Kamaru Usman would entertain move up to middleweight – if Israel Adesanya isn’t champion

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Farah Hannoun
·2 min read
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UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman won’t rule out a future move to middleweight, but he revealed he’d only make the leap up to 185 pounds if his friend Israel Adesanya is no longer champion.

Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) has cleared out the majority of the 170-pound division and recently added Gilbert Burns to his list of victims in a 17-fight winning streak that has seen him defeat all of the UFC’s top four-ranked contenders. Usman’s third-round finish of Burns at UFC 258 was his third successful title defense.

As things stand, Usman’s fighting future at 170 pounds looks set to feature plenty of rematches, with the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, and Leon Edwards all on Usman’s radar, and there aren’t too many fresh challenges left for “The Nigerian Nightmare.”

So the thought of moving up to middleweight has crossed Usman’s mind, but as long as Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) holds that crown, he’s not interested.

“Absolutely, absolutely. If Izzy’s willing to move up – well he is moving up, but if he’s willing to give up that 185 belt and says ‘I have nothing to do with that anymore,’ then absolutely I would entertain that thought,” Usman told ESPN.”

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With Usman unbeaten in the UFC and the undefeated Adesanya going for a second title by challenging UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, a superfight between the pair would definitely be intriguing. But Usman has made clear on numerous occasions that he has no intention of facing good friend and fellow African-born champion Adesanya.

“On no account right now would I ever entertain going up to fight Izzy,” Usman added. “That’s just not something that I’m interested in. I’ve stated over and over before, I’d rather two Africans with belts as opposed to one African with two belts. After March, it’s gonna be three Africans with four belts. It’s a good time to be an African.”