Kamaru Usman is making up for lost time.
The 31-year-old Nigerian takes on Demian Maia Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 129, looking to run his win streak to 11 in a row.
Usman joining the UFC in 2015 after winning The Ultimate Fighter with a second round arm-triangle submission on Hayder Hassan. Quickly, and with a purpose, he has scored six wins since.
Back in January, Usman (12-1) set himself up for this showdown with Maia – though it was first Santiago Ponzinibbio until an injury forced the change – by earning a hard-fought decision vs. Emil Weber Meek.
That performance came on the heels of his first knockout inside the Octagon vs. Sergio Moraes last September in just under three minutes.
During his time on TUF, Usman earned two decisions, taking care of former World Series of Fighting champion Steve Carl and Michael Graves.
While he hasn’t been a finish-machine, the fact that he’s gone the distance and come out on top each time shows maturity for someone who started in MMA in 2012.
Prior to combat sports, Usman was a standout high school wrestler who later went on to compete for the University of Nebraska-Kearney, earning NCAA Div. II All-American honors for three years. He also won a national title his senior season and was a member of the University World Team for wrestling in 2010.
With that background, MMA was the perfect transition for Usman.
Now, he gets to share the Octagon with a two-time title challenger in Maia, someone that loves taking the fight to the ground. Maia, though, has had troubles with wrestlers Colby Covington and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in his last two fights – and it’s pretty easy to see Usman following the blueprints of those two fighters.
UFC Fight Night 129 takes place live on FOX Sports 1 from Santiago, Chile Saturday night.