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Kamaru Usman wants to beat Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294, then ‘mic drop’ with champ-champ finale

Usman isn’t looking past Chimaev at UFC 294, but sees a path to a spectacular career finish with his last-second fight in Abu Dhabi.

Kamaru Usman has come to the rescue, saving UFC 294’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event by stepping in for an injured Paulo Costa against Khamzat Chimaev.

It’s the second big fight to come together less than two weeks out from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Usman is excited for it ... if a bit annoyed that things had to come together this way. “The Nigerian Nightmare” had been campaigning for a bout against Chimaev for months. Only when their feet were to the fire did UFC acknowledge it was a match-up worth making.

“The crazy thing is, I hate being put in this position because this was supposed to be the fight,” Usman said in an interview with TMZ Sports. “He’s a great, very good prospect, good contender, and he was in my weight class. So, that fight, naturally, was supposed to happen. And I said all right, let’s do it. I’ve been ready for it. Let’s do it. But of course, some things on his side about not being able to make the weight, and also from the UFC side, they have their plans. So the fight didn’t come together.”

As far as Usman is concerned, this is just more business as usual.

“Being put in this position to have to fly across the world in nine days to make this happen? You know, it’s not new to me,” he said. “People forget, I did it in less than six days before. So ain’t nothing new. Fighters fight.”

Kamaru won’t be stepping into the cage out of shape. He’s been busy in the gym as always, keeping things tight for when another match came his way.

“I get the call, I just left training,” he recalled. “This is the thing with me, this is my job, this is what I do. I’m a professional, so it’s not like ‘Oh I don’t have a fight, I don’t do anything.’ I leave training and I get the call from Ali [Abdelaziz] and I’m immediately excited. But that’s just where you are, I’m excited right now about the possibility of winning the jackpot of a billion dollars in the lottery.

“So, I’m excited, and like okay, I call my coaches and throw the idea at them,” he continued. “And no one talked me out of it. So, I’m like, ‘Okay, let me sleep on it,’ because I don’t want to be hasty and do something unintelligent. Let me sleep on it, and I woke up the next day with, ‘Let’s get ready.’ So, I called Ali and said, ‘Let’s do this.’”

If anything, Usman is excited about not having to cut a massive amount of weight to compete.

“I’m taking the fight on nine days notice so I don’t have to get off that extra 27 pounds as usually and killing myself to do that,” he said. “At the end of the day he’s a big guy, big strong guy, but I’m also a big strong guy. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. As long as we both step on that scale and weigh 185. We step into that cage. We’re gonna make it happen, we’re gonna rumble.

“You just see something special about him,” Usman concluded. “We all know it. I know it, he knows it, everyone knows it. He’s very skilled, he’s strong, he’s big, he’s fast, he can wrestle, he can grapple, he can strike. He has everything. And so do I. And at the end of the day we’re all human beings, so ... everybody feels invincible until someone comes in and pokes that balloon.”

As for the title shot being offered by UFC to the winner, that’s just the cherry on top.

“It’s a no-brainer because there’s just that element of story there, it’s built-in,” he said. “Sean Strickland is champion. I’ve already taken care of him [a UD win in 2017], not to say he’s not better, he is. But I’ve got a mountain in front of me that I’ve got to scale and climb, so let’s get through that first then worry about what’s next. But, it’s a no-brainer.

“I might just mic-drop,” Usman concluded. “Grab the Middleweight belt, go down, grab the Welterweight belt, then mic-drop. What a way to go out, though? I want both. I’ve always wanted champ-champ, but what a way — to go get the top one then come back down and get — no one’s ever done that! That would be crazy.”

LIVE! Watch UFC 298 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

WORLD FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Feb. 17, 2024, for the first time in more than two years with its latest pay-per-view (PPV) show. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV main event, reigning Featherweight roost-ruler, Alexander Volkanovski, will defend his 145-pound strap against undefeated surging Spanish contender, Ilia Topuria. In addition, former Middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker, will finally square off with mercurial mauler, Paulo Costa, in UFC 298’s co-feature. UFC 298 will also feature the returns of Ian Garry, Geoff Neal, Henry Cejudo, Merab Dvalishvili and so much more!

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

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 294 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 294: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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