When reigning UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman first teased a jump to light heavyweight — leapfrogging 185 pounds to avoid a showdown against his close friend Israel Adesanya — most MMA fans chuckled and brushed it aside, thinking “The Nigerian Nightmare” was far too small to mix it up with someone the size of Jan Blachowicz.
Usman and Blachowicz came face-to-face during the UFC 276: “Adesanya vs. Cannonier” pay-per-view (PPV) event last weekend in Las Vegas, part of the promotion’s International Fight Week that featured a who’s-who of MMA fighters on location in “Sin City” to make sponsorship appearances and participate in a host of fan-friendly MMA events.
“So, you say people call you ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ ... a monster,” Blachowicz wrote on social media. “Good. I hunt monsters. Makes no difference how scary they are.”
Usman first made the challenge when Blachowicz was light heavyweight champion; however, the Polish slugger was subsequently dethroned by Glover Teixeira, who went on to lose the title to Czech bruiser Jiri Prochazka. A recent victory over Aleksandar Rakic was likely enough to give Blachowicz the next 205-pound title shot.
As for Usman, he’s got some work to do of his own. “The Nigerian Nightmare” is scheduled to headline the UFC 278 fight card next month in Salt Lake City, a five-round rematch against longtime welterweight nemesis Leon Edwards. Perhaps a victory for both Blachowicz and Usman could set up another “champ champ” fight?
Time will tell.
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