Give Usman the respect he deserves and maybe a rematch with Masvidal

Kamaru Usman achieved a lot on Saturday night at UFC 258 in Las Vegas. He won his 13th consecutive UFC welterweight bout that broke Georges St-PierreRecord for most wins at 170 pounds. Usman tied the greats too Khabib Nurmagomedov for second most straight wins to start a UFC career, and he’s now three wins away from the tie Anderson Silva‘s record of 16 straight.

Oh, and that was also his 18th overall win. And guess what? That was the most impressive of these 18 victories.

No, Really.

Usman has just stopped a scorching hot Gilbert Burns. He scored Burns’ best shot in the first round, ricocheted off, and finished Burns on TKO in the third round. He defeated Burns on strikes, which, according to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, had a price of +240.

Usman’s wrestling has always been there and now the strike comes together too. Coach Trevor Wittman did it again.

Still, Usman kept repeating after the fight to “give his name some respect”. He said it several times both in the cage and during his post-fight interview.

It might sound strange to the uninitiated for a man to ask respect with his résumé, but Usman is right. When we talk about the faces of the UFC – or even the best in the UFC – his name never seems to come up right away. It’s usually Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, Stipe Miocic, Israel Adesanya, Amanda Nunes … and then maybe Usman will be discussed. But he’s never mentioned among the best.

That is wrong and needs to change.

Usman is currently one of the best contenders in the UFC. He is a Top pound for pound Fighter. He might not get the attention others get because his style wasn’t very fan-friendly during that dominant run. However, a few more wins like this one will change that.

One thing he isn’t – at least not yet – is the greatest welterweight ever. Yes, I know he only beat one St Pierre record, but Usman has to beat another – or at least get closer – to take part in this conversation: successful title defense. This was Usman’s third successful title defense; GSP had 9. There is a massive difference.

This is not intended to belittle Usman, and it should not be understood that way. He’s in now Matt Hughes/.Pat Miletich Area. This is esteemed company. But he’s not the GOAT welterweight – at least not yet.

Usman has this in common with a top-notch GSP: He’s running out of new opponents – and fast. Usman won Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, Leon Edwards (although Usman and Edwards were the fighters they are today) and now Burns, to name a few.

I was curious to see if Usman would call someone after his win or just let the division play for itself. And if you didn’t know, he called his old enemy Masvidal.

What a gift for the BMF champion. I felt like I could hear Masvidal partying thousands of miles away in South Florida.

You see, Masvidal isn’t really committed to fighting Covington next. Masvidal doesn’t like him so much that he would rather not pay any attention to him, I was told. Of course, Masvidal would, but it’s not his first choice. He would be happy to fight Usman for the title again, however, and this time with a full camp under his belt, unlike the fight he’d agreed to with a week’s notice in July.

The UFC has been trying to book Masvidal vs. Covington for weeks. The matchmakers even discussed having her as the new coach for “The Ultimate Fighter”. The deal just won’t close. Because of that, Dana White said on Friday he would consider booking Covington vs. Edwards next. There was actually no serious talk of waging this fight; White’s comment was more negotiating than reality, at least for the time being.

You can now bet Masvidal will use this callout to push for the title shot. In fact, just moments after Usman’s comments, Masvidal’s co-manager Malki Kawa came up with the idea that Usman and Masvidal would act as TUF coaches – and then of course fight afterwards.

Usman-Masvidal 2? Edwards-Covington? Not a bad plan B. Will the UFC bite?

I can also see the UFC trying to take advantage of the callout by promising a title shot to the Covington-Masvidal winner. Two for the price of one. I mean, it’s not like Usman will turn around and fight in a few months anyway.

Or the UFC can just let the fight against Masvidal run back. We all wanted to see it for months last year before failed negotiations led to the Usman vs. Burns promotion booking. Then Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and you know how the rest went. The UFC also needs some well-known TUF coaches.

For now, however, Usman should be feeling pretty good. He made history. He is now in conversation with some legends.

And he doesn’t have to worry about someone disrespecting his name in the near future.

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