Born in Benin City, Nigeria, Usman and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 8-years-old. After compiling a 53–3 record in high school wrestling, at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas, and qualifying for the NAIA national meet at William Penn University, Usman’s wrestling career took off after transferring to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Usman earned NCAA Division II All-American honors all three years he attended and helped the school win its first-ever overall team title in 2008. In his senior season, he won the 2010 NCAA Division II national title at 174 lbs. Additionally, he was also a member of the University World Team for wrestling in 2010.
Kamaru 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: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians. In Usman’s first fight on the show he faced Michael Graves and won the fight via majority decision. In the semifinals, Usman faced off against former WSOF Welterweight Champion Steve Carl and won the fight via unanimous decision, advancing to the finals.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
- Usman faced Hayder Hassan in the finals on July 12, 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale. He won the bout via submission in the second round. He was also awarded a Performance of the Night bonus.
- 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 Sérgio Moraes on May 14, 2016 at UFC 198. However, Usman was replaced on the card for undisclosed reasons by promotional newcomer Luan Chagas.
- Usman next faced Alexander Yakovlev on July 23, 2016 at UFC on Fox 20. He won the one-sided fight via unanimous decision.
- Usman faced Warlley Alves on November 19, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 100. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
- Usman faced Sean Strickland on April 8, 2017 at UFC 210. He won the fight via unanimous decision.
- A rescheduled bout with Sérgio Moraes eventually took place on September 16, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 116. Usman won the fight via knockout in the first round.
- Usman was scheduled to face Emil Weber Meek on December 30, 2017 at UFC 219, but the fight was rescheduled for UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi. He won the fight by unanimous decision.
- Usman was expected to face Santiago Ponzinibbio on May 19, 2018 at UFC Fight Night 129. However, on April 21, Ponzinibbio was pulled from the card due to injury, and he was replaced by Demian Maia. Usman won the fight via unanimous decision.
- 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.
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