Amid links to a potential future clash with the undefeated, Khamzat Chimaev, former undisputed UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman has distanced himself from a bout with the unbeaten, Shavkat Rakhmonov – unless championship spoils are on the line.
Usman, the current number one ranked welterweight contender and former pound-for-pound number one fighter under the UFC banner, has been sidelined since he headlined UFC 286 back in March, suffering a trilogy title rubber-match loss to Leon Edwards.
As for Rakhmonov, the Uzbekistan-born contender has so-far enjoyed a stunning 17-0 professional record, most recently keeping his one hundred percent finishing rate intact with a third round rear-naked choke win over Geoff Neal.
Slated to return at UFC Fight Night Las Vegas in September, Rakhmonov has since booked a high-profile co-main event slot with former interim middleweight title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum, in his second outing of the year.
Kamaru Usman discusses potential clash with the unbeaten, Shavkat Rakhmonov
Touted as a shoo-in for a future title siege under the banner of the promotion, if not a future championship hold, Rakhmonov has been dismissed as an opponent by Auchi native, Usman – unless a title is on the line.
“Yeah, it’s a fight I would take for the title,” Kamaru Usman told James Lynch during a UFC 290 Q&A event regarding a fight with Shavkat Rakhmonov. “I mean, that’s the thing is – at the end of the day, every man wants to be the champion, When you get to the top of this sport, you wanna be a champion.”
“So, who am I to deny him when I’m the champion?” Kamaru Usman explained. “Deny him of his shot at the championship? I’m not. But if it’s not for the championship and we happen to train with the exact same coach, like… why? What’s the point?”
Eyeing a return to the Octagon before the close of the year, Usman accused the aforenoted, Chimaev of “flirting” with him across social media – without holding actual interest in a future fight against him.