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UFC champ Kamaru Usman provides update on hand injury, possible return

Usman was last seen at UFC 268, where he defeated Colby Covington for a second time. 

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Kamaru Usman is still recovering from hand surgery and hopes to return by the end of the year.

Usman broke his right hand during a final sparring session for his championship rematch against Colby Covington at UFC 268 this past November. The reigning UFC welterweight champion went on to defeat Covington via unanimous decision in his fifth consecutive defense.

Nearly three months after the fight, he underwent surgery to repair ligament damage and expected to fight again as soon as International Fight Week, which usually culminates in a massive pay-per-view event. However, that original timeline has now been adjusted as the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ needs more time to recover.

“The hand is doing a little better,” said Usman during an appearance at UFC 274 (video provided by MMA Fighting). “Saw the doctor this week, and I can start to make a light contact with the hand. That’s just what sucks with these things. When you’re dealing with tendons, they’re a lot tougher to just heal right away, especially when they’re on top of the knuckles.”

Usman was hesitant to give an exact date for his return, but was clear he wanted it before the year is over.

“I hate being wrong, so I don’t want to throw a time on it. Just rest assured, I want to be in there as soon as possible.”

Awaiting the champion upon his return is Leon Edwards, the No. 2 ranked welterweight who has gone 9-0-1 since losing a unanimous decision to Usman at UFC on FOX 17 over six years ago. UFC president Dana White has confirmed that Edwards is 100 percent next for Usman, though nothing has been officially announced yet.

There is also Khamzat Chimaev, who recently defeated Gilbert Burns in a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender at UFC 273 in April. The win over Burns saw ‘Borz’ skyrocket to No. 3 in the division, a move that could lead to his first championship opportunity in the UFC. When asked if there was more interest in fighting someone like Chimaev given his meteoric rise since his arrival to the promotion, Usman said he had no preference because everyone is a challenge.

“He’s a competitor,” said Usman. “Each and every one of these guys in the division is a competitor. So I take them as competitors, I take them that serious. But as far as putting anything extra on anybody just to try to give them a boost, I don’t really care about that.

“Gilbert Burns was just as tough of a fighter as Colby Covington, just as touch as Jorge Masvidal,” continued Usman. “I don’t really try to put anything extra on these guys. Of course, I love the extra zeros on the check if they bring that much eyeballs, but at the end of the day, they’re just competitors and I see no face.”