Except for Kamaru Usman, no one in the top ten of the UFC’s welterweight division has fought in 2018 so far. There have been reported matchups such as Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington and Stephen Thompson vs. Darren Till, but none of these have been finalized just yet.
The number seven-ranked Usman offered a personal assessment as to why there is a seeming stagnancy in his division, where he put the bulk of the blame on how different the current era is compared to the past years.
“The fight game has changed to where it’s no longer the toughest is fighting the toughest to be the best on the planet,” Usman said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Mania). “Now there are all these different components that go into it.”
“Fighters no longer manage themselves, they have a whole team behind them. A fighter has a manager, an agent, a Hollywood agent, they got this and that. And on top of that, they’ve got their whole team of coaches.”
The 30-year-old Usman also believes the current ownership plays a big part, as he pointed out the difference from when the Fertitta brothers ran the company.
“Also, the company that we’re under now, it’s not the old UFC ‘As Real as It Gets’ hardcore,” Usman said. “It’s an entertainment company now. So, everybody now is trying to find the favorable matchup. ‘I want that big name or this big fight, I want this standup guy here, I don’t want want to deal with a hard-nosed wrestler that I can’t take down, or someone I can’t out-strike.’ So all these guys are trying to pick favorable matchups.”
In this regard, Usman is also the only top-ten welterweight who has a confirmed fight, as he is currently slated to headline the UFC’s Fight Night event in Chile on May 19th against Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Usman’s interview begins at the 1:32:32 mark of the video above.