Kamarudeen Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a Nigerian mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the current UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman is also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. As of January 27, 2020, he is #7 in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings.
Usman was born in Auchi, Nigeria. His father was in the Nigerian Army. He has two brothers, Kash and Mohammed, of whom the latter is also a mixed martial artist. Usman and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. He started wrestling in his sophomore year in high school, at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. Because Usman's wrestling coach at the time had trouble pronouncing his first name Kamarudeen, he got the nickname "Marty" when he joined the team and it stuck with him during his amateur wrestling career. After compiling a 53-3 record in high school wrestling, Usman wrestled alongside Jon Jones at the senior national tournament before leaving for college.
In college, Usman wrestled in Iowa at William Penn University for one year, where he was an NAIA national qualifier in 2007. He then transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) and helped the school win its first-ever team title in 2008. Usman earned NCAA Division II All-American honors all three years he attended UNK, and was a two-time national finalist. He became the NCAA Division II national champion at 174 lbs in 2010. Additionally, he was a University World Team member in freestyle wrestling in 2010. Former National Football League (NFL) star Christian Okoye, who has the nickname "The Nigerian Nightmare" trademarked, gave his blessing for Usman to use it.
Mixed martial arts career
Professional MMA career
Usman made his professional MMA debut in November 2012. He compiled a record of 5-1, competing for several regional promotions before trying out for The Ultimate Fighter in early 2015.
The Ultimate Fighter
In February 2015, it was announced that Usman was one of the fighters selected to be on The Ultimate Fighter 21.
In his first fight on the show, Usman faced Michael Graves. He won the fight via majority decision.
In the semifinals, Usman faced off against former WSOF Welterweight Champion Steve Carl. He won the fight via unanimous decision and advanced to the finals.
In the finals, Usman faced Hayder Hassan on July 12, 2015, at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale. He won the bout via submission in the second round, thus winning a six-figure contract with the UFC. He was also awarded a Performance of the Night bonus.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Usman faced Leon Edwards on December 19, 2015, at UFC on Fox 17. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
Usman was expected to face Srgio Moraes on May 14, 2016, at UFC 198. However, Usman was replaced on the card for undisclosed reasons by promotional newcomer Luan Chagas.
Usman faced Rafael dos Anjos on November 30, 2018, at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. He won the fight via unanimous decision. This win earned him the Performance of the Night award.
UFC Welterweight Champion
Riding a nine-fight winning streak in the UFC, Usman next faced UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley on March 2, 2019, in the co-main event at UFC 235. He won the fight via unanimous decision to become the new UFC Welterweight Champion.
Usman made his first title defense and faced Colby Covington at UFC 245 on December 14, 2019. He was victorious via fifth round technical knockout. This fight earned him the Fight of the Night award.
Usman is expected to defend his title for the second time against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 252.