Kamaru Usman appears to be picking up right where Tyron Woodley left off, now that “The Nigerian Nightmare” has usurped the 170-pound title from “The Chosen One,” already taking time off and putting the rest of the division on hold.
Vague timelines, mysterious injuries, contract issues ... Usman checking off all the boxes.
That means his planned title defense against Colby Covington will have to wait until the end of the year. Usman, 32, recently had surgery for a double hernia and is also rehabbing an injured knee, further aggravated in his Woodley title win.
“First of all, the most important thing is my health,” Usman told MMA Fighting. “I had a pretty significant surgery after my last fight so I want to get back to the point where I can be in the gym and start training. Then I can become the active and dominant champ that I want to be. We’re talking some contracts that need to be worked out, we’re talking about logistics of where the fight can take place, and the most important is my injury. By the end of the year, I should be fighting again, for sure.”
Woodley only competed once in 2018 following a layoff that lasted nearly 14 months. Usman, meanwhile racked up four wins during his absence, then a fifth when they went to war in the UFC 235 co-main event last March in Las Vegas.
If “Marty from Nebraska” is gone for the next four-to-five months, then we may already know who gets the winner of Usman vs. Covington, as top contenders Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren are expected to collide at UFC 239 this summer.
See the rest of the welterweight Top 10 here.