In a recent interview with ESPN MMA ahead of his rematch against Leon Edwards, interviewer Brett Okamoto put Usman on the spot as he asked who the current champion thinks are the greatest fighters of all time in his sport.
Before revealing his answer, the current #1 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings made sure to clarify that such lists and UFC Mount Rushmore’s are based on personal preferences, claiming that “different guys have different preferences.”
No matter what personal preferences you have, however, it is pretty hard to disagree with Usman’s shortlist of MMA GOATs.
The biggest surprise in this list is arguably the former two-time UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz being chosen over the likes of Demetrious Johnson, Amanda Nunes, and of course the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov. Or even a certain Conor McGregor.
While Usman’s personal MMA GOATs do not have perfect records like Khabib, the 35-year-old explained that it was the skill, technique and what these fighters brought to the sport that has earned them their right as MMA GOATs, in his opinion.
In the interview, Usman also goes on to reveal some of the greatest non-MMA athletes to have inspired him in his career, praising basketball legends Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as great inspirations through their extremely competitive mindsets.
However, when interviewer Okamoto put to Usman the question of whether being the GOAT of his sport, like Michael Jordan, was a goal for himself, the Nigerian-American fighter dismissed such a motivation.
Usman claimed that he has never sought the idea of being the GOAT and the fame or fortune attached as his main motivation, but rather that the “internal victory inside” after defeating his competitor is his primary motivation.
The current UFC welterweight champion will be hoping to experience another victory when he faces Leon Edwards for the second time at UFC 278 this weekend, and to nudge himself closer to having a place on the UFC Mount Rushmore himself.