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Kamaru Usman vs Marvin Vettori? ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ eyes second UFC belt with ‘Stylebender’ upset

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Reigning UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, fresh off his drubbing of Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261, has a lot of options for his next title defense. Some of the names at the top of his list include Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque, who are tied at No. 6 in the official rankings (see the Top 15 here).

The most likely scenario is that Usman, 33, will battle Leon Edwards if “Rocky” is able to get past well-traveled veteran Nate Diaz. That said, “The Nigerian Nightmare” would also consider a jump to middleweight if Marvin Vettori is able to upset Israel Adesanya at the UFC 263 pay-per-view (PPV) on June 12 in Glendale.

“If Leon looks spectacular, it makes sense. If Nate looks spectacular, that could make sense as well,” Usman told ESPN (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “With the whole Marvin and Israel situation, I don’t necessarily want to think about that. I’m 100 percent behind Izzy and I think he can pull it out. I love Marvin as well but I think Izzy can pull that one out. He’s done it before and I think he can and I think he will. But if there was a case to where I would actually go up and challenge for that belt it would be without Izzy being in the picture. So if Izzy’s not champ, then it’s something I could take a look at.”

UFC President Dana White was looking to give No. 1 contender Colby Covington another crack at the 170-pound crown, a rematch that has little-to-no appeal for the current champ. Probably because “Chaos” has not competed since they first went to war in late 2019, while the 19-1 Usman rattled off three straight title defenses.

“I want all the smoke,” Usman continued. “At the end of the day, it’s what have you done to earn this? Your claim to fame can’t be, ‘Oh, I went five rounds and then the guy broke my jaw and finished me.’ That can’t be your claim to fame. Masvidal went five rounds with me too. Tyron Woodley went five rounds with me. You can’t sit around and fight three fights in three years and expect to get a title shot when I just fought three times in nine months. The champion can’t be the most active guy in the division.”

Edwards and Diaz collide on the Adesanya-Vettori main card on June 12.