Kamaru Usman believes he was tested on Saturday night and passed with flying colors, so much so that he believes that he is ready to fight Tyron Woodley for the UFC welterweight championship.
Usman was originally slated to face Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Fight Night 129 in Santiago, Chile, but an injury forced the Argentinian out of the fight. Former welterweight and middleweight title challenger Demian Maia, largely considered one of the best submission specialists to ever fight in mixed martial arts, stepped up on three weeks notice to fight Usman when no one else would.
"Let's be honest, nobody, nobody in my division wants to fight me because I'm the hardest fight for anybody. This fight right here (with Maia), this is a fight that Dana White wanted. He wanted to test me against the most dangerous guy in the division. That was the most dangerous guy in the division," Usman said after routing Maia to take home a unanimous decision.
"The champion is easier for me to fight and you got these other two bums (Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington) that are fighting for an interim title, those guys are bums, those guys are easier for me to fight. This was the hardest fight in the division."
Maia tried over and over to take Usman down to the canvas where he might be able to work his submission wizardry, but the Nigerian stuffed his attempts all night long. He forced Maia to stay on his feet where Usman was superior, hurting Maia, but unable to finish him.
Kamaru Usman Believes He Passed Dana White's Test
Being able to handle anything that Maia threw his direction, Usman believes he passed UFC president Dana White's test.
"I believe Dana really wanted to test me to see if I had all the tools and I proved I'm good everywhere," said Usman at the UFC Chile post-fight press conference. "I can defend the takedowns, I can get a guy down if I want them, I can keep it standing and strike, I can do it all.
"This was the hardest fight in the division. I believe Tyron Woodley is an easier fight than this fight and those two bums that are fighting for the interim title, they're easier fights. I've called those guys out, all you hear is crickets."
Kamaru Usman Wants a Shot at the Belt
So what's next for Usman? He believes he injured both of his hands during the fight, so what comes of that remains to be seen, but he believes there are only a couple of options. The one that he feels he is ready for, however, is the champ.
"I think I should fight for the belt, like, next. I just dominated (Maia) better than Tyron Woodley. Tyron ran from him the whole fight. Tyron threw, what, the fewest strikes in a championship fight ever? And I just went out and I just dominated the guy from start to finish," Usman proclaimed.
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"I want to fight for that title by the end of the year, if possible."
If he doesn't get Woodley, Usman's list is short. He wants the champion or the winner of the upcoming UFC Liverpool headliner between knockout artist Darren Till and No. 1 contender Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson.
"It's either Woodley or the winner of Till and Wonderboy, that's it."