Kamaru Usman
Nigerian Nightmare

Nigeria

Booked for headliner at UFC 261
WelterweightUFC
March 15, 2021
Usman (foot) will take on Jorge Masvidal for the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 261 on April 24, Mike Heck of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Usman successfully retained his UFC Welterweight Championship in February when he defeated Gilbert Burns via TKO (punches) at UFC 258, but he sustained a right foot injury during the fight. He'll be able to return to the Octagon just over two months later in a rematch against Masvidal. Masvidal's last fight was in July 2020, when he lost to Usman via unanimous decision at UFC 251. Usman has slight advantages in both height and reach.
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Possible medical suspension
WelterweightUFC
February 17, 2021
Usman has been suspended six months by the Nevada Athletic Commission pending medical clearance of a right foot injury, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Usman successfully retained his UFC Welterweight Championship on Saturday when he defeated Gilbert Burns via TKO (punches) at UFC 258, but he apparently didn't escape unscathed. The 32-year-old will be sidelined at least 30 days due to a right foot injury, and he'll need to submit a clean X-ray in order to avoid a six-month suspension. If his X-ray comes back positive, he must be cleared by a doctor if he hopes to return to the Octagon prior to Aug. 13.
Remains welterweight king
WelterweightUFC
February 13, 2021
Usman successfully retained his UFC Welterweight Championship on Saturday, defeating Gilbert Burns via TKO (punches) at 0:34 of Round 3 at UFC 258 in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It's going to take a monumental effort to get the belt off Usman at 170 pounds, and this was further proof of that. Burns did his very best and even had the champion in serious trouble in the early going following a massive right hook. Usman was staggered for quite a while but managed to survive and see the end of Round 1. In between rounds, Usman's coach, Trevor Wittman, said he was a champion because of his jab and Usman went out and proved that to be exactly the case. He fired off rocket after rocket, each of which left Burns in considerably worse shape than the previous shot. If Round 2 was bad for Burns, the start of Round 3 was insurmountable. Referee Herb Dean gave Burns plenty of time to recover, but it clearly wasn't happening. Usman is the complete package. He's an elite wrestler who possesses exceptional power and brute strength. It's almost impossible to see a scenario in which another welterweight outpoints this guy for 25 minutes. It's going to take one massive punch -- like the one Burns landed in Round 1 -- to stop him. Usman called out Jorge Masvidal in his post-fight interview. That would be an excellent result for Usman as it would be a fight in which he would be massively favored and should result in a huge payday for the champion. Speaking of paydays, he'll also walk away with one of four $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses that was awarded at Saturday's event.
Agrees to title defense
WelterweightUFC
January 5, 2021
Usman has agreed to defend his UFC Welterweight Championship against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 on Feb. 13, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
This matchup has been a long-time coming, as Usman was supposed to face Burns last summer before Burns had to withdraw, and he was replaced with Jorge Masvidal. After a medical suspension, the fight date was then targeted for December but ultimately pushed back. Later reports suggested a February 2021 date, and those have all but been confirmed with both fighters agreeing to the matchup. While Usman has shown incredible striking prowess of late, his undefeated record in the UFC has been built largely off his grappling. Burns will be one of his few recent opponents that will truly challenge him in this area, though Usman has passed every test so far. Oddsmakers currently peg "The Nigerian Nightmare" as approximately a (-235) favorite for the matchup.
Title fight expected for February
WelterweightUFC
November 17, 2020
Usman's welterweight title defense against Gilbert Burns is expected to take place on on Feb. 13, Raphael Marinho of Combate reports.
ANALYSIS
The matchup has been scheduled twice before. It was originally set for July 11 but was cancelled due to Burns' positive COVID-19 test. It was later set for Dec. 12 but delayed again, as Usman reportedly needed more time to prepare. While it hasn't yet been fully finalized, the fight appears to be finally set to go forward, as it's been verbally agreed to by both camps. Usman enters this fight as a strong betting favorite at (-225) as of November, but that mark is still less than it was entering previous title defenses against Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.
Title fight is off for now
WelterweightUFC
October 5, 2020
The UFC welterweight title between Usman and Gilbert Burns will not take place on Dec. 12 as previously scheduled, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
According to the report, Usman just felt he needed a little more time to be ready. There is no new date at the moment, but it seems likely to be rescheduled to either January or February. This fight originally was supposed to be on July 11, but Burns ended up withdrawing after a positive COVID-19 test and Usman handily defeated replacement Jorge Masvidal.