Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will finally give Kamaru Usman a headlining spot when “The Nigerian Nightmare” takes center stage against Demian Maia at the UFC Fight Night 129 mixed martial arts (MMA) event tomorrow night (May 19, 2018) inside Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile.
What percentage of him actually shows up, remains to be seen.
The winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 got blasted by promotion president Dana White in the wake of his Emil Meek win earlier this year in St. Louis. That’s because Usman (12-1) told fans he entered the fight at just 30 percent.
“Yeah, he’s a tough guy. Yeah, he can impose his will. But you don’t jump up and start acting like you knocked somebody out and say you only went 30 percent,” White said. “So what’s that mean? What if you’re on pay-per-view? Do you use 60 percent?”
Usman later clarified his statement, insisting that it was his health — not his effort — that was suffering on fight night. Back in 2012, then-UFC light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones told me he too, was operating at just 30 percent, but nobody questioned him because he just beat four straight former UFC 205-pound champions.
All Usman did was carry around a big shovel.
The UFC Chile main event will be good for Usman, as well as MMA fans, but part of me wonders if it was done just to shut him up. After complaining that UFC doesn’t like to promote Nigerians, he went on to slam the promotion for its special treatment of Darren Till.
He was probably just trying to pick a fight, since no one in the welterweight division — including this trash talker — is in any big hurry to face him. And while Maia is one of the best grapplers in all of UFC, he’s long past his expiration date and struggles against high-level wrestlers.
That’s probably why 30 percent of Usman is better than 100 percent of Maia, who struggles to make 170 pounds and may need to go all five rounds. The Brazilian outranks him (No. 5 vs. No. 7) but they might swap places after this weekend’s debut in Chile.
To see who else is competing on the FOX Sports 1 fight card click here.