On February 14th, Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman successfully defended his 170-pound title against his former teammate, Gilbert Burns. Despite being caught in the first round with a pinpoint right hand, the Nigerian Nightmare overcame adversity to cement his status as one of the all-time great welterweights. After securing a third-round stoppage over Durinho, Usman declared that he’s the “best on the planet”, and, off the back of that showing, few can doubt him.
As is always the case at welterweight, any success sees comparisons drawn to Georges St-Pierre, a former two-weight world champion. Following his recent triumph, the reigning 170-pound belt-holder stated an interest in fighting the Canadian, who hasn’t fought at welterweight since November 2013. But, does Usman need to fight GSP to prove that he’s the best? Well, let’s see how their legacies compare.
Dana White Believes the Nigerian is the Real Deal
In the immediate aftermath of Usman’s UFC 258 triumph of Burns, Dana White, the organisation’s president, suggested that the Nigerian could go down as the company’s best-ever welterweight, surpassing GSP’s legacy. While there’s a path for the champion to cement his legacy, getting caught up in reactionary suggestions isn’t advisable. Take nothing away from Usman, he’s undoubtedly the best welterweight at the time of writing, but similar discussions were rife during Tyron Woodley’s reign of dominance.
After defeating Robbie Lawler for the belt in July 2016, the Chosen One beat Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia, and Darren Till before a decision loss to Usman in March 2019. Since then, however, the five-foot-nine orthodox fighter has suffered back-to-back defeats against Burns and Colby Covington.
That said, Usman might be an exception to the rule. Fascinatingly, his triumph over Durinho saw him extend his unbeaten welterweight run to 13 victories. By comparison, St-Pierre’s tally sat at 12, with his 13th consecutive win coming at middleweight against Michael Bisping. In relation to Woodley, his best run sat on three on two occasions, as per his official UFC record.
How Do They Compare?
Because Usman and St-Pierre predominantly fought in different eras, it’s not feasible to directly compare their unbeaten runs. However, there are plenty of similarities between their respective records. Before and after his shock defeat to Matt Serra at UFC 69: Shootout, the Canadian fought the very best welterweights on the planet. Impressively, Rush has victories over BJ Penn, Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks, Matt Hughes, Nick Diaz, and many more. The same is also true of Usman, who’s triumphed over Covington, Jorge Masvidal, Leon Edwards, Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, and Woodley.
Moreover, even their approach to fighting is somewhat similar, with each favouring a controlled style. In Usman’s 13 UFC fights, he’s finished four of them. Interestingly, in St-Pierre’s last 13 bouts in the promotion, he’s won the same amount by stoppage. That said, the Nigerian has a fair way to go if he’s to surpass Rush’s run of nine successful title defenses.
If these two were to fight, then it would be tricky to pick a favourite. However, if Usman is to become the best-ever 170-pound competitor, he may consider moving up to middleweight to replicate Rush’s achievements. Should he opt for a change, a clash against the winner of Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker may appeal. As of February 15th, the Brazilian, who previously faced Israel Adesanya at UFC 253, is 6/4 to defeat the Reaper on March 18th with sports betting in Canada odds.
The Onus is On Usman to Deliver
The Nigerian Nightmare rightfully doesn’t doubt his ability, and that confidence could see him become the all-time great at 170-pounds. There can be no doubts that he’s faced some of the most talented competitors in his division, and he’ll likely welcome any future challenges that come his way in his pursuit of a legacy-building record.