97°F
weather icon Clear

Kamaru Usman resumes quest for title fight at ‘TUF’ 28 Finale

UFC welterweight contender Kamaru Usman thought he would be fighting for a title by now.

Instead, he will have to settle for a headline bout against a former champion in the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 28 Finale on Friday at the Palms.

Usman will put his 12-fight win streak, which includes eight UFC bouts, on the line against former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos.

The 7 p.m. card on Fox Sports 1 includes championship bouts for the heavyweight and women’s featherweight tournaments from this season of the reality show.

A victory should put Usman in prime position to finally secure a title shot, but that’s what he thought before his last fight against contender Demian Maia in May.

Usman won the fight by unanimous decision, but it wasn’t the kind of overwhelming performance that could have served as a springboard to bigger things.

“I’ve just kind of put my mind in a position of what’s going to be big for me is winning that UFC title,” Usman, 31, said this week. “When I was there in Chile going through all the media rounds as a main event for the first time, I had a second to think about how it felt special. After the victory, it’s all about the media and the fans and how they receive it, and they didn’t receive it as well. So it is what it is, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, my job is to win in impressive fashion.”

Style points have been tough to come by for Usman, who tends to smother opponents to the point of making it look too easy.

The Division II national champion wrestler secures takedowns at will and makes it difficult for opponents to get to their feet, but he also has shown growth with the rest of his game.

“I think I’m a hybrid of the new age of mixed martial arts,” he said. “There was a time when guys just had a specialty like boxer or wrestler or jiujitsu guy. Then came guys who could blend taking you down with also being able to kick your head off. Now you get these guys that are doing all these weird spinning and jumping strikes and then you throw them on their back and they can still choke you out. I’d like to think I’m a hybrid to where if you had to pick, where would you say I’m weak? I can outwrestle guys, I can outgrapple guys. I can put your lights out, and I have a gas tank for days. I can do it all.”

Dos Anjos has taken notice. The former lightweight champion had won his first three fights after moving to 170 pounds, only to fall to Colby Covington in an interim welterweight title bout in June.

Dos Anjos doesn’t spend much time watching film on opponents, but he has monitored Usman’s progress.

“He’s a really good wrestler, and his striking has been improving a lot,” dos Anjos said. “To be undefeated in the UFC is no easy task. It’s impressive. But I’ll be glad to hand him his first loss.”

Four fights from the preliminary card also will air on Fox Sports 1 at 5 p.m.

More MMA: Follow online at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
UFC Apex is the promotion's newest cutting-edge facility
The UFC Apex will officially open as Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series kicks off on June 19. Here's a look at what the promotion's newest facility in Las Vegas has to offer.
UFC President Dana White on the UFC Apex, ESPN deal, when Conor McGregor could return and more
UFC President Dana White gave the Review-Journal an exclusive interview where he spoke about the promotion's new facility, the UFC Apex, their new deal with ESPN, when Conor McGregor may return to the octagon and more.
Shevchenko says defending the UFC flyweight belt is her number one challenge
UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko claimed the vacant title when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 last December. She will put the belt on the line for the first time in Chicago, Ill., when she faces Jessica Eye at UFC 238 on June 8.
UFC title contender Jessica Eye says her move to Las Vegas gives her an edge
Ohio native Jessica Eye says she moved to Las Vegas to get an edge in performance ahead of facing UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 238 in Chicago, Ill., on June 8.
Greg Hardy, former NFL star, on MMA knockout
The former NFL star needed just 17 seconds to score a knockout on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series (Adam Hill/Review-Journal)
Marlon Moraes says Henry Cejudo will regret stepping up to bantamweight - VIDEO
UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo is coming up to the bantamweight division to battle Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt on June 8 at UFC 238. Moraes said Cejudo will regret going after a second title in a new division and added that he thinks his path will cross with former champion TJ Dillashaw in the future.
Paige VanZant details her arm injury, when she can return - VIDEO
UFC strawweight Paige VanZant was briefly linked to fight at UFC 236, but had to withdraw from the bout due to a broken arm. As a guest on the RJ Ringside Podcast, she detailed the injury and also spoke about joining the M-1 Global booth as a color commentator.
THE LATEST
Tony Ferguson beats Donald Cerrone by TKO at UFC 238

Tony Ferguson’s path to the lightweight title is becoming clear. Ferguson won by technical knockout after a medical stoppage in a lightweight fight against Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 on Saturday night.