DETROIT – As far as he knows, Kamaru Usman no longer has a fight booked. But, while that situation gets resolved, he’s going a few rounds outside the octagon with a couple of his welterweight peers.
Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) was supposed to fight Emil Meek (9-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at Dec. 30’s UFC 219. Meek’s visa issues, however, soon cast some doubt as to whether the matchup would ever materialize. Eventually, Meek got his visa. But by then, Usman’s manager said, they had moved on to “mug bigger, scared fish.”
Meek kept on gunning for the fight, only to be violently rebuffed by Usman on Twitter. Speaking to reporters backstage at UFC 218, Usman elaborated on the situation.
“We knew months ago he wasn’t going to be able to get his visa, he wasn’t getting his visa,” Usman said. “So we were told, ‘Hey, we’re going to work on the visa, are you still willing to hang on?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll hang on.’ In the process, they were trying to find someone who’d step in right away. And then it came to a point where, officially, it was like, ‘Yeah, it’s not looking likely.’
“Because what am I supposed to do? Sit and wait three weeks out, four weeks out, training hard for a fight that might not happen? So they said, ‘officially, we’re going to pull him. And we’re going to offer it to some guy, to see if they’ll fight.’”
The offer, Usman says, was made to controversial welterweight contender Colby Covington – who remains unbooked after a big win over ex-title-challenger Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 119.
“That’s the fight they really want to make,” Usman said. “It’s the fight that makes sense. And he declined, once again.”
Usman sees why Covington, who’s been avidly campaigning for a shot at champ Tyron Woodley’s belt, wouldn’t want to fight him. The problem, the No. 8 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings says, is that No. 5 Covington was the one accusing Usman of doing the running not that long ago.
“It’s rough because he’s one of those guys who’s specifically been saying I’ve been ducking him, when that fight was never offered,” Usman said. “Now that the fight is being offered and he’s saying, ‘oh, no.’ Blatantly, three different occasions, he said ‘No, no, no.’
“I can’t understand why he wouldn’t take the fight. Well, in a sense I can – he thinks he’s next in line for a title shot. Which, it’s clear they’re not giving you a title shot. So hey, take the fight, at least prove to the people you’re the best, (and) you are next in line for a title shot.”
In light of Covington’s alleged refusal, Usman says he was told they would try to get him booked for January. And, in the interim, he came down with a bad flu that kept him in bed for a whole week and had yet to clear by the time he talked to reporters in Detroit.
Usman says he found out about Meek’s visa clearance as soon as he got off the plane, from social media.
“I’m like, goddman – it’s kind of too late now,” Usman said. “But it just kind of sucks that’s how things happen sometimes.
Usman wouldn’t commit to it, given he hadn’t had any official discussions yet. But, “as long as I know,” the fight with Meek at UFC 219 is off. The UFC’s website, though, still shows the bout on their event page.
Either way, Usman is not exactly happy with the way his would-be opponent framed the situation.
“Let’s be honest: look at the fight,” Usman said. “What about Emil Meek scares me that’s like, ‘Wow, don’t fight this guy’? No. Does he have big power, really? No. Can he outwrestle me? No. Can he outgrapple me? No. This was a, ‘stay busy, here’s a fight because no one else will fight you, here.’
“He’s kind of trying to make it seem like, ‘Oh, you’re trying to duck me?’ What do I have to duck? I’m asking for harder guys. How is that me ducking you? It makes no sense.”
To hear more from Usman, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Kamaru Usman denies ducking Emil Meek, says Colby Covington refused to fight him