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Kamaru Usman sifts through UFC 294 loss to Khamzat Chimaev: ‘I need to trust myself more’

Defeat was long uncharted territory for Kamaru Usman, but now he sits on a three-fight losing skid after UFC 294.

Usman (20-4 MMA, 15-3 UFC) lost a majority decision to Khamzat Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC)on Saturday at Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. He took the fight on 10 days’ notice. If he had a full camp, Usman thinks things would’ve been different. Preparation circumstance aside, he also acknowledges there are some things he did wrong regardless.

“You drop two razor-thin ones to Leon (Edwards) and it’s been a while,” Usman said on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “You go years without losing, for a long, long time, by all the hard work. Then, you drop two close ones like that. You start to kind of question things and start to doubt yourself a little bit. You almost forget what it feels like. If anything I can say I’d take away from tonight, it’s that I need to trust myself more, trust my coaches, and we’ll be back.

“I think coming off the couch in 10 days and fighting a young, hungry bull like that, who’s big and strong and had a year-and-a-half to really grow into this weight class – and I didn’t. I didn’t trust my shape. I’m a championship fighter, and you can’t start slow like that. I say give me a couple extra rounds, I think the world knows what that result might be.”

The fight at UFC 294 was Usman’s debut at middleweight in the promotion. While the future remains unclear, UFC president Dana White told MMA Junkie and other reporters after the event he’s open to Usman competing in either weight class – whichever Usman prefers.

“That’s up to him,” White said at a post-fight news conference. “That guy has done at all. When you look at his career, look at what he’s done, he’s the greatest welterweight of all time. He doesn’t get enough credit, stepped up, took this fight at 185. Whatever he wants to do, I’m good with.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie