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Featured Image Credit: PA/Jake Paul
"It's not good for him to take the type of beating that he would take from me" - A chilling warning by Kamaru Usman, who has his eyes on Conor McGregor ahead of his anticipated UFC return. But 'The Nigerian Nightmare' is also looking beyond the MMA world for future opponents, teasing a mega boxing bout against Canelo Alvarez.
In his own words, Usman has lapped his UFC rivals. He's beaten Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington twice each in four of his last five Octagon outings.
So, naturally, he's looking for fresh challengers - but make no mistake, he does love a rematch.
"I'm not necessarily sick of them because the only good thing about rematches, you've experienced something before. And experience is the best teacher. So, with experience, I somewhat know what to expect," he said exclusively to SPORTbible.
"But I don't just fight the guys' skills and their specialty. I'm successful because I do something better than most guys. And I don't think people realise that. But I would hope it's [Leon] Edwards. I think he's done a great job and I think he's put himself in that position to get a shot."
If Usman does meet Edwards next and beats him again, then new faces could be earning their shot at UFC welterweight gold. Enter Khamzat Chimaev who has burst onto the scene since making his UFC debut in 2020.
Usman, though, isn't convinced by 'Borz' but admits he's 'scary' having ran through his opponents in devastating fashion.
"I think he's doing a good job with the opposition he's been presented so far," he added. "I do think he's a couple of fights away because I look at Edwards and he hasn't lost to anyone since he fought me over six years ago. And now he's in the position to get a title shot. It's kind of difficult to just cut everyone out.
"You got guys like [Vicente] Luque, [Belal] Muhammad, [Gilbert] Burns is still there; Covington is still there. When you've got guys like this, that you've never faced and you just want to skip them and fight for the title. It seems a little bit unfair to the rest of the guys in the division."
On Chimaev's skillset, he stated: "I think he's a good competitor. Obviously, we haven't seen him tested. But I think he's a good competitor. He's scary with what he's done with even though there was minimal opposition. He's done what he was supposed to do with those guys and that's big."
Boxing Canelo seems farfetched. UFC president Dana White isn't buying it, but Usman wants to test himself against the Mexican sensation who, in fairness, hasn't categorically dismissed a Mayweather vs. McGregor-esque money spinning showdown.
Asked about the possibility of facing Canelo in the ring, the MMA star replied: "Yes! I believe it can for sure. If there's a right amount. If it makes money for the company. If it makes dollars, it makes sense.
"So, this is something that I would love to do. I want to test myself in that way and I want to be scared again in that one. Not to say I'm not scared when I fight these guys, I am scared. But to go in there with that guy. It's scary. And I definitely thrive in those situations.
"It definitely could happen. He's expressed his interest in it. All it is you pick up a phone, make the call let's get it going. But if you can't do that, then what's the point."
Canelo's not the only boxer supposedly on Usman's radar, with Jake Paul previously calling for a showdown against the UFC welterweight king.
However, Usman isn't convinced 'The Problem Child' brings the necessary numbers to the table to make the fight a reality.
Quizzed about fighting the YouTuber-turned-boxer, he joked: "Yes, just to kick his butt. We're a different breed of fighters and now he's in a different era of combat sport.
"Jake Paul doesn't equate to money. Jake Paul equates to eyes, yes, of course you get eyes on you because all these kids and the new age that follow him.
"But his last three fights combined didn't do my pay-per-view numbers for my last fight, so if he can't guarantee me eight figures there's no point in even talking to me about it."
Paul hasn't just challenged a slew of UFC stars, but he's also become an advocate for improving fighter pay.
Though the sincerity of Paul's endevaour to increase UFC fighter pay has been questioned by Usman, who's unsure whether his intentions are for real or not.
"To be honest, I don't know. It could be genuine, but, to me, it really feels like he's just looking for something to say to help feed his narrative and keep his name out there. So, yeah, I don't know. But if he's really genuine about it, then, of course, I love it. I appreciate it."
While Canelo and Paul are blockbuster ventures away from the famed Octagon, an in-house UFC showdown has been talked up with McGregor wanting Usman next upon his comeback.
Conor McGregor believes he should fight Kamaru Usman on his return to action. pic.twitter.com/IfeSvhVMYs— The Mac Life (@TheMacLife) March 18, 2022
Though Usman has warned McGregor from stepping up to 170lbs, saying he'd deliver a beating.
"Conor is in a state of his life to the position to where he's just all about talk. It's just all talk, all talk. And I don't want to be in that position. He's a big enough star, yes, of course, that would be great. That's a quick challenge.
"But I just don't think it's good for him. The way that he approaches the game, and it's not good for him to take the type of beating that he would take from me. It's not great for him.
"I think he should just stick to what he's doing and find something to do that's going to help him that's going to give him that peace and satisfaction. By wanting to fight a guy like myself or champion like myself, it's not good for Conor McGregor.
"We've talked about it a few times. He's called 'Oh, yeah, we'll do this'. He'll poke fun and tweet, but I'll respond and then he goes silent which lets me know where he recognises what position he's in, and he knows there's a line."
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