Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to return to the United Kingdom on March 18, 2023, for a full pay-per-view (PPV) event inside O2 Arena in London, England; however, the event may not be topped by the headliner everyone is expecting.
The original goal was to have new Welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, rematch Kamaru Usman at an outdoor stadium. The stadium thing was ditched, and now rumors are swirling that Usman won’t be ready to compete in March because of a hand injury. While “The Nigerian Nightmare” is being tight-lipped about the situation, he did show up to a mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Lagos, Nigeria, wearing a hand brace, which certainly doesn’t bode well.
You can see a screenshot of the appearance from Face Off Fight Night 3 on Dec. 29, 2022, via Grabaka Hitman, who has an impressive ability to track all the goings on in the international MMA world.
Kamaru Usman addressed the crowd after at Face Off FN. Still seems to be nursing a hand injury. pic.twitter.com/K4t5SndtwL— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) December 29, 2022
Word that Usman may be unable to fight Edwards in London started to circulate widely after Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson suggested in mid-December that UFC was looking for replacement options.
“People are in-talks of me fighting Leon Edwards,” Thompson said on the Fred Talks Fighting podcast. “I know Kamaru Usman is having hand surgery, I know they want to fight somebody in March and they were looking at Jorge Masvidal. He’s a standup fighter, so it kind of inspires me a bit, our division is so wrestler-heavy, and Leon Edwards is a striker and he’s champ.”
Fred Beck, the host of Fred Talks Fighting, then tweeted about Usman being out of the Edwards fight because of hand surgery. Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, replied, calling the tweet, “Fake news.”
Usman has a long history with hand injuries and actually competed against Colby Covington with a broken fist in Nov. 2021. In Feb. 2022, “The Nigerian Nightmare” underwent surgery to repair ligaments in the same hand.
And now we’ve got this speculation regarding another possible hand issue.
While it’s still premature to assume too much regarding Usman’s health and his ability to fight Edwards in March, it’s clear something is going on with the long-time 170-pound kingpin’s hand. We can only hope that whatever it is doesn’t stop one of the most anticipated rematches of the year from coming together as originally planned.