Kamarudeen "Kamaru" Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a Nigerian-American professional mixed martial artist, former freestyle wrestler and graduated folkstyle wrestler. He currently competes in the welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman was also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. As of September 27, 2021 he is #1 in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings.
May 11, 1987
|Nickname(s)||The Nigerian Nightmare|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)|
|Reach||76 in (193 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.|
|Team||Blackzilians (2011–2017) |
Sanford MMA (2017–2020)
Onx Sports (2020–present)
|Trainer||Jorge Santiago (grappling) |
Trevor Wittman (striking)
|Rank||Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Jorge Santiago|
|Wrestling||NCAA Division II Wrestling|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
As a wrestler, Usman primarily competed at 84 kilograms, and was a 2010 US University World Team Member. Collegiately, he competed at 174 pounds, and was the 2010 NCAA Division II National champion, a three–time NCAA DII All-American and a NAIA National qualifier.
Usman was born in Auchi, Nigeria. His father was a major in the Nigerian Army and his mother was a teacher. He has two brothers, Kashetu and Mohammed, of whom the former is a Doctor of Pharmacy and the latter is a mixed martial artist. Growing up with his mother and two brothers in Benin City, Usman struggled with the conditions in his environment during his childhood. Usman's father Muhammed Nasiru Usman, who became a pharmacist in the United States, brought his family into the country when Usman was eight years old, immigrating to Dallas, Texas.
Usman started wrestling in his sophomore year in high school, at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. Because Usman's wrestling coach at the time had trouble pronouncing his first name Kamarudeen, he got the nickname "Marty" when he joined the team and it stuck with him during his amateur wrestling career. After compiling a 53–3 record in high school wrestling and placing third at the Texas state championships, Usman wrestled alongside Jon Jones at the senior national tournament before leaving for college.
In college, Usman wrestled in Iowa at William Penn University for one year, where he was an NAIA national tournament qualifier in 2007, but was unable to attend the tournament due to a snowstorm; half of his team and his head coach, however, had left early for the tournament without him, which frustrated Usman and influenced him to leave William Penn. He later transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), which had previously tried to recruit him under advisement of then-UNK wrestler Tervel Dlagnev, and subsequently helped the Lopers win their first-ever team title in 2008. Usman placed top 3 in the nation all three years he attended UNK and was a two-time national finalist. He became the NCAA Division II national champion at 174 pounds in 2010, finishing the season with a 44–1 record and 30 straight wins.
Shortly after his folkstyle career was over, Usman turned his attention to freestyle wrestling and became a resident of the United States Olympic Training Center, with hopes of making the 2012 Olympic team. Despite making the US University World Team in 2010, Usman was sidetracked by injuries and eventually abandoned his Olympic goal after failing to qualify for the '12 US Olympic Team Trials, turning his attention to mixed martial arts instead. Former National Football League (NFL) star Christian Okoye, who has the nickname "The Nigerian Nightmare" trademarked, gave his blessing for Usman to use it.
Mixed martial arts career
Professional MMA career
On 2011, Usman served as the wrestling coach for Team Miller in The Ultimate Fighter season fourteen. After failing to qualify for the '12 US Olympic Team Trials in freestyle wrestling, Usman made his professional MMA debut in November 2012. He compiled a record of 5–1, competing for several regional promotions before trying out for The Ultimate Fighter in early 2015.
The Ultimate Fighter
In the finals, Usman faced Hayder Hassan on July 12, 2015, at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale. He won the bout via submission in the second round, thus winning a six-figure contract with the UFC. He was also awarded the Performance of the Night award.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Usman was expected to face two-time Jiu–Jitsu World Champion Sérgio Moraes on May 14, 2016, at UFC 198. However, it was announced on May 1 that Usman had pulled out of the bout for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by promotional newcomer Luan Chagas.
A rescheduled bout with a Sérgio Moraes on a seven-match unbeaten streak eventually took place on September 16, 2017, at UFC Fight Night 116. Usman won the fight via one-punch knockout in the first round.
Usman was scheduled to face Venator FC Welterweight Champion Emil Weber Meek on December 30, 2017, at UFC 219, however, Meek presented VISA problems and the pair was rescheduled for UFC Fight Night 124. Usman won the fight by unanimous decision after out-wrestling his opponent.
Usman was expected to face Santiago Ponzinibbio on May 19, 2018, at UFC Fight Night 129. However, on April 21, Ponzinibbio was pulled from the card due to injury and replaced by ADCC Grappling World Champion and two-time UFC title challenger Demian Maia. After denying all of Maia's fifteen attempts of takedowns and out-performing his opponent on the feet, Usman won the fight via unanimous decision.
Usman faced former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos on November 30, 2018, at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. He won the fight via unanimous decision. This win earned him his second Performance of the Night award.
UFC Welterweight Champion
Riding a nine-fight winning streak in the UFC, Usman next faced UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley on March 2, 2019, in the co-main event at UFC 235. He won the one-sided fight via unanimous decision after dominating his opponent for five rounds to be crowned as the new UFC Welterweight Champion.
Usman made his first title defense and faced long-time rival Colby Covington at UFC 245 on December 14, 2019. Despite both athletes being mostly offensive wrestlers, the fight did not include any grappling and contained high-paced offense in the striking instead. After an often referred to as "slugfest", Usman was able to knockdown his opponent twice before finishing him with strikes in the fifth round to be declared the winner via technical knockout, which set the record for the latest finish in UFC welterweight history. This fight earned both participants the Fight of the Night award.
