Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Usman: If Khabib & Jones Are Out Indefinitely, I Deserve To Be #1 P4P

Kamaru Usman moved up in last week’s UFC rankings, but he still feels he is not receiving the appropriate amount of respect given his track record in the promotion.

Heading into UFC 258, Kamaru Usman was ranked #5 on the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings behind Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, Israel Adesanya, and Stipe Miocic. After he finished Gilbert Burns to retain the welterweight title, Usman demanded that some respect be put on his name. One of the groups that Usman was referring to was the UFC rankings panel, who he felt was undervaluing his résumé with the #5 placement. 

When the rankings came out following the event, Usman was bumped up to #4 where he remains following today’s update. Usman believes this is still not commensurate with his body of work and that there are only two names that, when active, he would concede the top ranking to. 

“More and more in my mind, I’m starting to feel like I’m #1,” Usman said in an ESPN interview following UFC 258. “But it’s still very, very new because Khabib fought not too long ago. And of course, I’m giving it to Khabib. But if Khabib is retired and he’s walking away from the sport, I put myself up there, especially with the absence of Jon right now. I put myself up there. But if those guys are still in the picture and active, it’s very, very tough to deny what those guys have done.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been retired since last October with no clear signs of him having a fight booked anytime soon despite fluctuating reports on just how retired he really is. As for Jon Jones, he has not competed since last February in a highly competitive decision victory over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. Jones is hoping to return to competition later this year in the heavyweight division, but to Usman’s point, this has not been confirmed yet as Jones and the UFC have still not come to terms on the numbers. 

Usman Continues To Question Rankings Criteria

Even if Khabib and Jones are being treated as fully active, Usman would be placed no lower than #3 if the rankings were to his liking. And the fact that he is only #4 leads him to continue wondering what exactly the rankings are based on.

“What I want to know: what makes that pound for pound? Is it a popularity contest?” Usman asked. “Are they saying, ‘Oh, these guys are popular, so that’s why they’re #1 pound for pound?’ That’s why they’re so high up? Is that what we’re going by? If that’s what we’re going by, then I need to know that. If it’s not what we’re going by, how could you say I don’t belong up there? 

UFC 258: Kamaru Usman nearing St-Pierre level of dominance
Kamaru Usman Turning In Another Stellar Performance At UFC 258. Credit: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

“Because I’ve lost maybe I think they said on the judges’ scorecards, I lost three rounds total in my UFC career. Three rounds in 13 fights. Dominated every one of my fights. And I think in over 70% of those fights I had at least one 10-8 round. I’ve had 10-7 rounds in those fights. Never been taken down, never been knocked down, and you’re saying I don’t deserve to be higher up on that list? 

“That’s why I am saying there needs to be some respect put on it,” Usman continued. “Or if it’s a popularity contest, let me know. Then I understand what it is: ‘OK, yeah, popularity contest.’” 

Kamaru Usman is currently 13-0 in the UFC, which ties Khabib’s record in the promotion. Usman also holds the record for most consecutive wins in the welterweight division, a record he broke at UFC 258 with his win over Gilbert Burns. If Israel Adesanya and Stipe Miocic both win their big fights coming up next month, it may be more likely that Usman will drop in the rankings by the end of March instead of being moved up to where he feels he belongs.

Do you agree with Kamaru Usman? Should he be ranked no lower than #3 on the P4P rankings?