Kamaru Usman has made himself into a contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
Usman will meet Rafael dos Anjos in “The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale” on Nov. 30 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. A decisive victory over dos Anjos would move the Hard Knocks 365 standout one step closer to the title shot he covets. As Usman approaches his critical showdown with dos Anjos, here are five things you might not know about the 31-year-old welterweight contender:
1. He comes from Nigeria.
Usman was born on May 11, 1987 in Benin City, the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria. When he was 5, Usman and his family emigrated to America in search of a better life. Despite leaving at such a tender age, “The Nigerian Nightmare” still identifies as Nigerian. Being draped in a Nigerian flag has become a staple of the brash combatant’s walkouts. Usman’s successes in the cage have seen him gain a strong following back in his homeland, where the nascent sport is just starting to take off.
2. He was a talented wrestler.
Prior to becoming a professional MMA fighter, Usman was a wrestler. He initially excelled in the sport while at school. During his tenure at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas, Usman compiled a 53-3 wrestling record. After graduating, Usman went to the University of Nebraska at Kearney. There, he continued wrestling competitively. His college accolades include earning NCAA Division II All-America honors in each of the three years he was at the school. He was also the 2010 NCAA Division II national champion and a member of the University World Team that same year. During his days on the wrestling mat, Usman went by the moniker “Marty.”
3. He came to the UFC via ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’
Usman had compiled a 5-1 professional MMA record on the regional circuit when he was cast on Season 21 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2015. In his first contest on the show, he gained a majority decision against Michael Graves . This was followed by a unanimous decision over Steve Carl, which saw Usman advance to the season’s finale, where he faced knockout artist Hayder Hassan. Usman used his wrestling acumen to establish dominance, and 1:19 into the second stanza, he sealed the win with an arm-triangle choke. In winning the tournament, Usman earned himself a place on the UFC roster. Now seven fights into his tenure with the Nevada-based promotion, Usman has yet to taste defeat.
4. He tends to win one of two ways.
The once-beaten Usman generally either stops his opponents with strikes or grinds them down with his wrestling to claiming a decision victory. He has six wins by decision and six wins by knockout or technical knockout. The one outlier was Usman’s aforementioned submission triumph in the final of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
5. His brother is also a mixed martial artist.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” is not the only member of his family to have gone the professional MMA route. Younger brother Mohammed Usman is a former college football player who competes in the heavyweight division, where he has compiled a 3-1 professional record. Kamaru introduced his younger sibling to the sport. Mohammed cornered his brother for his professional debut back in 2012. However, despite the fact that they entered the same profession, the two brothers rarely train together.