this sport. As the most populous black nation I think we have many potentials that could fit into our sport.
“Our youths naturally strong and bold to attain greatness and instead of wasting away, it will be a good development if they chanel their energy into a useful venture instead of restiveness that they have been known for,” he pointed out.
He strongly believes in the next few years, UFC will have its own fair share of the market on the continent of Africa and that is one cross he is ready to carry when he comes visiting in the next few months.
“So far, all my achievements have been self-motivated but for me to expand my coast, I need to meet with Nigerian government both at state and national levels, set up academies and other related projects that will help in the development of the sport locally,” Usman remarked.
While the much-advertised fight between former welterweight boxing champion Floyd May Weather and UFC champion Mc Gregor received flaks from critics after the mega bout, Usman sees nothing wrong in the contest. He said sports generally was about entertainment and that was exactly what the duo did and luckily for them, it was a mega pay but no contest some sort.
“If such opportunity comes my way, I don’t see anything wrong in going for such a contest between two different sport that shares some similarities,” he responded.
The UFC is the biggest competition in MMA, where competitors combine boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and other disciplines while fighting in an octagonal cage.
Usman, 31, produced the performance of his career to dominate long-reigning welterweight champion Woodley.
He extended his winning streak to 14 and maintained his unbeaten record in the UFC.
In his post-match press conference he revealed that before the match, he had fractured his foot and had been walking around in a supportive boot all week.
The trend is illustrated in UFC’s price – the competition was bought in 2001 for $2m by the Fertita brothers. They sold it to a group of firms in 2016 for $4bn, according to Forbes business magazine.