UFC 278 takes place on Saturday at Vivint Arena and will be broadcast on ESPN/ABC and ESPN+. In the main event, welterweight champion Usman (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) will defend his title against challenger Leon Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC).
Usman denies this accusation, saying that he has not compromised himself while enjoying the benefits he has earned through his hard work in the octagon. Instead, he has loftier ambitions and has publicly stated that one day he hopes to have “the bankroll” of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the highest-grossing actor in the world.
“I was in a movie and everyone says, ‘He Hollywood now,’” Usman told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at UFC 278 media day. “When I was in college eating $5 Little Caesars pizza and I was surviving off of that for two days, and eating ramen noodles for a whole week, you know what I did? I dreamt of getting to a point where I didn’t have to do that. To where I could walk into any steakhouse wherever I wanted and tell my mom and dad, ‘You guys want to go there? I got you. Let’s go there. You want to fly private? I got you.’ I always dreamt of that and always wanted that. So I put the work in to get to that point. To get to the point where I wanted silk shirts. … I always wanted that.
“I put the work in and I got that. But that doesn’t stop me. I want to be bigger than Dwayne Johnson. I’m not bigger than him, so that means I need more work. So this notion of people who say, ‘You’re Hollywood now. It’s going to his head.’ If he’s thinking that, it’s the biggest misconception – it’ll be a short night for him come Saturday night.”
At UFC 278, Usman is going up against an old adversary in Edwards. In December 2015, at UFC on FOX 17, he won a unanimous decision over the British opponent. In spite of all the changes that have taken place in the intervening years, Usman has promised that he would always leave the octagon with his hand in the air.
“He knows what’s going to happen, and I know what’s going to happen,” Usman said. “He’s the next guy up, so he’s the biggest, baddest dude. According to everybody, he’s the biggest, baddest dude. And I think skill-wise he’s very, very good.”
For Usman, UFC 278 is a watershed moment. After beginning his UFC career with 15 straight victories, he will now seek to tie Anderson Silva for the record of longest winning streak in UFC history.
“It’s a special accomplishment,” Usman said. “It is special. It’s one of those things that just lets you know all the work that you’ve put in over the years. All the training, all the guidance from coaches and my team to get to the point where – Anderson Silva was doing this sport before I got into the sport. I remember when I started watching UFC that was the man. That was the guy to watch. Now being in the position to tie that record, it means a lot to me.”