New and improved Kamaru Usman ready to battle with Khamzat Chimaev

Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman moves to middleweight Saturday when he challenges Khamza Chimaev at UFC 294. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) (Mike Roach via Getty Images)

Kamaru Usman’s upcoming fight against Khamza Chimaev at UFC 294 on Saturday will mark his first bout against anyone other than Leon Edwards in nearly three years. The event, taking place at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has an interesting backstory. Usman, who was training as usual, received a call asking if he’d be open to fighting Chimaev, as his previous opponent Paulo Costa had to withdraw due to a staph infection resulting from an elbow surgery. Usman and his team gave it some thought but ultimately agreed to take the fight, despite it being in the middleweight division and with just 10 days’ notice.

Usman is currently on a two-fight losing streak and is considered the underdog against Chimaev. However, he sees this as an opportunity and is not dwelling on his recent losses to Edwards. As he explained, he had been working and preparing for future fights, so when the opportunity arose, he was ready to seize it. Usman’s coaches supported his decision, and he never doubted his ability to overcome his previous defeats.

Usman had been aware of Chimaev’s early success in the UFC and had a feeling they would eventually face each other. Chimaev gained significant attention in 2020 with his dominant performances, including two victories in just 10 days. Usman acknowledged Chimaev’s skills but also pointed out that his level of competition has increased since then.

Despite the challenges presented by Chimaev, Usman is confident in his abilities and believes he has evolved as a fighter since his matches with Edwards. He is motivated by the opportunity to face the middleweight champion, Sean Strickland, and potentially earn a title shot with a victory over Chimaev.

Reflecting on his recent losses, Usman acknowledged the unpredictability of the sport but emphasized his dedication to improvement. He has worked hard in the gym and feels prepared for the upcoming fight. Usman’s focus is on performing at his best and not letting past defeats define him.


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