Rising UFC welterweight contender Kamaru Usman will try to extend his promotion win streak to seven tomorrow night (Sun., Jan. 14, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 124 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, when he takes on Norwegian prospect Emil Meek.
While defeating an up-and-coming talent like Meek could land “Nigerian Nightmare” on the doorstep of title contention in 2018, “Valhalla” wasn’t Usman’s first choice. In fact, the former Ultimate Fighter winner was expecting to draw welterweight bad guy Colby Covington in the main event at UFC Fight Night 124, but that matchup never came to fruition.
“A lot of people don’t know, but we were supposed to be the main event for this card, which is why it took so long to get a main event scheduled,” Usman said during a recent interview with MMAjunkie. “But, once again, he declined the fight, and so, here we are. He can run, but you can’t hide forever.”
Covington, who is coming off an impressive decision win over Brazilian legend Demian Maia, has been in hot pursuit of current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, so in his mind he has bigger fish to fry than Usman. Still, Usman insists that the bout needs to happen at one point or another.
“It’s a fight that has to happen,” Usman said. “It’s a fight that has to happen because I believe this is fate. This fight has been written. How much of a small world do we live in? I was a little boy born in Auchi, Nigera, in a country full of over 200 million people, in a small farm town. To get to the point where I immigrate here, I’m in America, to where I get to college and I cross paths with the people that I have.
”Let’s just summarize this a little bit: Me and Jon Jones crossed paths senior year of high school. We met at senior nationals, a big wrestling tournament, and after that, we became friends. ‘Hey, I’m going to go to school in Iowa next year.’ He said, ‘I’m going to go to school in Iowa [too].’ That’s great. We stayed in touch. My fall break, I went up to his school, spent time with him all fall break. We hung out all week. I stayed in his place, his dorm, their apartment there, which happened to be the room that Colby Covington stayed in the following year when he moved to school there.
”How small of a world that is, to where, take things further, we both live in South Florida, literally 20, 30 miles away from each other. We train at rival gyms. We have mutual friends, and I mean mutual friends that we see daily, we talk to daily. So this is something that’s set in stone that’s been written.”
As impressive as Covington has been over his last few fights, Usman has been just as good. Covington has obviously faced better competition like Maia and Dong Hyun Kim, but “Nigerian Nightmare” has knocked off talented youngsters and proven veterans en route to a 6-0 UFC record. Not to mention the fact that Usman defeated the only fighter to beat Covington (Warlley Alves).
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 124 fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.