Usman was scheduled to defend his title for the second time against long-time teammate and two-time No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Gilbert Burns on July 12, 2020 at UFC 251. Both being originally from the same camp – Sanford MMA – Usman opted to train under Trevor Wittman heading into the fight. On July 3, 2020, it was revealed that Burns tested positive for COVID-19, and he was subsequently removed from the card. On July 5, 2020, it was reported that Jorge Masvidal had stepped in on short notice and served as a replacement for Burns. Usman controlled most of the uneventful fight by keeping Masvidal in the clinch, winning via unanimous decision. The card reportedly generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys in the United States, the most since UFC 229 in October 2018.
Usman was once again scheduled to defend his title against BJJ World Champion Gilbert Burns, on December 12, 2020 at UFC 256. However, on October 5, 2020, It was reported that Usman had pulled out from the bout, citing more time needed to recover from undisclosed injuries and the bout was postponed for February 13, 2021, as the headliner for UFC 258. Usman defended his title for the third time, as he won the fight via technical knockout in the third round, surpassing the record of the former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre for the largest win-streak in the division with thirteen. This win earned him the Performance of the Night award.
For his fifth title bout, Usman rematched against Jorge Masvidal for the UFC Welterweight Championship on April 24, 2021 at UFC 261 in Florida. He successfully defended his title after knocking out Masvidal in the second round, becoming the first one to do so in the UFC. This win earned Usman his fourth Performance of the Night bonus award.
Kamaru and his wife have a daughter, Samirah (born 2014). His father, Muhammed Nasiru Usman, who had previous convictions in Tarrant County for theft and drunk driving, was convicted in May 2010 of various offenses, including health care fraud and money laundering, related to a health care fraud scheme. He was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment and ordered to pay $1,300,000 in restitution, and was released from FCI Seagoville on March 16, 2021.
Championships and accomplishments
- National Collegiate Athletic Association
- National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
- University Interscholastic League
Mixed martial arts
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- UFC Welterweight Championship (One time, current)
- Five successful title defenses
- First Nigerian-born UFC champion
- The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner
- Performance of the Night (Four times) vs. Hayder Hassan, Rafael dos Anjos, Gilbert Burns, and Jorge Masvidal
- Fight of the Night (One time) vs. Colby Covington
- Latest finish in UFC Welterweight history vs. Colby Covington
- Latest knockout in UFC title fight history vs. Colby Covington
- Most consecutive wins in welterweight division (15)
- UFC Welterweight Championship (One time, current)
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|21 matches||20 wins||1 loss|
|Win||20–1||Colby Covington||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 268||November 6, 2021||5||5:00||New York City, New York, United States||Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||19–1||Jorge Masvidal||KO (punch)||UFC 261||April 24, 2021||2||1:02||Jacksonville, Florida, United States||Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||18–1||Gilbert Burns||TKO (punches)||UFC 258||February 13, 2021||3||0:34||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||17–1||Jorge Masvidal||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 251||July 12, 2020||5||5:00||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||16–1||Colby Covington||TKO (punches)||UFC 245||December 14, 2019||5||4:10||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the UFC Welterweight Championship. Fight of the Night.|
|Win||15–1||Tyron Woodley||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 235||March 2, 2019||5||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Won the UFC Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||14–1||Rafael dos Anjos||Decision (unanimous)||The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters Finale||November 30, 2018||5||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||13–1||Demian Maia||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Usman||May 19, 2018||5||5:00||Santiago, Chile|
|Win||12–1||Emil Weber Meek||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi||January 14, 2018||3||5:00||St. Louis, Missouri, United States|
|Win||11–1||Sérgio Moraes||KO (punch)||UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch||September 16, 2017||1||2:48||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||10–1||Sean Strickland||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 210||April 8, 2017||3||5:00||Buffalo, New York, United States|
|Win||9–1||Warlley Alves||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. Nogueira 2||November 19, 2016||3||5:00||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Win||8–1||Alexander Yakovlev||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: Holm vs. Shevchenko||July 23, 2016||3||5:00||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Yakovlev was deducted one point in round 1 for grabbing the cage.|
|Win||7–1||Leon Edwards||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: dos Anjos vs. Cowboy 2||December 19, 2015||3||5:00||Orlando, Florida, United States|
|Win||6–1||Hayder Hassan||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians Finale||July 12, 2015||2||1:19||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Won The Ultimate Fighter 21 Welterweight Tournament. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||5–1||Marcus Hicks||TKO (punches)||Legacy FC 33||July 18, 2014||2||5:00||Allen, Texas, United States|
|Win||4–1||Lenny Lovoto||TKO (punches)||Legacy FC 30||April 4, 2014||3||1:04||New Mexico, United States|
|Win||3–1||Steven Rodriguez||TKO (punches)||Legacy FC 27||January 31, 2014||1||1:31||Houston, Texas, United States|
|Win||2–1||Rashid Abdullah||TKO (punches)||VFC 41||December 14, 2013||1||3:49||Ralston, Nebraska, United States||Catchweight (180 lb) bout.|
|Loss||1–1||Jose Caceres||Submission (rear-naked choke)||CFA 11||May 24, 2013||1||3:47||Coral Gables, Florida, United States|
|Win||1–0||David Glover||TKO (punches)||RFA 5||November 30, 2012||2||4:50||Kearney, Nebraska, United States||Welterweight debut.|
|Exhibition record breakdown|
|2 matches||2 wins||0 losses|
|Win||2–0||Steve Carl||Decision (unanimous)||The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians||June 17, 2015 (airdate)||2||5:00||Coconut Creek, Florida, United States||The Ultimate Fighter 21 semifinals round.|
|Win||1–0||Michael Graves||Decision (majority)||April 22, 2015 (airdate)||2||5:00||The Ultimate Fighter 21 quarterfinals round.|
|UFC 251||Usman vs. Masvidal||12 July 2020||Flash Forum||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||1,300,000|
|UFC 261||Usman vs. Masvidal 2||24 April 2021||VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena||Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.||700,000|
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