Kamaru Usman claims Conor McGregor turned down UFC welterweight title fights


Kamaru Usman vs. Conor McGregor for the UFC welterweight title? Usman says it was a possibility.

And according to him, McGregor wanted no part of it.

On an episode of the Pound 4 Pound podcast, Usman’s co-host Henry Cejudo asked the former champion about comments recently made by Conor McGregor on a live Q&A. Usman was shown a clip of McGregor insulting him and disregarding him as a competitor, calling Usman “a bum.”

Usman responded by claiming that during his reign as welterweight champion from 2018-2022, he offered McGregor a shot at his belt and “The Notorious” declined.

“If you wanted the opportunity to fight me, I gave Conor two opportunities to fight me,” Usman said. “Two opportunities, while I was champion. I gave him two opportunities to fight me. I told him, ‘Hey, if you want a crack at that third belt, who better?’ I was on the run that I was on, who better that he could come up and fight. He talked about it, he bounced back and forth, when he wanted to make his return he said, ‘Yeah, maybe I’ll go up and grab the third belt.’

“It is what it is, Conor. If you wanted to fight, you had your opportunity, but you didn’t. So to call me a bum is kind of disrespectful and I didn’t disrespect you when you were having your troubles, so I think it’s sometimes easier and it’s better-well, it’s not easier-it’s better that you put that whisky bottle down and actually come back to your wits and be a good father and a good role model.”

During Usman’s reign, McGregor spent much of his time preparing for a massive crossover boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., while also dealing with a litany of outside the cage issues including a suspension in 2018 after being involved in a post-fight brawl following a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 and two allegations of sexual assault in 2019.

Usman successfully defended his title five times before dropping it to Leon Edwards at UFC 278 in August 2022. He said that he has no problem with fighters issuing personal attacks to sell fights, but outside of promotion he doesn’t understand the need for unnecessary beef.

“If you’re trying to sell a fight, reserve it for that,” Usman said. “Do what you need to do to sell a fight. Because I’ve been in some of the most tumultuous fights there was. I fought Colby Covington, who left nothing in the kitchen when it came to promoting that fight, and he did. He said everything he needed to say. He cursed me, he said something about my family, something about my daughter, he said everything that he needed to say. But at the end of the day I understood that it was about him promoting the fight and we went in there and we settled it. Conor and I don’t have a fight on the table.

“What you need to be worried about is Michael Chandler because Michael Chandler’s training. Conor, you need to put that whisky bottle down and you need to get to training. This is not the time, this doesn’t call for you trolling. Why are you trolling me? I have nothing to do with you. When I was champion, I gave you an opportunity and you declined. You went silent. You didn’t say a word.”

Usman went on to call McGregor’s habit of diminishing other fighters’ accomplishments “disgraceful.” He warned that McGregor, who turns 36 in July, needs to be fully focused for his return to the cage when he fights Michael Chandler at UFC 303 on June 29.

If McGregor is off his game, Usman predicts a knockout win for Chandler.

“I’m no hater, I’m a realist,” Usman said. “Conor—Well, Conor McGregor that we grew to know and like in this sport and respected in the sport of martial arts has real skill, and if that Conor McGregor somehow emerges again, it’s a tough night for almost anybody in his weight division.

“But Michael Chandler is the real deal. We saw that Michael Chandler puts hands on you, chances are you might wake up asking what happened. So if Conor’s not prepared and he goes in there playing around, Michael Chandler will—They might have to bring some smelling salts for [McGregor] in that fight.”


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