Does Kamaru Usman have a case for 170lb GOAT?
UFC 268 was one hell of a night of fights.
And though there are a lot of emerging topics that will be covered in the coming days and weeks - I think the obvious place to start is the main-event showdown between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.
I think it’s important straight off the bat to give props to both guys because, based on what I saw, though Usman’s progression in recent times - or since the first Colby fight - has been the thing to grab the headlines - as he continues to round out his game and establish himself as a legitimate finisher at 170lbs.
Colby’s own growth has brought him along to a similar degree.
And I think the competitive nature of this matchup is a testament to just how far ahead of the pack these two guys are.
As Dana White himself said - if Usman wasn’t around, Colby would without question be occupying his position as champion - perhaps even a dominant champion.
And though I scored the bout for Kamaru - I do think there’s a reasonable Colby argument there if that’s what floats your boat.
It was a great fight, it had enough in the way of momentum swings to make Usman’s strong early showing far from the definitive takeaway from the bout as a whole.
Love him or hate him as a person, I love watching Covington fight - the man is a pressure cooker in there - and if you watch this channel a lot, it’s those guys, the Colby’s, the Holloways, the Petr Yan’s, the Nick Diaz’s, those are the fighters whose style I enjoy the most.
And for a while, it kind of did look as though Colby, after an uncertain start, was about to find his way into what would have been a dramatic late fight-back.
But Usman, in my book, did enough - putting a strong stamp on this portion of their rivalry and ensuring that he will face a new challenge next time around.
And that’s what got me thinking.
Kamaru is now five defenses into his reign as welterweight champion.
He’s beaten Colby twice, Gilbert Burns, Jorge Masvidal twice, with a win over Tyron Woodley to earn the title - and victories against Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, and a young Leon Edwards to find himself in this position.
Now, I do personally believe that Usman is pretty far away from overtaking Georges St-Pierre as the greatest welterweight fighter of all-time.
Though GSP has nine defenses, he operated out of a different UFC than Usman - and I think some key points put the length of his dominance into greater perspective - including the five victories it took for him to earn a second shot at UFC gold after losing to Matt Hughes in his first - and the fact that he was forced to beat both Hughes and Josh Koscheck before getting the opportunity to set the record straight with Matt Serra - after he scored perhaps the biggest upset in UFC history.
I think comparing Usman’s five defenses to GSP’s nine is just not the way to look at it.
Kamaru, if he, say scores a trilogy win over Colby down the line, beats Leon Edwards, Vicente Luque, and perhaps Khamzat Chimaev for example - that will put him even with GSP - and to be honest, there’s no way for us to know just how we’ll feel at that point in time.
But four more fights would certainly make things extremely interesting.
I would suggest not getting too bogged down on the exact numbers - I think if Usman can overtake GSP, we’ll know when he has done it.
But what I will say, is that Usman has certainly made himself a very viable argument at being the single greatest example of a welterweight fighter we have ever seen - style for style, physically, technically.
I think with the passage of time, and the evolution of the sport - it’s clear that MMA is now better than ever.
And even GSP himself admitted that while he would favour himself to be able to beat Usman in his prime - he also understands that the fighters of today are the best fighters to ever do it.
So that argument is a bit redundant. If we’re going to compare eras - I think based on the context, based on who each man bet and at what point in their own career - St-Pierre is still quite far ahead of Usman in terms of his success as a champion.
But Usman deserves to be taken very seriously as one of the all-time greats - I think a far more interesting conversation can be had about his position within the overall G.O.A.T conversation - not that it will progress at a faster pace than the welterweight conversation, but it just seems a bit more significant.
So to answer the overall question of the video, I would say that Usman still has a lot of work to do if his goal is, in fact, to conclusively overtake GSP - but with that being said, this guy is undoubtedly the pound for pound greatest fighter on the planet today, and given his long-term status as champion at 170lbs, he’s clearly one of the most talented fighters, pound for pound, in the history of the sport.
Yea, it’s not a concrete answer per sé, but I will tell you what I’d like to see from Kamaru next.
Guys like Leon Edwards, Vicente Luque, even a rematch with Gilbert Burns - these are the opponents that, while certainly tough outings, will allow Kamaru to build and build - before he can eventually take on the next bright young contender to emerge from the 170lb pile.
I think Usman needs to prove himself to the next wave before we start putting him on GSP’s level.
Guys like Khamzat Chimaev, Shavkat Rakhmonov, and Sean Brady - these are the newer breed, guys who will take the lessons they have learned from those they watched being beaten by Usman - before they too rise from the lower and mid tiers at 170lbs to take on the champion they’ve been preparing for for years.
That’s what I’m waiting for - before I begin making comparisons.
And I know that might sound like I’m looking too far ahead, but I think under the circumstances, it may just give you a good sense of just how dominant Georges St-Pierre was between his first shot at UFC gold in 2004 - and his last fight at 170lbs nine years later.
And it might also give an impression of how the amount of work that lies before Usman.
He’s definitely now the number 2 of all-time at 170, but champions like GSP are very, very hard to catch!
But what did you make of this latest victory from Kamaru Usman?
And how much more work do you think he needs to do to take the throne from Georges St-Pierre in the all-time great welterweight conversation?
Do let us know your opinions in the comments section below, we always love to hear from you guys.