UFC CEO Dana White once called Kamaru Usman “the greatest welterweight ever,” during the “Nigerian Nightmare’s” torrid run through the 170-pound ranks, which included his three-year stint as division champion.
Leon Edwards knocked him clean out at UFC 278, then handily defeated him in their UFC 286 rematch.
White also said that longtime title contender, Colby Covington, would be welterweight champion if Usman did not exist. Undaunted, “Rocky” took center stage at UFC 296 last weekend in Las Vegas and shut “Chaos” down for the better part of five rounds.
Somehow, he still has something to prove to former UFC champion and current color commentator Daniel Cormier, who insists Edwards’ performance left him “wanting a little more.” Cormier also claims the Covington win was not “resounding” enough to cement him as the world’s shiniest welterweight.
“I think it’s in these moments where you’re fighting these guys, and it’s not resounding where you go, ‘Oh, I just watched the best. He showed that there’s a river between them,’” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC” (transcribed by Farah Hannoun). “So then people wouldn’t question it. But he should get more respect, and I believe that in time he will, but my worry now is he’s done away with the names. He’s done away with the names in the division.”
Fellow color commentator Joe Rogan was also critical of Edwards’ performance.
“Unless people hold him in high regard right now, the Shavkat Rakhmonovs, the Belal Muhammads, those guys don’t have the name value of Usman, Covington, (Nate) Diaz to really elevate him,” Cormier continued. “So when you fight these guys, you have to take something from them. Their shine needs to become your shine if you want to become that guy that is the pay-per-view draw. So I think that what Leon’s going to have to do next is put the next person away and do it in a fashion that there are no more questions, that you know you have to watch a Leon Edwards fight.”
Top contender, Belal Muhammad, has faced a similar struggle.
Edwards, 32, is undefeated across his last 13 fights and just beat two of the world’s best welterweights in Usman and Covington, and yet somehow the talking heads are left “wanting more.” Since UFC has never been a big Edwards fan, I guess it’s up to the cogs in the machine to keep that narrative running.