Kamaru Usman: The UFC Is ‘Absolutely’ Protecting Darren Till

Kamaru Usman says he's absolutely down to travel to Liverpool and face Darren Till in his hometown but he doesn't believe the UFC wants him anywhere near that fight

Kamaru Usman has been gunning for a top five opponent for the past year but hasn’t been able to secure any of those opponents while remaining undefeated in the UFC welterweight division.

With options scarce in the top five right now, Usman felt like a showdown with Darren Till at UFC Fight Night in Liverpool, England made a lot of sense considering where they both sit in the rankings.

Till is currently No. 7 with Usman directly behind him at No. 8. Neither of them have an opponent and both have been trying to crack the top five with a win in their next respective fights.

Unfortunately, Usman doesn’t believe the UFC wants him anywhere near a fight with Till because they are trying to build him up to be the next superstar from England and he presents arguably the toughest matchup possible as a high level wrestler taking on a noted striker.

“Absolutely,” Usman said when asked if he believed the UFC was protecting Till. “I called and asked for him and I got told ‘Dana [White] has plans for him’. I was told no, he has plans for him. They won’t dare give me to Darren Till. They won’t do it.

“Personally, I think Darren is still young enough and hungry enough that he’ll say he’ll fight anybody. I wouldn’t say that he’s scared. I think the UFC is scared of what could happen by having him fight me. I think that’s starting to trickle into his mind a little bit.”

Of course while Usman isn’t ready to say that Till is scared of him, he’s not exactly sure why the British fighter was so willing to face him a few months ago but then lately that’s not the case anymore.

At the same time, Usman can’t help but scoff at Till’s constant talk about his legacy when the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner has only seen him beat one quality opponent during his entire tenure with the UFC.

“He fought one lightweight [Donald Cerrone]. That’s it. He’s 16-0-1. There’s a one on his record and that’s a draw in the UFC. I haven’t lost a round in the UFC,” Usman said. People are forgetting he didn’t make weight once before. It just goes to show this is all about money. There’s no merit to it. It’s not about the best against the best anymore. It’s all about money.

“I think maybe one guy he fought besides “Cowboy” [Cerrone] is still in the UFC. He beats “Cowboy” and all of a sudden he’s No. 7 in the world and he starts talking all this smack about creating a legacy. He’s trying to leave a legacy and all this. What legacy? You beat one guy and I don’t even consider him a real welterweight. I get the UFC is trying to open up a new market [in Liverpool] but don’t try to sell bulls–t to the people.”

As much as he wants to face Till in Liverpool, Usman has almost resigned himself to moving past that fight to focus on the offer he believes he will receive instead.

The UFC will break into another market around the same time as the Liverpool card when the promotion goes to Chile on May 19 and Usman believes that top 10 ranked welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio will be the headliner there because he hails from nearby Argentina.

“I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen. There’s four guys who can fight right now — it’s me, Darren Till, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Neil Magny. Those are the four guys that are willing to fight in that top 10. They have two guys locked in on special dates on back-to-back weekends. What they’re going to do is throw me or Neil Magny at those two guys,” Usman predicted.

“Then it comes down to who do they value more? If you value Darren Till more, you better keep him away from me. If you value Santiago Ponzinibbio more, keep him away from me. I’m putting my money on the UFC valuing Darren Till. I’m going to end up fighting Santiago and Darren Till is going to fight Neil Magny. Just watch what happens.”


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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.