Kamaru Usman explains why he always adopts the mindset of a 'challenger'

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has explained why he sees himself as the challenger when he competes.

Throughout the course of the last few years there has been one man standing head and shoulders above the rest at 170 pounds – and his name is Kamaru Usman. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is quite easily one of the most dominant fighters in all of mixed martial arts and after successfully defending his title five times, you could make the argument that he’s beginning to contend for ‘welterweight GOAT’ status alongside Georges St-Pierre.

Of course, he still has some work to do in order to get there, but the 35-year-old is certainly on the right path.

It takes a great deal of courage to get into the Octagon regardless of whether or not you hold the gold but at his level, it’s particularly daunting to know the world is watching to see if you can match the incredibly high standards you’ve set for yourself.

In a recent interview, Usman explained how he deals with that pressure.

“I’m going to be honest, when those older fighters say that, I understand what they say when they say that, I completely understand what they are saying. When you get there, you would think, oh you are now a champion everything else is smoother. No, that’s not the case at all,” Usman said.

“The pressure continues to build because with each and every fight there is more and more riding on it. For me, it’s just a matter of I don’t think of myself as, hey I’m the champ and I’m going out there to defend the belt. For me, I’m a challenger each and every time I step in there. 

“You think about it, who’s the challenger? The number one challenger is usually the hungriest guy in the world because they have never tasted this, they want this. I’m in the same mindset each and every time when I prepare for these fights. When I get in there, there is nothing these guys can do that I haven’t seen or that I’m not ready for.”

What’s next for the king?

While he may be calling out Canelo Alvarez at every available opportunity, Kamaru Usman has a few more things left to sort out in the welterweight division.

He’s expected to defend the strap against Leon Edwards later this year with the Brit finally getting his long-awaited shot at the gold. After that, there’s every chance he could face the next big thing as Khamzat Chimaev continues to climb up through the ranks.

For the time being, though, this is still his kingdom.

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