Kamaru Usman was originally scheduled to fight fellow prospect Santiago Ponzinibbio at the main event of UFC Fight Night 129. Since the Argentinian was forced to withdraw due to a hand injury, Usman will instead face arguably the biggest test in his mixed martial arts career -- and the guy he’s been calling out for two years -- Demian Maia.
Usman is a 4-1 favorite over the 40 year-old Maia. At 31, he is the much younger man and has been putting out one dominant performance after another in earning himself a clean 7-0 slate since joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Given his striking credentials, he poses a big threat to anyone at 170.
In the promotion’s first trip to Chile, Usman has a chance to further propel his name to the top of the rankings and close in on title contention. But first, here is a closer look on “The Nigerian Nightmare” by the numbers.
1: Minute and 30 seconds was all he needed to dispose of Steven Rodriguez in their Legacy Fighting Championship encounter in January 2014. It is his fastest finish to date.
3: Wins inside the first round. Victims of fast finishes include Rasheed Abdullah, Steven Rodriguez and Sergio Moraes. Incidentally, the lone blemish in his professional career also came in the first round, a loss by rear naked choke to Jose Caceres at CFA 11 in 2013.
2: Fighters defeated before facing Hassan for the finale of “The Ultimate Fighter.” On his road to the finals, he defeated Michael Graves and former World Series of Fighting welterweight titleholder, Steve Carl.
1: Win by KO/TKO in the UFC. While Usman has authored numerous impressive striking performances in his 7-0 run, his only stoppage via strikes since stepping up to the sport's premier promotion came at UFC Fight Night 116, when he folded Sergio Moraes with first-round punches.
1: Win by submission. While Usman is known for his heavy hands, he was able to eke out a submission win when it mattered most, in the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians” against Hayder Hassan. He submitted the American Top Team product via arm-triangle at 1:19 of the second round. His brilliant work earned him not just the contract, but a Performance of the Night bonus as well.
7: Straight wins without a loss in the UFC. Apart from Hassan, Usman has defeated Leon Edwards, Alexander Yakovlev, Warlley Alves, Sean Strickland, Sergio Moraes and Emil Meek.
1: Fight outside of the United States. It happened in Sao Paulo, Brazil for UFC Fight Night 100. Usman won by unanimous decision over Warlley Alves.
4: Spots Usman moved up in the latest UFC rankings after beating Emil Weber Meek at UFC Fight Night 124 in January. He is now ranked seventh while Maia completes the top five.
8: Takedowns against Meek, his most in the UFC. It was a fight where he put on a grappling clinic. Against Hassan and Edwards, he managed six takedowns each.
0: Takedowns by an opponent during his UFC run. Usman has yet to experience being taken down inside the Octagon, which is one reason why his fight against the takedown-savvy Maia is so highly anticipated.
1: Round is all he claims he needs to finish Maia on May 19. Usman made this bold statement in a post-fight interview. He said, “He’s been at the top for a long time. But my style would trump his style. I study this sport. I know that I can get him out of there in the first round.”