Kamaru Usman is currently riding a 15-fight UFC win streak. The Welterweight kingpin has defended his title five times, and he’s widely regarded as the current pound-for-pound king of the sport. Comparisons to previous Welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre are rampant, and Usman has talked about jumping two weight classes directly into a title fight.
Safe to say, “The Nigerian Nightmare” is riding high.
Usman’s next title defense is scheduled opposite Leon Edwards at UFC 278 on Aug. 20 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The two have clashed once previously in December 2015, with Usman winning a unanimous decision victory after coming on strong in the second and third round. As a result, Usman enters the rematch as a significant favorite.
However, it’s worth noting that Usman, age 35, is five years older than Edwards. He’s also been in a couple back-and-forth wars with Colby Covington in recent years, whereas Edwards’ victories have largely been dominant and damage free (barring a moment of boredom). As such, Edwards believes his opponent’s body is breaking down, making UFC 278 the perfect time to dethrone the king.
“All I’ve been doing is training,” Edwards told CBS Sports. “The Khamzat Chimaev fight, for example, that’s three camps. I’ve done many camps and improved leaps and bounds. Now is the perfect time to fight. I think those years looking back on it now were blessings in disguise. It gave me time to hone my skills and polish what I needed to polish. [Usman’s] competed but he’s also been in wars. His body is breaking down and I think now is the perfect time.
“But I’m not going in there thinking that. I’m going in prepared for the so-called pound-for-pound best.”
Usman’s injuries and wear and tear have been a topic of concern in the past. Notably, Usman revealed to Joe Rogan that he hasn’t run in years because his knees are damaged. In addition, hand injuries nearly derailed this match up against “Rocky!” Even great athletes can fall to injury, and at his age, Usman is right in the danger zone of falling off athletically.
We’ll find out where both men stand next weekend.