To be siblings who compete in combat sports is to be part of a pretty exclusive club.
Everyone knows about the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate. There are also the “Pitbull” brothers in Bellator MMA, Patricio and Patricky Freire, as well as the UFC’s Shevchenko sisters and Brian and Chris Camozzi, who boast experience in both the UFC and GLORY Kickboxing.
But another pair of siblings is looking to make their mark in mixed martial arts in different ways – the UFC’s Kamaru Usman and his brother Mohammed, who makes his debut in Titan Fighting Championships on Friday, March 15.
Kamaru Usman will face UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 on Saturday, March 2, and his brother expects Usman to break Woodley’s will and take home the gold.
“Tyron is a great fighter, but I think he’s underestimating my brother,” Mohammed Usman said. “I don’t think Woodley understands pressure and that it makes it really hard to do anything. Pressure bursts pipes and it makes you do things you don’t want to do. Tyron needs to bring a shovel – he’s a tough guy and we know it’s not an easy fight, but we come to do whatever we need to do to win.”
Before Usman decided to join his brother in MMA, he played defensive end and outside linebacker at the University of Arizona after playing football and being an all-state wrestler in high school. It was while Usman trained for the NFL Draft in 2012 that he decided to make a change.
“I started training MMA with [Kamaru] and developed my own love for it,” Mohammed Usman said. “My trainer and I both realized it was the right time to convert over and make my move.”
Many athletes who don’t fight for a living use MMA training as a way to stay in shape and improve their skillset, and Usman recognized the aggressive aspect of both football and MMA right away.
“They’re both aggressive sports, so I wasn’t afraid of getting hit,” Usman said. “The technique aspect wasn’t as challenging either, but the conditioning part was different than what I did for football. When I played football, I could just eat and get big. You can’t do that in MMA, or else your muscles will just shut down.
“I also need to practice patience in MMA and be calm,” Usman added. “My Dad always preaches patience and told me not everyone is [Francis] Ngannou. People get caught up in the hitting and the knockouts, but we do whatever we need to do to win.”
Usman has picked up a few things from training with his brother, while still developing his own style. Usman made his pro debut in 2017 and won his first three fights for Tachi Palace Fights before losing via unanimous decision in his last fight for Victory Fighting Championship last year to Dontale Mayes, who also competed on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
“No one wants to lose, but it was a great learning experience and taught me a lot of things,” Usman said. “He was a good fighter and a tough opponent, and he picked his shots really well and ran around a lot. He did great, but it just fueled me to put in more work.”
Usman noted that he is working his striking leading up to his next fight for Titan FC against Frank Tate (6-6) and added that “it’s all repetition. I’ve been putting in rounds of hard work, while remembering to be able to relax and respond under pressure.”
“I’m a more well-rounded fighter and I’m excited to display my skills after a 6-month camp,” Usman said. “Putting in rounds really paid off, and I’m grateful that Titan believed in me and my abilities. It’s a great organization and I’ve watched a few of their shows and how they develop guys. I’m very excited, and I won’t let them down.”
Usman described Tate as a “tough guy and tough opponent” and said his goal is to “fight guys who put on a great show and put on a great show, and I want to be one of the best heavyweights in the world.”
“Every fight is a great fight, but right now my only goal is to beat Frank Tate,” Usman said.
Usman would like to thank Titan FC, his manager Brian Butler and his sponsors and teammates. Follow Usman on Instagram: @umohammed97.
Photo Credit: Tapology