Kamaru Usman has chance to 'rewrite history' with shock UFC 294 victory over undefeated Khamzat Chimaev, says Bisping | The Sun
KAMARU USMAN has the opportunity to change fans' current perception of him with victory in his short-notice showdown with Khamzat Chimaev.
Africa's first UFC champion was the most dominant force in all of mixed martial arts a little over 14 months ago with five defences of the welterweight title to his name.
But he was knocked off his lofty perch by a Hail Mary head kick in his rematch with Leon Edwards after dominating the Brit for nigh-on four rounds.
A second successive defeat to Edwards followed in March, which prompted a short-notice move up to middleweight to take on the undefeated Khamzat Chimaev tonight at UFC 294.
The winner of the Abu Dhabi dust-up will get the next crack at newly-crowned middleweight king Sean Strickland, who Usman, 36, has already bested.
And the division's former ruler Michael Bisping reckons the prospect of becoming a two-weight world champion could potentially inspire The Nigerian Nightmare to an upset victory.
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He told SunSport: "If Kamaru gets the job done, he gets to fight Sean Strickland for the middleweight title.
"And he wiped the floor with Sean Strickland.
"So this now, for Kamaru, is a chance to re-write history, so to speak, and say, 'No, I'm not done.'
"I'm going to become a two-weight champion. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is. "
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Bisping, unlike many MMA fans, is refusing to buy into the notion that Usman's recent skid is proof his best days are long behind him
He said: "With the two losses to Leon, people try to formulate this kind of narrative that Kamaru is done because he's 36 years old with the wrestling career and all the wear and tear on the body.
"'His knees are shot, etc, etc'. But you can't count a guy like that out.
"He's only 36, he's not 40. So he's still a young man.
"Yeah there is wear and tear, but there is also a lot to gain in this fight."
Usman stepped up on 11 days' notice to fight Chechen clubber Chimaev following Paulo Costa's injury-enforced withdrawal from the co-main event.
Stepping up on short notice is something Bisping knows all too well having successfully won the belt against Luke Rockhold in the summer of 2016 with just 14 days of preparation time.
And he believes it could serve to benefit Usman, who enters the fight as a 2/1 underdog.
This now, for Kamaru, is a chance to re-write history
He said: "The fact he's taking it on short notice, I think in many ways – like when I beat Rockhold- will help him.
"Just like [Alexander] Volkanovski as well.
"As long as they've been living that kind of lifestyle and being healthy, they'll be okay."
Usman and Chimaev have a common opponent in former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns, with the former stopping his long-time team-mate and the latter going the distance with the Brazilian.
The results of those fights by no means guarantee Usman a victory, although Bisping reckons a lot can be gleaned from them.
He said: "Khamzat Chimaev is an incredibly tough fighter, but if you look at Gilbert Burns versus Kamaru and Gilbert Burns versus Chimaev, they were very different fights.
"Kamaru destroyed Gilbert. Granted it was a few years ago and MMA math doesn't stack up.
"But it can be a pretty good yardstick for where they both are."
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