Retired UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov shared the same manager as former welterweight titleholder Kamaru Usman and over the years, developed a friendship with “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
That’s why “The Eagle” was “a little bit upset” when Usman got “severely” knocked out by Leon Edwards in the UFC 278 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last weekend in Salt Lake City, which not only cost him the welterweight title, but also the top spot in the promotion’s pound-for-pound rankings.
“I watched UFC (278) and honestly, I was surprised,” Nurmagomedov said on Instagram. “You could even say a little bit upset because I have a good friendship with Kamaru. Of course, it was hard to watch, as the best fighter in the world, that’s who he is right now, get knocked out severely with 50 seconds remaining in the bout. For a second it all went wrong, he put his hands in the wrong place. Your lights could go out if the proper defense is not in place. You can wake up in the locker room and it’s over. I’m aware that the trilogy is already in the works. I believe he can beat Leon Edwards but after such a knockout, a lot of people don’t recover. It will be interesting to see.”
Former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt was knocked out by TJ Dillashaw at UFC 217 and went from 11-0 to 1-5 with four of those defeats coming by way of knockout. Similarly, ex-middleweight champion Anderson Silva never recovered from his Chris Weidman loss, posting a subsequent record of 1-7 with four knockout finishes.
That said, Georges St-Pierre was torched by Matt Serra at UFC 69 and went on to capture 13 straight wins and two division titles, so it’s not like Usman’s decline is a foregone conclusion. Working against “The Nigerian Nightmare” is his age (35) and I think his return fight will go a long way in determining what the future holds for the former champ.