Morning Report: Kamaru Usman says Khamzat Chimaev fight ‘naturally was what was supposed to happen’

UFC 286: Edwards v Usman 3
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC 294 fight week has arrived.

In one of the crazier late event shake-ups in recent memory, the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi has seen the two headliner bouts require fill-ins. The main event went from a big lightweight title fight rematch between the champion Islam Makhachev and former champion Charles Oliveira to a champion vs. champion rematch. Oliveira suffered a bad cut over his eye, resulting in Makhachev’s last opponent, the featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski, coming in to again attempt to become a two-weight champion. “The Great” came up short in a thrilling unanimous decision defeat this past February.

As for the co-main event, undefeated superstar Khamzat Chimaev lost his original opponent Paulo Costa to a nasty staph infection on his elbow. Therefore, leading to a shocking replacement in the form of the former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. The bout will be Usman’s first since losing his title and suffering back-to-back losses to Leon Edwards.

“The crazy thing is, I hate being put in this position because this was supposed to be the fight,” Usman told TMZ. “He’s a great, very, very good prospect, contender. He was in my weight class so that fight naturally was what was supposed to happen and I said, ‘Alright, let’s do it. I’ve been ready for it, let’s do it.’ But, of course, some things from his side about not being able to make the weight and also from the UFC side, they have their plans and so the fight didn’t come together.”

The 36-year-old Usman’s future has been in question since his second Edwards defeat in March. Seemingly in a limbo period for as long as “Rocky” holds gold at 170 pounds, this short-notice opportunity won’t be new for Usman who mentioned his first fight with Jorge Masvidal amid the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020. “The Nigerian Nightmare” successfully defended his title in the contest, earning a dominant unanimous decision victory.

Despite the change in weight class, Usman will provide the 12-0 Chimaev with his stiffest test yet.

“He’s definitely very talented,” Usman said. “That’s why there’s a lot of excitement about him. We’ve seen these guys come in and a lot of different guys and you just see something special about him. We all know it. I know it, he knows it, everyone knows it.

“He’s very skilled. He’s strong, he’s big. He’s fast, he can wrestle, he can grapple, he can strike. He has everything but so do I. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. Everybody feels invincible until someone comes in and pokes that balloon.”

Adding both fighters to 185 pounds is a nice boost to the landscape. With several options for new champion Sean Strickland to be challenged by, UFC President Dana White has already said the winner of Usman vs. Chimaev will get the title shot.

While Usman doesn’t plan to leave welterweight permanently, he doesn’t see how anything else could happen next if he hands “Borz” his first loss. It also helps that Usman has a unanimous decision win over Strickland in April 2017.

“I mean, it’s a no-brainer,” Usman said. “Sean Strickland is the champion. I’ve already taken care of him. Not to say he’s not better, he is. But I’ve got a mountain in front of me that I have to scale and climb. We’ll get through that first and then we’ll worry about what’s next but it’s a no-brainer.”


Family. Matt Hughes’ son, Brandon Mills, loses unanimous decision in pro debut at Caged Aggression 36

Extra. UFC Vegas 81 post-fight bonuses: Edson Barboza vs. Sodiq Yusuff captures ‘Fight of the Night’

Momentum. UFC Vegas 81 results: Edson Barboza survives early scare to win gritty battle with Sodiq Yusuff

Dream. Bo Nickaldisappointed’ to not get asked to fight Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294, guesses UFC protecting ‘their boy’

Redemption. Alexander Volkanovski on short-notice rematch vs. Islam Makhachev: ‘I want to go out there and hurt him’

Grudge. UFC HOFer Pat Miletich quits on stool, Mike Jackson wins TKO at Caged Aggression 36

Onward. Angela Lee details decision to retire from MMA: ‘I just knew that my heart wasn’t in it


UFC Vegas 81 Post-Fight Show.

UFC 294 Countdown.

Four fights that changed the game.

Free fight.

Best of Bellator USA.

Full fight.

Powerhouse Playback: Ruiz vs. Morandin.

Prelude to UFC 294.

The War Room: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2.

An Ngannou…music video?

Holloway in Japan.

Opponent melter.



Not for long.

Good news.




Damn, boys.

Good old Hendo.



Add one more to the reel.

Can confirm.


Up, up, up.


Never ever.

Because of course.






Lady Samurai.


Malcolm Gordon (14-7) vs. Jimmy Flick (16-7); UFC 297, Jan. 20


I really wish Usman vs. Chimaev was five rounds. Still can’t believe it’s even happening, so I’ll take what we can get. Hard not to lean toward Chimaev with all things considered but Usman definitely shouldn’t be written off in his career just yet.

Thanks for reading!


Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 80% of 564 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Should the Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones 2 result be re-overturned?

Thursday: 84% of 444 total votes answered “Islam Makhchev” when asked, “Who will be under more pressure at UFC 294?

Wednesday: 61% of 564 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Does Alexander Volkanovski have a better chance of beating Islam Makhachev on short notice?

Tuesday: 72% of 323 total votes answered “Edson Barboza” when asked, “Who wins this week?” Barboza defeated Sodiq Yusuff via unanimous decision in the UFC Vegas 81 main event.

Today’s exit poll:

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Author: Staff

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