UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has disclosed he would be interested moving up to the middleweight division, but only if his friend and fellow Nigerian Israel Adesanya (pictured top left) is no longer champion.
Usman, a Nigerian and American says he would ‘absolutely’ consider stepping up to the 185 pounds category after he beat Gilbert Burns 34 seconds into the third round at UFC 258 – taking his record to 18-1, defending his title for the third time.
However, he admitted the move is dependent on Adesanya as he ‘would never entertain going up to fight his friend as he would rather ‘two Africans held belts than one African with two belts’.
Usman said he would consider the step up if Adesanya says he wants ‘nothing to do with’ the middleweight anymore.
He told ESPN: ‘Absolutely, absolutely. If Izzy’s willing to move up – well he is moving up, but if he’s willing to give up that 185 belt and says “I have nothing to do with that anymore”, then absolutely I would entertain that thought.’
Usman and Adesanya are regarded as two of the most dominant champions in the UFC at present, but neither of them will fight each other due to a long-standing friendship.
Usman added: ‘On no account right now would I ever entertain going up to fight Izzy. That’s just not something that I’m interested in.
‘I’ve stated over and over before, I’d rather two Africans with belts as opposed to one African with two belts.
‘After March, it’s gonna be three Africans with four belts. It’s a good time to be an African.’