Siblings in mixed martial arts are often very close. They see and train with each other every day. They share the same coaches, the same values, sometimes the same friends. They do everything together.
Look at the Diaz brothers. Or the Pettis brothers. Or even the Miller brothers. All three pairs share extremely similar — if not identical — lifestyles. They’re seemingly best friends.
Though closeness is a trend among siblings in combat sports, it’s not always the case.
Mohammed Usman is one of successful UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman’s two brothers. Unlike the three previously mentioned pairs of brothers, Mohammed and Kamaru live on opposite sides of the country and rarely train and see each other. But according to Mohammed (who will be referred to as “Usman” for the remainder of the article), it’s nothing personal. Their relationship is more than intact; they simply went their separate ways — like many siblings do in life — to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish.
“We’re close, but we’ve never been that kind of, ‘Oh, let me know what you’re doing every two seconds,’” Usman told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. “We went to different universities, we went different paths. And everybody has their own different mindset.”
Usman trains at Rise Combat Sports in Tucson, Ariz., alongside former UFC flyweight title challenger Chris Cariaso, as well as Reyes Boxing Club in Fort Worth, Texas, while Kamaru trains at Combat Club in South Florida. And that’s the way it has been for a long time.
Usman is OK with that. He doesn’t mind the fact that he and his brother are on separate journeys.
“I’d never intrude or be like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna come train with you because I’m gonna be an MMA fighter,’” Usman said. “If [Kamaru] said, ‘Hey, Mo, come train down here.’ Of course I’d go. But that’s never just been the case. I know he’s got a busy life and he’s trying to do a lot of things in his division, so that’s why I just stay in my own lane.”
And Usman plans on staying on his own journey for the time being. The former college football player, who makes his mixed martial arts debut on Thursday at Tachi Palace Fights 31 in California, doesn’t plan on changing much — including his training camp — in the foreseeable future. He’s happy staying, for the most part, in Arizona and Texas, because his entire team has believed in him from the beginning. And because, only eight months into true MMA training, it’s worked for him thus far.
But the heavyweight fighter knows he needs to train with the best if he wants to go far in the sport. And that may include training more often at Combat Club alongside his brother and many other elite mixed martial artists.
“After this fight, I will definitely be going down to Florida more and more and training with Rashad Evans and Tyrone Spong and those guys,” he said. “I know I’m gonna need good heavyweights to train with to be the best — you have to train with the best. One of my friends, Francis Ngannou, he told me to come down and train with him in Las Vegas.”
Some of the anticipation surrounding Usman’s debut is likely only because of his last name. Usman understands and is fine with that. That said, he wants fans to know who he is and what he brings to the table — not just the fact he is Kamaru’s brother.
“I’m my own athlete,” he said. “As you can see, we’re all built differently. I’m a couple pounds heavier than him. My motivation comes within me. Whatever I want to do, I get motivated to do it. And that goes for anybody — nobody else should be able to motivate you more than yourself.”
Usman credits Kamaru for introducing him to the world of prize fighting. Usman cornered Kamaru in his debut four years ago, and has cornered his brother many times since. And since his first cornering duties, he’s fallen in love with the sport. But Usman believes he would have found his way to mixed martial arts even if he didn’t have a sibling already involved in the sport.
“If he wasn’t my brother, I’d still want to do this,” he said. “He definitely introduced me to it. But after that, my love for it grew. What’s meant for you will always be for you.”