Kamaru Usman has once again ruled out a middleweight title fight against Israel Adesanya despite calls from his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, to pursue the matchup.
The UFC welterweight king and men’s pound-for-pound No. 1 reiterated that he will not be moving up to middleweight so long as Adesanya is champ — but he did consider moving up two weight classes to fight Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title.
“I’ve said it before, as long as Israel Adesanya is the champion, I have no interest in going there,” Usman told Jim Rome in a recent interview (h/t Damon Martin of MMA Fighting). “But when Jan Blachowicz was the champion at light heavyweight, of course, I thought it was a great matchup.
“I’m not saying I would just demolish the whole light heavyweight division. I’m saying I thought that was a great matchup, and I thought that I would have been a two-time champion, and skipping middleweight and becoming the light heavyweight champion.”
“I’ve said it before, Adesanya’s a fellow Nigerian. A good guy. I like him, I like his approach. I’ve said it — I’d rather two Nigerians have belts than one Nigerian with two belts.”
Money talks, though, and Usman would certainly consider the matchup if Dana White offered both he and Adesanya, say, $50 million each.
“If Dana [White] is willing to sit us down and say, $100 million, ‘Hey guys, let’s split this up,’ at that point Israel and I would have to talk. Because at that point, my little brother, my blood brother, we would have to talk and say, ‘Hey, let’s go out here and make this money.’”
Adesanya, however, says his friendship with Usman is ‘bigger than money’ and that he has nothing to gain from the fight.
‘The Last Stylebender’ returns to the Octagon this Saturday, Feb. 12 to defend his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker in the UFC 271 main event at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.