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Kamaru Usman thinks he can take Demian Maia out in the first round: 'My style would trump his style'
SAO PAULO – He’d said it before and he’ll say it again: Kamaru Usman wants Demian Maia next.
After a dominant three-round performance over “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” winner Warlley Alves (10-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 100, “The Ultimate Fighter 21” winner Usman (9-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) wasted no time in repeating, this time up in the octagon, the same callout he’d made a few days prior.
And later, at the post-fight press conference, he elaborated on why he thinks he’s got what it takes to finish a man that many consider the most gifted grappler in MMA.
“This is fighting, at the end of the day,” Usman said. “This is not a football game where a high school player is talking to an NFL player. He’s been at the top for a long time, but my style would trump his style. And I know, I study this sport, I know that I can get him out of there in the first round.”
Ranked No. 5 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, Maia is in line for a title shot and awaits the seemingly impending announcement of the rematch between champ Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson after their initial UFC 205 encounter before making any plans.
But the Brazilian grappling ace did take to Twitter to write what seemed like a not-so-subtle dismissal of the unranked Usman’s suggestion.
“I know people are looking at me like, ‘Oh, you know, you’re only a couple of fights deep in the UFC,’” Usman said. “Conor McGregor (UFC featherweight and lightweight champion) was one, two fights deep in the UFC before he said he was going to win that title.
“Not everybody out here trains with me, not everybody knows what I’m capable of. My coaches know what I’m capable of, my training partners know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m capable of. And I’ve said it: Dana (White, UFC President), put (Maia) up, and I will get him out of there in the first round.”
While the “TUF 21” winner has said he thinks of himself as the best grappler in the division, on Saturday he wanted to prove there’s a lot more he can offer. Hence, the choice to exchange strikes with Alves instead of simply imposing his takedown-heavy game.
“I could’ve took him down as many times as I wanted and just beat him up until he gave up eventually,” Usman said. “But I really wanted to show something different. I wanted to show everyone that I’m not just dangerous taking the guy down and them not being able to get up.
“I just kind of want to show everyone that I’m not just dangerous on the ground, I’m dangerous everywhere.”