Despite a lengthy win streak, UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman doesn't think he's getting many opportunities to shine because the UFC hasn't made a real effort to showcase the sport in Usman's native in Nigeria, and by extension, Usman himself.
Usman appeared on Fightful's "Holy Smokes MMA Podcast" to talk about him not getting many chances to shine on a big stage. Usman also clarified any misconceptions people have had about Usman saying that he's not getting promoted by the UFC because he is from Nigeria, which is not the case.
"I feel like people kind of misconstrue did that in a way. People ask why I wasn't promoted and to be honest with you, like I said, I'm not saying the UFC isn't promoting me because I'm from Nigeria. That's not what I meant. What I meant to say is, I feel like, if you want to talk about promoting guys, Mike Perry has gotten four UFC fights, he's 3-1. We can all say he's being promoted. There are certain guys that are being put on marquee cards, being given those co-main event slots. Why don't I deserve that? I have the longest active win streak in the division. Why don't I deserve that? I dominate guys. I beat up guys. I just basically put it all together. I'm not saying the UFC hates me or like me. What I'm strictly saying is I'm from Nigeria where the sport is not primarily the biggest thing right now because they don't really know about it. The UFC is still growing, growing at a rapid pace. That's a sport [Nigeria] hasn't seen yet. I believe I'm the second Nigerian signed to the UFC. I think I might be the first Nigerian born. They've never heard of it and so the UFC i thinking, 'Well, they never really heard of the sport over there, so why would we spend money and go over there and get a TV deal or promote a guy that's from there where we feel like guys there won't buy the pay-per-view or buy a fight," Usman said.
Even though Usman is The Ultimate Fighter 21 welterweight tournament winner and has won all six of his UFC fights, Usman is just only ranked 11th in the official UFC welterweight rankings.
Usman used the example of fellow welterweight Darren Till, who is from England, and fighting Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 118 on October 21. Usman doesn't believe Till is very well known outside of his home nation, but because the UFC has already invested in expanding its reach in that region, it afforded the opportunity to give Till the main event slot. Usman thinks he's not getting the same offers because UFC hasn't put in the same efforts to expanding in Nigeria as it did for several other countries all over the world.
"Look at Darren Till. He's fighting in the main event versus 'Cowboy.' Because of how I studied everyone and follow everyone, I know a little about Till. How many people know of Till? Not that many, but over there overseas in his neck of the woods, they probably know of him and that's a place the UFC has broken ground out there in Europe and they can sell there. I just basically have to do the extra work that the UFC could have cut short for me and let them know that now I got eyeballs on me, that people are actually following me and so, bring them to the table where UFC can really start saying, 'Yeah, we'll give you main event slots.' it's not that I'm saying the UFC hates me or trying not to promote me. The legwork they've been doing for Conor McGregor and all those other guys, they're not doing it for me," Usman said.
You can check out Usman's comments in the video above. The "Holy Smokes MMA Podcast," hosted by "Showdown" Joe Ferraro and Fightful managing editor Sean Ross Sapp can be watched live on Fightful and on YouTube every Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.