mma / Columns

Kamaru Usman: Welcome to His Nightmare

March 7, 2019 | Posted by Evan Zivin
Kamaru Usman UFC

Random question: Does anyone think Johnny Walker’s upward momentum may get stifled because of his name?

Sure, he spells his first name slightly different from the Scotch whisky company Johnnie Walker but it still sounds the same, which still makes it hilarious to imagine a giant bottle of whiskey knocking a dude on his ass with a flying knee and then celebrating the victory by falling on its face and separating its shoulder (or whatever the bottle equivalent is), as Walker apparently did at UFC 235 on Saturday night.

C’mon, UFC. That sponsor deal is a no brainer.

Seriously though, why wasn’t Johnny on the Payperview main card? If he keeps up the destruction, we may actually have a reason to care about the light heavyweight division again beyond taking bets on how many drug tests Jon Jones failed this month.

Not that it matters much, as Jones has the support of the athletic commissions so that means everything is pretty much back to the way it used to be. Bones is on top beating up men who have no business being in the same cage as him and it’s like the last four years never happened, or at least that’s what Dana White hopes happens. We tend to have pretty short term memories, don’t we?

Speaking of which, how about Jon Jones beating Anthony Smith last Saturday? That was a pretty classic performance from Ol’ Picograms over there…It wasn’t anything spectacular but it got the job done. And at least the illegal knee allowed everyone to forget about the drugs for a few moment. We can always cherish that.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Tyron Woodley, as his reign of terror (as I assume UFC’s marketing department refers to it behind closed doors) as UFC Welterweight Champion is over, dethroned by Kamaru Usman, the man who earned the shot because the rightful contender pissed the boss off.

Usman’s ascent towards the title is an interesting one, in that it’s one that even the most devoted of UFC fans could have easily paid little attention to as it was happening.

I mean, yeah, Usman’s UFC career to date has been one of the more impressive on the active roster. He came into UFC 235 riding a 13 fight win streak, having not lost since his second pro fight, amassing a 9-0 UFC record against a wide array of skillsets, using his wrestling to win battles in mostly convincing fashion.

That being said, there was definitely enough reason to doubt his chances at capturing UFC gold, as, the only wins of his streak that could be considered quality came in his last two, against Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos, and that’s including the godawful season of The Ultimate Fighter he was on.

And he was at least at 70% in those fights. Or at least he didn’t use it as an excuse after…

Plus, Woodley has proven his ability to beat back tough challenges, like he did against Darren Till last September. Woodley is a fighter who’s been counted out a lot in his career but, when the brightest lights have been shining, he’s usually persevered, albeit barely in some instances.

Turns out the challenge Usman presented was too big for Woodley to overcome.

I’m sure champagne corks were popping at UFC Headquarters after the fight.

It was never a secret that UFC has had its troubles with Woodley. He became champion at the height of Conormania, doing what he could to parlay his newly acquired championship into big money opportunities against the likes of Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz, fights he never got because of course he wasn’t getting those fights.

I mean, who did he think he was trying to make a name for himself, talking himself into future Payperview headliners while only wanting to fight when he’s healthy and being properly compensated?

What kind of champion does that? Right?

The bad thing for Woodley is that all those squabbles may end up being his legacy in the eyes of most fans, especially after Usman dominated him with wrestling and brutalized him with hard body shots throughout the course of their 25 minute encounter. In winning a unanimous decision, Usman beat Woodley at his own game and looked more dominant than Woodley has ever looked doing it.

That’s not good for Woodley, especially if he thinks he’s getting a rematch anytime soon. He probably wouldn’t have been given one if the fight was close but he definitely won’t get one after spending five rounds on his back.

Dana’s already said what’s on deck now for Usman: a showdown with Colby Covington, the former Interim UFC Welterweight Champion who lost his place in line because his body refuses to operate on the UFC’s schedule and the fighter who Dana said was going to need to fight again to get himself another shot at the championship.

So much for that…who knew being such a nuisance would result in opportunities that wouldn’t have been afforded to you otherwise?

What’s that? Colby knew that? It’s the reason he’s been insufferable yet constantly in contention the last couple of years? Oh so now you tell me…

Considering the paths Usman and Covington took to get to the top of the UFC Welterweight division, and the trash the two have talked to each other these last messy few months, this fight could be a bigger one than Woodley vs. Usman was or Woodley vs. Covington might have been.

It sells itself:

Usman vs. Covington

Marty vs. Colby

The Blackzillians vs. American Top Team

The Nigerian Nightmare vs. The All-American Wrestler


C’mon, everyone! Let’s Make America Great at Covering Dana’s Blackjack Losses Again! No old ladies at the casino can get in the way of this action.

Just make the fight happen before Colby spoils the ending to Avengers Endgame. Seriously, he better not think about doing it…

However, if he does, we can always send Robbie Lawler to go Angle Slam him like he did Ben Askren. And you thought Ben was “Funky” before…he was more shaken up than Herb Dean’s reputation, amirite?

Fear the Usman. Or catch him on tour this summer with Alice Cooper. It’s going to be an explosive year.

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

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Kamaru Usman, Evan Zivin