SALT LAKE CITY – Kamaru Usman may wear silk shirts and be dipping his toe into the world of acting with an appearance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” but he said nothing has changed in regard to his focus of keeping the UFC title.
Ahead of his welterweight title defense Saturday at UFC 278, Usman’s (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) opponent Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) accused him of allowing fame and fortune to get to his head, leaving him vulnerable to be dethroned in the pay-per-view headliner at Vivint Arena, which airs on ESPN/ABC and ESPN+.
Usman rejects that insinuation, and said while he enjoys the perks he’s worked so hard to attain through fighting inside the octagon, he has not compromised himself in a negative way. Instead, he is striving for bigger and better, and said he eventually wants “the bankroll” of the highest-grossing actor on the planet in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“I was in a movie and everyone says, ‘He Hollywood now,'” Usman told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at UFC 278 media day. “When I was in college eating $5 Little Caesars pizza and I was surviving off of that for two days, and eating ramen noodles for a whole week, you know what I did? I dreamt of getting to a point where I didn’t have to do that. To where I could walk into any steakhouse wherever I wanted and tell my mom and dad, ‘You guys want to go there? I got you. Let’s go there. You want to fly private? I got you.’ I always dreamt of that and always wanted that. So I put the work in to get to that point. To get to the point where I wanted silk shirts. … I always wanted that.
“I put the work in and I got that. But that doesn’t stop me. I want to be bigger than Dwayne Johnson. I’m not bigger than him, so that means I need more work. So this notion of people who say, ‘You’re Hollywood now. It’s going to his head.’ If he’s thinking that, it’s the biggest misconception – it’ll be a short night for him come Saturday night.”
Usman faces a familiar foe in Edwards at UFC 278. He already defeated the Brit once, working his way to a unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 17 in December 2015. A lot has changed in the years since then, but Usman said one thing will remain the same: He’s leaving the octagon with his hand raised.
“He knows what’s going to happen, and I know what’s going to happen,” Usman said. “He’s the next guy up, so he’s the biggest, baddest dude. According to everybody, he’s the biggest, baddest dude. And I think skill-wise he’s very, very good.”
UFC 278 represents a monumental moment for Usman. After recording 15 consecutive wins to begin his UFC tenure, he’ll attempt to tie Anderson Silva’s record for the longest winning streak in the history of the company.
Usman said it’s not a record he’s been striving for, but now that he’s here, he appreciates the moment.
“It’s a special accomplishment,” Usman said. “It is special. It’s one of those things that just lets you know all the work that you’ve put in over the years. All the training, all the guidance from coaches and my team to get to the point where – Anderson Silva was doing this sport before I got into the sport. I remember when I started watching UFC that was the man. That was the guy to watch. Now being in the position to tie that record, it means a lot to me.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278.