With UFC 268 going head to head with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Caleb Plant on Saturday night, it was inevitable that the super middleweight multi-belt boxing champion would come up in the conversation leading up to and after the UFC’s massive Saturday card at Madison Square Garden. But UFC president Dana White wants to make it clear: he has no interest whatsoever in sending his welterweight champion Kamaru Usman into the boxing ring to ‘challenge’ Canelo.
“I watched the Canelo fight tonight,” White said during the UFC 268 post-fight press conference. “You don’t want to fight Canelo. You don’t want to fight Canelo. Come on, man, let’s stop this s—t. If Canelo wants to come over here, let’s do it. He don’t want to box Canelo.”
But with Usman spending his 2021 rematching past contenders (watch the highlights from his second fight with Colby Covington here), there certainly doesn’t seem to be much left.
“There’s still guys here,” White insisted. You’ve got some guys out there saying that Khamzat Chimaev, that he’s ready for it. He’s had four fights in the UFC. I get it, he’s one of the coolest baddest guys, he rips through people. But when you break into that top 10, top 5, not even talking about Usman. It’s a whole different game. He’s a couple fights away.”
“And [Leon Edwards], he’s being waiting for a title shot for a long time. He’s been in there, fought the fights we told him to, he’s had a lot of bad luck. Things happen. But there’s always somebody.”
Of course, Usman wasn’t too happy to hear his boss shutting down a potential big money fight (or at least not even playing the media game and giving him a little promotional hype off the idea).
“Uh, Dana doesn’t know that,” Usman said when told he doesn’t want that fight. “Like I said, I want something that scares me. If I’m going to leave my daughter for another 12 weeks or more, it’s gotta be something that really, really gets me up. And I like that. I want challenge myself.”
"I want to do something that scares me..."— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) November 7, 2021
"Pound-for-pound in MMA vs Pound-for-pound in Boxing? That scares the **** out of me."
After defending his title yet again at #UFC268...
Kamaru Usman wants to get in the ring with Canelo pic.twitter.com/ZVXmDJqH61
“I know a lot of people are going to talk down and say a lot of bulls—t. ‘Oh yeah, you don’t want this, you don’t want that.’ Yeah, don’t get me wrong, [Canelo] is a master at what he does. I love it and I respect it. I want to challenge myself in that way. The last time I was an underdog, we saw what happened. I get it, but we’re the ones who will take that risk. We’re the ones who are willing to go over there and take that risk. They won’t dare come over here and take that risk.”
And why would Canelo, who made $40 million dollars on the front end alone to fight Caleb Plant Saturday night. Even with the big numbers UFC 268 pulled by Dana White’s own admission, there’s no way Usman walks away from his win over Colby Covington with more than $5 million. Many have their doubts he’ll even make half that.
The UFC may have to do something slightly special if they want to keep “The Nigerian Nightmare” in the regular rotation. Usman made it clear that he was shifting his focus from title defense to family first.
“I need some time with my daughter,” Usman said. “She passed out tonight, so I don’t know ... These are special to me. I need to make it memorable for her. I’ve been gone for almost 10 weeks, but I need to give her some time. I can’t even think about fighting right now.”
“My daughter’s 7 years old, she don’t give a s—t if daddy has $20 million stacked up. When she’s 18, she’s going to say ‘Where were you?’”
For complete UFC 268 results and coverage click here.