This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 294, we saw a title eliminator in the middleweight division. Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (20-4) was stepping in on short notice to take on the undefeated sensation Khamzat Chimaev (13-0).
Originally, Chimaev was supposed to face Paulo Costa. However, 11 days out, Costa had to pull out of the fight due to an infection in his elbow. Usman took the call and accepted the fight on short notice against the dangerous Chimaev.
Usman revealed that he was offered to have the fight be five rounds. However, he opted to take three rounds which ultimately proved to be a mistake. In the first round, Usman was dominated by the grappling and control of Chimaev. However, starting in the second round, Usman really started to come on strong and Chimaev lost some steam.
Despite Chimaev getting takedowns in the second and third round, you can make the argument for Usman winning the final two rounds at UFC 294. Chimaev won a majority decision on the cards with one judge scoring the fight a draw giving Chimaev a 10-8 first round and Kamaru Usman the next two rounds.
Staying at middleweight after UFC 294?
Usman admitted after the fight that he should have made the fight five rounds. We will never truly know, but with the way the fight was going, I would’ve been on Kamaru Usman winning those final two rounds which would’ve won him the fight and a shot at the middleweight title.
However, it was three rounds and Chimaev got the win. Now, what should Kamaru Usman do next? He’s honestly not sure, but if you ask me, I like the idea of him staying at middleweight. He’s done everything there is to do in the UFC’s welterweight division. At this stage in his career, I think the right move is to move up and do it right. Take a little time to get his body acclimated to 185 and try to do some damage up a weight class.
He hinted at being interested in fighting Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 300 and I wouldn’t mind that matchmaking at all especially if the promotion is dead set on Chimaev getting the next title shot over DDP. Just like with Israel Adesanya, there is some bad blood between Usman and DDP. Wouldn’t be the cleanest buildup, but it would get people talking and interested.