UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman already has his eyes on the next target after his sixth title defence at UFC 278, and says he deserves to be respected after his heroics.
He is set to defend his title against Leon Edwards this weekend, who Usman claims he respects.
However, in an interview with ESPN, Usman opened up on his constant motivation, which is to be the greatest of all time. That means moving up to light heavyweight; 35 pounds above the welterweight limit of 170 and capturing gold there, too.
“A lot of times nowadays, everyone’s throwing around this, ‘G.O.A.T., greatest of all time…’ That’s relative,” the No.1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter said.
“For me, what I want, and this is kind of why I got into the sport. I’m just a competitive guy. I got into sports and I just realised it was something burning inside me that I wanted to compete and compete. I wanted to best that guy. This is the ultimate, mano-a-mano, the sport to do it.
“With that being said; with respect to that, I want to be respected. So, when I get in there and I bested everyone, I want you to show me that respect. So, if I bested everyone in my division then I said I will skip one and I just want to prove to you — everyone says pound-for-pound, but that’s just kind of a scenario. You just throw that out, ‘If they were the same weight class, could this guy best that guy?’ And I want to prove that. I want to be able to do that. No one’s ever done it. If I can do that, hey, you put whatever title you want to put on it but ultimately I want the respect.”
The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ also complimented Edwards, and revealed how he would be approaching this weekend’s main event.
“There’s just something about Leon. I respect him so much, he’s a great competitor, tough guy. He’s grinding through it. I’ve said it before, when I’m inside that octagon, I’m the judge, jury, and I will be the executioner.
“When he said some things, boom. It stuck with me and it’s there to where I replay the whole first fight. Replay his attitude, his mood, his demeanour, and hey, he gave me a little shove in that first fight. I’m still not over it. And I don’t feel like I got enough in that first fight. There’s tons of motivation in this fight to go out there and do what I do.”
The last time the two faced was nearly seven years ago, when Usman won by unanimous decision and handed Edwards his last loss. Usman is still undefeated in the UFC (15-0).