Already considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, Usman aims for the sixth defense of his welterweight title on Saturday. But if he gets past Leon Edwards, he said an immediate move up to 205 pounds is absolutely possible.
“I think any fight that I fight next is going to be a gigantic fight,” Usman said during the UFC 278 media day. “I’ve already stated that I want that light heavyweight belt. For a lot of people it’s crazy but a lot of things seem crazy until it’s done.
“I stated that I wanted it. After this win, [UFC President] Dana [White] and I will sit down and we’ll have a conversation.”
Much like when Usman was calling for a boxing match against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the reigning 170-pound champion promises he’s not clout chasing or just making outlandish statements to get attention.
Instead, the 35-year-old Nigerian born fighter insists everything he’s been teasing from a potential boxing match to a move up two divisions to challenge for a second title is absolutely want he wants to accomplish for his career.
“You guys think that I kid when I come up here?” Usman said. “I usually laugh when I’m kidding, but I’m not kidding. Everyone thought I was playing with the whole ‘Canelo’ situation. I wasn’t.
“I really wanted that. It’s something that I wanted. It didn’t come to fruition then, who knows what the future holds but that light heavyweight belt. I’m not saying I would run through the division, don’t get me wrong, but at the top, I think I can get it done.”
It remains to be seen if the UFC would grant Usman’s wish, but he’s intent on at least approaching the subject with White after his fight is finished with Edwards. As far as the logistics involved with competing at 205 pounds after spending his entire career as a welterweight, he doesn’t seem overly concerned.
“I don’t need to put on no weight,” Usman said. “People don’t understand what my death grip is like. I can get around you. I don’t care whether you’re heavyweight or 205, these understand what my strength is. I have an idea what I want to do in a fight, but I leave that up to my coaches.
“I have an approach of how I want to fight those fights in my head, which usually comes out when everything else is failing in the fight, I just f****** go. However I want to fight, I’m going to fight it. I’m going to try the coaches’ way, this is what y’all dialed up, I’m going to do it but if everything is failing, f*** it, let’s just go.”
From the sound of things, Usman doesn’t intend on spending the rest of his career at light heavyweight, but instead wants one fight for the title in the bigger division. That will keep him from any possible conflict with close friend Israel Adesanya, who remains UFC middleweight champion.
As Usman stated, he’s not slamming the entire division as if he would just tear through everybody fighting at 205 pounds, which is why he is quick to reject the suggestion he could one day challenge Jon Jones, by far the longest-reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history.
“We’ve got to chill with these scenarios now,” Usman said. “Nah, Jon is Jon, he’s big as hell, which is why he can easily make that transition to heavyweight. If the money’s right, I’ll try my luck, but Jon is great. Jon is a fantastic competitor and definitely in that conversation as the best-ever.”