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Kamaru Usman still feels he’s No. 1 pound-for-pound: ‘The world knows who the best welterweight is’

MMA: AUG 20 UFC 278 Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kamaru Usman feels like the only thing that’s changed post-Leon Edwards loss is having a belt around his waist.

UFC 278 in Aug. 2022 marked only the second professional loss of Usman’s impressive career up to this point. Suffering a late come-from-behind defeat to Edwards via fifth round head kick knockout (watch highlights), Usman saw his championship reign evaporate before his eyes.

The fight was one-way traffic outside of round one in favor of Usman and because of that, the now-former champion feels it’s no secret who the better fighter is despite the outcome.

“I’ve lost before,” Usman told TMZ Sports. “I wrestled in high school and I lost a lot until I started winning then I went to college wrestling and I lost until I didn’t then I started fighting and I lost and started winning. So, it’s one thing, I know how to go to work and come back.

“I dealt with it how I’m supposed to deal with it,” he continued. “I’m still a champion in my head. That’s the thing too is, come on, guys, who’re we kidding? The world knows who the best Welterweight in the world is. Leon and I know who the best Welterweight in the world is. He knows [I’m better than him].”

Usman and Edwards are all tied up with a win-a-piece in their series. Their trilogy bout is expected to come sometime in early 2023, providing the champion, Edwards, with home-field advantage in a big arena somewhere in the United Kingdom.

Before tasting defeat at the shin of Edwards, Usman was being touted as one of the greatest fighters of all time, right up there at 170 pounds next to Georges St-Pierre. Usman’s five title defenses and 19-fight win streak spoke for themselves.

“Everyone really puts their identity wrapped around being a champion,” Usman said. “That’s one thing when I wanted to become a champion, I was working to be a champion. That’s one thing I always mentally kind of told myself that I never wanted to do is ... it’s not about the belt for me. It’s the work that I put in each and every day to get there is what makes me a champion on the inside and I know that I’m the best Welterweight in the world, I know that.

“To be honest with you, I think I’m the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” he added. “It’s kind of hard to argue with what Islam [Makhachev] just did, but I know I’m the best welterweight in the world. So, I don’t feel just cause I don’t have the belt right now, it’s nothing. Even when I was trying to fight these guys for that title and these guys were telling me, ‘No, we don’t want to fight you, you don’t deserve it.’ I knew I was the best. Just like sitting right here, I know I’m the best.”

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