Heading into his fourth welterweight title defense against Jorge Masvidal on Saturday night at UFC 261, Kamaru Usman has admitted that he’s not ruled out the possibility of retiring in the near future if new contenders don’t emerge that can offer up a serious challenge to his reign as champion.
“Being a realist and I’m honest with myself and I know that I can’t do this forever and I don’t want to do this forever,” the 33-year-old Usman told mmafighting.com. “Like I said, we’re on a track right now, I’m just so far ahead of these guys that I’m coming back around and I’m lapping them now. So, talking to some of my mentors, and some of the greatest that have done this, what they’re telling me at some point it’s going to start, that waking up in the morning and going to the gym to put in a day’s work is going to start to get heavier and heavier when nothing really motivates me like that anymore.
“So this one, I’m motivated because I didn’t really feel like I got that fix. I’ve still have that fear in me. I want to go out there and get this one but after this we have to really take a hard look and see what there is out there for me. Because it’s not these guys. Whether it’s crossing over and doing something else or maybe walking away, you never know.”
In all fairness, most people would be eager to see Usman fight Colby Covington again given how competitive their first encounter was, and if Leon Edwards continues to extend his nine-fight unbeaten run then he would also be an appealing option, but the champ has criticized them and others for the fact that they appear to be ducking big fights while trying to emerge as the frontrunner for the title shot.
“These guys have to show me something to let know, to put the fear in me that ‘oh man, I’ve got to get up, I’ve got to wake up and get up and prepare for these guys. Because right now, there’s not much that they can offer me. There’s just not much cause I’m just so far ahead of them right now that I’m lapping these guys.
“Another thing that’s frustrating is these guys aren’t not wanting to fight each other. How is the champion the most active guy in the division? That’s ridiculous to me. Covington is offered to Masvidal, he turns him down. Edwards is offered to Covington, he turns him down. [Khamzat] Chimaev is offered to [Stephen] Thompson and he turns him down. These guys don’t want to fight each other but they’re waiting for the champion to just pull their number and say ‘all right, you come make some money and you come make some money.’ That’s what I mean. These guys need to go out there and put on a performance to where I’m like ‘wow.’ That motivates me. I’ve got to fight that guy.”
For now though, Usman is focused on his upcoming rematch with Masvidal, and insists that he is motivated to outdo his last dominant performance over his rival.
“I personally wasn’t satisfied with the way that I dominated him. I don’t feel like I fully broke him in the way that satisfied me. That’s why I called for it again. When I’m going through my career and I’m older and I’m sitting down and I’m like yep, broke him. Yep, broke him, too. Yep, knocked his ass out. I want to definitively sit back and say yep, I took care of that one. That was light work for me.
“That’s why I aim to do this again, I aim to improve on my performance. As you see, I’m still getting better, I’m still learning. I’m still growing as a fighter. Of course, April 24 I’ll be looking to improve on the dominant win that I’ve already gotten over him.”