Kamaru Usman has addressed Leon Edwards’ claim that he felt left behind during his time at the AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) gym.
Edwards recently harked back to his training camp for his first fight against Usman in 2015. The UK fighter had joined AKA in San Jose, California, to prepare for his 2015 matchup against Usman. At the gym, Edwards trained alongside the likes of Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez, Luke Rockhold, Khabib Nurmagomedov and other top-tier fighters.
Regardless, Edwards ended up losing to Usman via unanimous decision. He later revealed that owing to the presence of too many superstars and prominent MMA personalities at AKA, he felt as though he didn’t receive adequate individual attention.
“When I fought Kamaru, at the time I didn’t have a clue how to wrestle. Back in the day, it was a thing where you had to go to America to improve yourself and get better. The camper and the best, the coaches are like, ‘Not your gym. You’re like second to their fighters.’ I didn’t feel like I was learning much. That led me to go back home,” he said.
‘Rocky’ emphasized that in recent years, his team has been tailored around himself, which has benefited him more than training at a high-profile gym with too many superstars.
In an appearance on Daniel Cormier’s YouTube channel, Usman addressed Edwards’ opinion about his AKA experience. The current welterweight champ revisited his own humble beginnings as a member of the ‘Blackzilians’ gym in Florida.
Usman highlighted that he trained there with highly-accomplished combat sportspersons such as Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, Vitor Belfort, Jorge Santiago, ‘JZ’ Cavalcante, Alistair Overeem, Tyrone Spong, Cosmo Alexandre, etc. He claimed that being unable to level up and thrive among superstars was a mental block on Edwards’ part. Usman stated:
“It’s also a crutch. You use it as a crutch, use it as an excuse that I wasn’t able to thrive because it was so many big personalities [that] I felt like I got pushed outside. I’ll tell you. I’m in a room with those names that I just named.”“How am I supposed to get the time on the mitts, on the pad? I wasn’t. But you know what? I watched the drill, went to the bag, and I drilled it, and I still became champion. So, that tells who you are. If you’re making these excuses now, that’s just you.”