Kamaru Usman has plenty of experience dealing with hate from MMA fans, and he wants to use it to help out his younger brother, Mohammed.
Mohammed will soon join Kamaru in the UFC thanks to his second-round KO of Zac Pauga in The Ultimate Fighter finale earlier this month. The 33-year-old heavyweight, the junior of Kamaru by two years, will enter the promotion with an 8-2 record. Prior to TUF, Mohammed fought once in the PFL, losing to Brandon Sayles.
Kamaru was of course cageside for Mohammed’s TUF-winning KO, and as a seasoned UFC veteran with plenty of experience dealing with the often-absurd expectations of fans, he’ll have a good deal of advice to impart to his younger brother as he prepares to enter the UFC.
Speaking to press in the lead up to his title defense against Leon Edwards at UFC 278 this weekend, Kamau spoke about his experience and motivations when he first entered the UFC, and how he’s matured over the years to deal with hate from fans.
“I didn’t get into [MMA] to be famous or rich by any means…I mean I wanted to make some money; take that back, I wanted some money. But I got into it and it wasn’t for the fans to like me…but then I got into and I’m like, you know, if I’m doing something that’s this hard, and people are just talking shit about it. You know, even if you do it it’s not enough, they don’t care how well you do it, they still talk shit to you…and it bothered me,” said Kamaru.
A flashpoint in Kamaru’s experience dealing with negative feedback, he says, came in the aftermath of his 2018 victory over Emil Weber Meek. Following that win, “The Nigerian Nightmare” tweeted that “even at 30% health,” he was “still able to dominate” Meek to get a unanimous decision victory. Usman received wide backlash for these remarks, including from UFC President Dana White himself.
“[The backlash from fans] bothered me the most when I fought Emil Meek in St. Louis, and I made a comment after the fight which was taken the wrong way, and Dana commented on it, and I felt like I lost the fight. I felt so shitty I stayed away from social media for a week and it hurt me so bad, even after a win,” said Usman.
Kamaru says that this experience has helped him mature and cope with the hate from fans—which is something he’ll be looking to impart to his brother Mohammed.
“So I took some time off and in that process of healing I matured so much. In the last four or five years I’ve grown exponentially, mentally, and I’m at the point where I just don’t give a shit. Why am I going to worry about this dude on his keyboard saying this, tweeting this; bro, you don’t pay my bills.
“My daughter has got to go to school, you don’t pay for her lunch. So if they’re not doing it, why am I worried about their opinion? So it took a lot of growing and…my brother now is in a position where he’s coming into the UFC and he hasn’t really experienced what MMA fans are, so I’m sure me and him are going to be having a talk soon,” said Kamaru.
It remains to be seen if Muhammed can achieve the same glittering success of Kamaru’s UFC career. But so far, he’s followed his elder brother’s example to a tee. Back in 2015, Kamaru won his TUF finale with a second-round finish of Hayder Hassan. He made his UFC debut a few months later and now after 14 fights in the promotion, he’s yet to taste defeat.
What do you think about Kamaru Usman preparing his brother Mohammed for the haters?