clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘Greedy’ manager driving wedge between Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya — ‘I don’t think they’re best friends’

A huge payday for UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman puts more money in the pockets of manager Ali Abdelaziz. But at what cost?

Reigning UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has no desire to follow in the footsteps of Georges St-Pierre and move up to middleweight for a potential “champ-champ” fight opposite current 185-pound titleholder Israel Adesanya.

But the “Nigerian Nightmare” won’t rule out a trip to light heavyweight.

“As long as Israel is the champion there, it‘s not really something that interests me,” Usman told reporters after UFC 268. “Unless Dana (White) wants to give us a hundred million dollars. Then me and Israel need to have a serious talk. Like, ‘hey, we want to do 50 apiece or what?’ But right now that doesn‘t really interest me. I meant what I said: two Nigerians with belts is more important to me than one Nigerian with two belts.”

LIVE! Watch UFC 289 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

OCTAGON RETURNS TO THE GREAT WHITE NORTH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Canada for the first time in almost four years when it hosts UFC 289 inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sat., June 10, 2023. In UFC 289’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, women’s Bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, will lock horns with No. 5-ranked 135-pound contender, Irene Aldana, while former Lightweight kingpin and current No. 1-seeded contender, Charles Oliveira, battles No. 4-ranked Beneil Dariush in the co-feature with 155-pound title implications on the line.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

White scoffed at paying then-light heavyweight champion Jon Jones $30 million for a potential super fight with heavyweight kingpin Francis Ngannou, so the idea of tacking on another $20 million for Usman to battle Adesanya sounds absurd.

Especially when Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, thinks it can get booked for less.

“Listen, these guys, they’re cool but I don’t think they’re best friends,” Abdelaziz told TMZ Sports. “If there is enough money for both of them to fight, they will fight in the parking lot. I know how people work. This has nothing to do with loyalty, because these guys, it’s not like they’re training partners or brothers. They’re African brothers and that holds a lot of value ... but at the end of the day, I’m Kamaru Usman’s team all the way. I want to see Kamaru Usman, before the end of the road, have two titles. I’m selfish, I’m greedy, and I think Kamaru deserves it.”

The easiest way to get two fighters to fight for less is to get their egos involved, or break the bond that connects them. Perhaps that’s why Abdelaziz is using interviews to make Adesanya look like the inferior fighter, at least in terms of championship accomplishments.

“Israel did not accomplish what Kamaru accomplished,” Abdelaziz continued. “There’s no way. Not to take anything away from Israel. I think there is enough money for these two guys that (they) would fight. I want to see this fight now. I think fans want it, I want it. I think these two men need to call each other. Mike Tyson told me this: ‘If they’re real brothers, they should fight for them to make money.’”

Usman (20-1) is expected to make his next welterweight title defense against surging division contender Leon Edwards at some point over the next few months. As for Adesanya (21-1), he rematches Robert Whitaker at UFC 271 on March 12 in Houston.

After that? Anything is possible.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania