Las Vegas, NV — The first thing you notice about the UFC 258 fight week: it’s a lot less volatile that the last couple involving Kamaru Usman.
First, there was Colby Covington, and a war of words (often from the side of Covington, in essence playing the role of a pro wrestling heel) not seen since prime Sonnen, or perhaps McGregor. Then there was UFC 251 and Jorge Masvidal, that came with the commotion of a last minute change in opponents, with Gamebred stepping in for Gilbert Burns — the man Usman will face this weekend at UFC 258.
Usman has noticed the difference as well, he noted during this week’s media day. “Why am I so relaxed? Usually fight week, I’m dialed in every single day,” the welterweight champ observed. “But I felt pretty relaxed.” Usman believes it may be because he’s on his second go-round preparing for Gilbert Burns. He’s also in a good place, trying not to stress over things that don’t really matter.
The oft-touted storyline ahead of Usman vs. Burns has been about former training partners squaring off. “At the end of the day, I don’t see anybody. There’s no friends in there,” Usman stated. Besides which, “we haven’t really trained a lot together in the last couple years.”
Still, Usman left the team at Sandford MMA prior to UFC 258. It’s hard not to see that as, at least in part, a response to Burns’ own rise in the welterweight division. And Usman admits that Burns “is the most dangerous guy right now to date. That’s why he’s fighting me.”
In his last bout, Usman defeated “BMF” (that’s Baddest MF’er) champ Jorge Masvidal. So isn’t “The Nigerian Nightmare” the BMF champ by default?
“Of course I’m the BMF champ, if that’s a thing. I said it before, that was just something that they created just for that event. It’s giving a participation medal for these guys participating in this event,” quipped Usman. “‘Hey, here’s a participation medal.’ That’s not real gold. He’s not going to go down in the history books a UFC champion.”
Usman rather foresees a scene where twenty years down the road, Masvidal’s children will ask him what a BMF champ was. “‘Who else won it? Who did you win it from?’, they’ll ask, only to hear ‘I don’t know, they just handed me a ribbon and said that I was a BMF champion.'” That’s how Usman sees it, and as he put it after, “you can’t still be the BMF after being dominated for five rounds.”
Watch the full UFC 258 media day press scrum with Kamaru Usman above. The event takes place this Saturday, February 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.