Kamarudeen Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a Nigerian-American professional mixed martial artist. He currently competes in the Welterweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He is the current UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman is also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. As of July 14, 2020, he is #5 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings
Usman was born in Auchi, Nigeria. His father was in the Nigerian Army and his mother was a teacher. He has two brothers, Kashetu and Mohammed, of whom the former is a Doctor of Pharmacy and the latter is a mixed martial artist. Usman and his family moved from Benin City and immigrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. He started wrestling in his sophomore year in high school, at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. Because Usman’s wrestling coach at the time had trouble pronouncing his first name Kamarudeen, he got the nickname “Marty” when he joined the team and it stuck with him during his amateur wrestling career. After compiling a 53-3 record in high school and placing third at the Texas state championships, Usman wrestled alongside Jon Jones at the senior national tournament before leaving for college.
In college, Usman wrestled in Iowa at William Penn University for one year, where he was an NAIA national tournament qualifier in 2007, but was unable to attend the tournament due to a snowstorm; half of his team and his head coach, however, had left early for the tournament without him, which frustrated Usman and influenced him to leave William Penn. He later transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), which had previously tried to recruit him under advisement of then-UNK wrestler Tervel Dlagnev, and subsequently helped the Lopers win their first-ever team title in 2008. Usman earned NCAA Division II All-American honors all three years he attended UNK, and was a two-time national finalist. He became the NCAA Division II national champion at 174 pounds in 2010, finishing his season with a 44-1 record. Shortly after his folkstyle career was over, Usman turned his attention to freestyle wrestling and became a resident of the United States Olympic Training Center, with hopes of making the ’12 Olympic team. Despite making the US University World Team in 2010, Usman was sidetracked by injuries and eventually abandoned his Olympic goal, turning his attention to mixed martial arts instead. Former National Football League (NFL) star Christian Okoye, who has the nickname “The Nigerian Nightmare” trademarked, gave his blessing for Usman to use it.
Mixed martial arts career
Professional MMA career
Usman made his professional MMA debut in November 2012. He compiled a record of 5–1, competing for several regional promotions before trying out for The Ultimate Fighter in early 2015.
The Ultimate Fighter
In February 2015, it was announced that Usman was one of the fighters selected to be on The Ultimate Fighter 21.
In his first fight on the show, Usman faced Michael Graves. He won the fight via majority decision.
In the semifinals, Usman faced off against former WSOF Welterweight Champion Steve Carl. He won the fight via unanimous decision and advanced to the finals.
In the finals, Usman faced Hayder Hassan on July 12, 2015, at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale. He won the bout via submission in the second round, thus winning a six-figure contract with the UFC. He was also awarded a Performance of the Night bonus.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Usman faced Leon Edwards on December 19, 2015, at UFC on Fox 17. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
Usman was expected to face Sérgio Moraes on May 14, 2016, at UFC 198. However, Usman was replaced on the card for undisclosed reasons by promotional newcomer Luan Chagas.
Usman next faced Alexander Yakovlev on July 23, 2016, at UFC on Fox 20. He won the one-sided fight via unanimous decision.
Usman faced Warlley Alves on November 19, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 100. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
Usman faced Sean Strickland on April 8, 2017, at UFC 210. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
A rescheduled bout with Sérgio Moraes eventually took place on September 16, 2017, at UFC Fight Night 116. Usman won the fight via knockout in the first round.
Usman was scheduled to face Emil Weber Meek on December 30, 2017, at UFC 219, but the fight was rescheduled for UFC Fight Night 124. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
Usman was expected to face Santiago Ponzinibbio on May 19, 2018, at UFC Fight Night 129. However, on April 21, Ponzinibbio was pulled from the card due to injury and replaced by Demian Maia. Usman won the fight via unanimous decision.
Usman faced Rafael dos Anjos on November 30, 2018, at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. He won the fight via unanimous decision. This win earned him the Performance of the Night award.
UFC Welterweight Champion
Riding a nine-fight winning streak in the UFC, Usman next faced UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley on March 2, 2019, in the co-main event at UFC 235. He won the one-sided fight via unanimous decision after dominating his opponent for five rounds to be crowned as the new UFC Welterweight Champion.
Usman made his first title defense and faced long-time rival Colby Covington at UFC 245 on December 14, 2019. Despite both athletes being mostly offensive wrestlers, the fight did not include any grappling and contained high-paced offense in the striking instead. After an often referred to as “slugfest”, Usman was able to knockdown his opponent twice before finishing him with strikes in the fifth round to be declared the winner via technical knockout, which set the record for the latest finish in UFC welterweight history. This fight earned both participants the Fight of the Night award.
Usman was scheduled to defend his title for the second time against Gilbert Burns on July 12, 2020 at UFC 251. Both being originally from the same camp – Sanford MMA – Usman opted to train under Trevor Wittman heading into the fight. On July 3, 2020, it was revealed that Burns tested positive for COVID-19, and he was subsequently removed from the card. On July 5, 2020, it was reported that Jorge Masvidal had stepped in on short notice and served as a replacement for Burns. Usman controlled most of the fight by keeping Masvidal in the clinch, winning via unanimous decision. The card reportedly generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys in the United States, the most since UFC 229 in October 2018.
Usman was once again scheduled to defend his title against Gilbert Burns, on December 12, 2020 at UFC 256. However, on October 5, 2020, It was reported that Usman had pulled out from the bout, citing more time needed to recover from undisclosed injuries and the bout was postponed for February 13, 2021 at UFC 258. source