Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has shown the strength of his character by calling out feared fighter Khamzat Chimaev next despite having lost his last two fights, but Anthony Smith believes it’s a bad match-up for the veteran star at this stage in his career.
“It’s a bold move, for sure,” Smith said on the ‘Believe You Me’ podcast he co-host’s with Michael Bisping. “It says a lot about where he is mentally because I think a lot of people were kind of writing him off just a little bit and saying, ‘Oh, he’s done. He’s probably just gonna kind of fade off into retirement.’ But him wanting to fight Khamzat is the total opposite of that.
“That’s a tough fight for Kamaru if I’m just being very honest and fair with my analysis. I think what he does well kind of fits right into Khamzat’s game. I think maybe a younger less beat-up Kamaru, I think that fight’s a little bit different. He’s not as much of a wrestler as he used to be. He used to chase the takedown relentlessly. I don’t think he even has the capability to really do that anymore just with his knees and some of that stuff.
“…I think it’s ballsy because of the style matchup. Just the mentality to want to do that. I am curious though why Khamzat’s been on the shelf for so long. Because he’s seemingly been begging for fights, says he’ll fight anybody, anytime, is ready to go. Then Belal [Muhammad] has talked about fighting him at certain points, Kamaru’s ready to fight him. There is a couple people that are willing to step up and do it and for whatever reason just hasn’t happened so it seems like there’s something else going on in the background.”
Though he’s now lost twice in a row to Leon Edwards, it’s worth remembering that Usman hasn’t lost to anyone else during his 15 previous fights in the UFC. Given that one of those wins was actually against Edwards all the way back in 2015 and the fact that he was winning their second fight up until that infamous head kick in the 5th round that KO’d him perhaps it’s understandable why ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ still has a tremendous amount of belief in his own ability.
That being said, he does by his own admission suffer from knee issues and he seemed off his game in his third fight with Edwards back in March, so if he does land the fight against Chimaev he will need to bring his A-game or else his bold call-out could easily backfire on him.