At a time where most welterweights avoid even mentioning No. 1 contender Demian Maia, up-and-coming prospect Kamaru Usman is chomping at the bit to test his skills against the all-time great grappler.
Usman, a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler and winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” season 21, put on a dominant performance last Saturday against Warlley Alves in front of a hostile crowd in Brazil, and afterwards called out a hometown hero.
Kamaru Usman calls out Demian Maia: "I am the best grappler in the division. Bar none"#UFCSaoPaulo
The call-out was laughed off by many fans and it makes sense considering Usman has yet to beat anyone in the welterweight top 15. Even Maia acknowledged that while Usman’s fourth-straight win was impressive, he should probably crack the top 10 before reaching for No. 1 contenders.
Congrats to Usman for a good performance, you have a promising career ahead. Look forward to see you fight more and become a top #10 @ufc
The fight is unlikely to happen, right now, as the UFC doesn’t make a habit of matching deserved title contenders with unranked prospects.
But if there’s anything we’ve learned in the Conor McGregor era, it’s that a closed mouth don’t get fed. Taking advantage of his time on the mic is likely to grant Usman a fight with a fighter ranked in the top 15, maybe even top 10, next.
It won’t be Maia. But the audacity of his call-out definitely improves his standings amongst the rest of the welterweight prospects.