Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman aiming to be world’s best
It was undoubtedly a eureka moment for Kamaru Usman after knocking out Brazilian Sergio Moraes in the first round of their Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight fight in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, United States, on Saturday.
Back home in Nigeria, a country he has identified with since he and his family moved to the US when he was just five, his victory news came to many like a bolt from the blue.
The UFC (the American mixed martial arts) is not a popular sport in Nigeria, but the game has attracted a lot of attention from Nigerians since Usman knocked out his highly-rated South American opponent.
In his post-fight interview, the 29-year-old, who was born in Benin City, Edo State, left no doubt he still has a lot of Nigerian blood flowing in his veins.
“Naija, we don land. Them say we no fit do am; I go show them say Naija no dey carry last,” the fighter nicknamed the Nigerian Nightmare said.
He is the second sports star holding dual citizenship who has openly identified with Nigeria after world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua in recent times.
After knocking Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko out in the 11th round at Wembley Stadium in London in April, British-born Joshua, whose parents come from Sagamu in Ogun State said he derives strength from eating Nigerian food.
“My heart is with Nigeria, my heart is with Britain, I’m a Nigerian by blood, yes. Eating eba with egusi is the secret of success,” he told Oma Akatugba of Sportsbrand.
According to reports, Usman, who is an American citizen, walked out to the Octagon to a song by Nigerian musician Olamide.
Although he still has many steps to climb to get to the top, Usman, who represents the Blackzilians, insists he is the best in the world.
“My game plan was straight destruction,” KweséESPN quoted Usman as saying after the bout. “Just show the savage that I really am.
“I keep telling them I’m the best in the world. They don’t want to believe me so I have to go out there and show them one guy at a time.”
He added, “I wanted to make a statement that I’m a complete fighter because everyone thinks I’m a heavy grappler. I wanted to keep it standing, just beat him up and get him out of there,” said Usman.
He challenged former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, who is currently ranked fifth in the welterweight division, to fight him.
“There’s two fights and then I’m fighting for the title. It could be two or it could be one. I’ll beat up RDA then I can fight a title eliminator against the winner of (Colby) Covington and (Demian) Maia.
“Then I’m fighting for the strap mid next year,” Usman said.
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.
Meanwhile, another Nigerian-American fighter Azunna Anyanwu lost in a controversial decision to undefeated Justin Ledet.
Despite the loss, Anyanwu won the respect of fans with his stamina as well as desire to stand and trade punches while pushing the fight. Punch