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UFC champ Kamaru Usman hoping to defend title against Covington by end of year

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“By the end of the year, I should be fighting again, for sure.”

MMA: UFC 235-Woodley vs Usman Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect to see Kamaru Usman defend his welterweight title against Colby Covington anytime soon.

Usman, who dominated then-champ Tyron Woodley to win the welterweight strap at UFC 235, is going to be out of action for most of the year due to injury and ‘logistics.’

As well as nursing a knee injury, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ recently underwent surgery for a double hernia and the newly-minted champ doesn’t expect to defend his title — presumably against Covington — until the end of the year.

“First of all, the most important thing is my health,” Usman told MMA Fighting earlier this month (transcript via Jesse Holland of MMA Mania). “I had a pretty significant surgery after my last fight so I want to get back to the point where I can be in the gym and start training. Then I can become the active and dominant champ that I want to be. We’re talking some contracts that need to be worked out, we’re talking about logistics of where the fight can take place, and the most important is my injury. By the end of the year, I should be fighting again, for sure.”

Although Usman didn’t mention Covington’s name, it’s expected that ‘Chaos’ will be his first title defense. Shortly after dethroning Tyron Woodley at UFC 235, Usman got into a heated physical altercation with Covington at a Las Vegas buffet and both men were ejected (and barred) from the premises.

Although Covington is deserving of a title shot, it’s unlikely that the American Top Team product will sit out for the rest of the year. It’s already been a year since his last fight and, if Usman stays true to his word, Covington could go on to face the winner of Nate Diaz vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC 241.