Before staking his claim as one of the best mixed martial artists in UFC history, welterweight champion and pound-for-pound No. 1 Kamaru Usman dominated the collegiate scene, wrestling for the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
As a Division II wrestler competing at 174 pounds, Usman earned all-American status three consecutive years on his way to becoming a two-time NCAA Division II National finalist, earning bronze in 2008 in Cedar Rapids and silver in 2009 in Houston.
While amassing 115 career wins at Nebraska-Kearney, the ninth most in program history, despite only competing at the school for three seasons, Usman finally earned gold at the top of the podium his senior year.
Usman also holds two of the top three highest single season win totals in program history, recording 45 wins in the 2008-09 season and 44 in 2009-10. This helped lead Nebraska-Kearney to a Division II National title as a team in 2008.
On Saturday, July 30, Usman was recognized for his collegiate wrestling accomplishments, receiving the honor of being inducted into the Jim Koch Division II Hall of Fame.
After graduation, Usman pursued mixed martial arts, moving around different promotions before receiving a life changing opportunity to compete on "The Ultimate Fighter." Defeating Michael Graves and Steve Carl on the show, Usman successfully won the competition by submitting Hayder Hassan at "The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians" finale.
That win marked Usman's first of 15 consecutive wins inside the octagon. Utilizing his wrestling throughout his career to dominate his opponents, Usman climbed his way to the top of the welterweight division and was given his first shot at UFC gold at UFC 235 in March of 2019 against Tyron Woodley.
In a completely one-sided performance, Usman recorded two takedowns, racked up over 18 minutes of control time and out struck the former champion 336-60. His dominance as a wrestler helped hide his new-found abilities as a striker, opening more opportunities to let his hands fly while his opponents were worried about being taken down. In three of his next four bouts, Usman earned KO victories against Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal.
Two weeks after watching his brother Mohammed Usman follow in his footsteps by winning "The Ultimate Fighter: Team Peña vs Team Nunes," Usman headlines UFC's return to Salt Lake City at "UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards" in Vivint Arena on August 20.
A rematch seven years in the making, Usman welcomes No. 2 contender Leon Edwards to the octagon in search of his sixth successful title defense. With a victory, Usman could match Anderson Silva's win streak record of 16.
This story first published at UFC.com.