“Leon Edwards is there. I mean, the guy has been tearing it up. Gilbert (Burns) had an amazing year. He is there. Colby (Covington) thinks he is there”
Kamaru Usman insists there is ‘no shortage of contenders’ as he looks ahead after successfully defending his Welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal on Saturday night.
The Nigerian-American retained his belt in a unanimous decision in Abu Dhabi, the judges scoring the fight 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 in his favour.
It means Usman remains unbeaten in his UFC career so far, as well as putting him level with Khabib Nurmagomedov with 12 consecutive wins.
A meeting with Gilbert Burns could still be on the cards after the Brazilian was forced to withdraw from his fight with Usman six days before the event having tested positive for coronavirus.
“First and foremost, I need to get home to my daughter,” said Usman. “That is what is important. I need to sit on my couch, eat some Thai food and watch some Netflix with her, and then watch a couple of gymnastics training and a couple of jiu-jitsu practices.
“And then we will start thinking about fighting somebody again. I mean, that is the one thing in this division. There are no shortage of contenders.
“Leon Edwards is there. I mean, the guy has been tearing it up. Gilbert (Burns) had an amazing year. He is there. Colby (Covington) thinks he is there. So there are no shortage of challenges.
Usman admitted after the fight that it has been a mentally draining week preparing for his title defence, which headlined the first-ever event at ‘Fight Island’.
“I felt good, just kind of dealing with all the circumstances that I had to deal with this whole week,” said Usman. “I think in the last three days, I slept maybe 10 hours – if that. And then, of course, dealing with the heat.
“And then, of course, having the weight cut and things like that. It was a very, very challenging week for me mentally.
“I cannot even tell you guys what the last 24 hours were like mentally. And then, of course, with a guy, with a dog like Jorge Masvidal – it was very challenging.
“But these are what champions are made of. You have to rise to the occasion and take care of business. And that is what I did tonight (Saturday).”
For Masvidal, it ended a three-fight win streak and marked his first loss since November 2017, which had been his final fight before a 16-month layoff from the sport.
The 35-year-old has now set his sights on a rematch with Usman, next time with a proper training camp unlike the week he had to get ready on this occasion.
“I hate coming up short,” he said. “I make no excuses, he (Kamaru Usman) was the better man tonight (Saturday).
“There were some areas where I did not give me enough credit and there were some areas where I felt, with a better training camp, I could definitely surpass him.
“I think I showed a lot of my wrestling on six, eight (weeks) notice (after a late call-up to replace Gilbert Burns), that I am not too easy to take down or to hold down on the ground. I made a lot of mistakes.
“He won fair and square. I will do whatever it takes to get back in front of that man and compete again and get my hand raised (for victory).”