Why Kamaru Usman started training in a gi
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru 'The Nigerian Nightmare' Usman lost just once, in only his second pro fight, vs. Jose Caceres in May of 2013. It ended up being a huge lesson, as he explained during a recent appearance on the JRE MMA Show.
“I have one loss and it was in my second fight," said Usman as transcribed by Callum Medcraft for BJJ.com.ua. "At that point I was a wrestler who could just go in, take everyone down and hold them down for three rounds. No one really wanted to fight me then so I took the fight on short notice and – being honest with you – I’d never done any jiu-jitsu back then. I just figured I could wrestle my way through anything and just thought, ‘f*** these guys, these are low-level guys.’
“I get in the fight, I throw a one-two, then his legs are right there so I hit him with a double. Within 15 seconds I’m in full mount, not really knowing what I’m doing but I’m trying to throw punches. I think Caceres is like 6ft 2 or something like that – he’s got long limbs. He throws his legs around my body, and I’d never seen any s*** like that before.
“I started to panic and thought I needed to get out, so I did the wrong thing and turned my body to get up and walk away. He followed me and just climbed up on my back; we’re not even sweaty yet. I hold him off for about a minute and a half trying to fight off this choke; I knew I couldn’t let him down to the floor because I didn’t really know a defense on the ground. He knew what he was doing and me standing up like that started to make my feet shaky. I started to get full of adrenaline when I realized, I was about to lose.
“We had a commission meeting before the fight and I was told if I got choked unconscious I wouldn’t be able to fight for six months. I’m a tough guy, so in my mind I wasn’t going to tap – he needed to put me to sleep. But, it took me eight months to get that fight, and I was broke as shit, so I started thinking there’s no way I couldn’t fight for another six months. I f***ing tapped. I walked out of that fight and just paced in the back for like two hours.”
“Ever since the loss, I got a f***ing gi. I’d never had a gi before, but I started training with Jorge Santiago my jiu-jitsu coach every f***ing morning. He just gave me my black belt after my last fight. I never worried about that. Yes, I was beating up blue belts before I was even a white belt because I knew how to grapple through certain things, but I never had those jiu-jitsu skills. Santiago kept challenging me and pushing me, so when I got my purple belt I felt like he was alerting other people of what to expect when we were rolling.”
“So, Jorge asked me to come to the gym after the fight and I just thought he wanted me to take pictures with people or something like that, but he freaking gave me my black belt. That thing just floored me. I never expected it; I just wanted to be a martial artist, learn some stuff and compete. I never knew I would get my black belt.”