Jose Caceres didn’t know much about Kamaru Usman when they were set to fight.
On May 24, 2013, on the prelims of CFA 11, Caceres who was 3-3 at the time was set to fight a 1-0 fighter in Usman. Caceres wasn’t aware of his wrestling background and instead only took the fight because he needed the money despite only being paid $1600 for the fight.
“It was his second pro fight that is all I remember. I went into the fight, I was coming off my third loss in a row and just practicing different aspects of martial arts. I was offered Kamaru Usman and I remember people telling me no one wanted to fight him and he was having a hard time getting a fight. To me, it felt like a set up as everyone knew he was supposed to win but I was preparing and knew I wouldn’t get f****d up. I knew he was really dangerous. But, I had no idea about his wrestling background. I wasn’t taking him lightly because I knew I needed to win. I ended up fighting him for $1600 bucks after paying out everybody and it was good.”
Early on in the fight, Caceres recalls it being a rather boring start. Both men didn’t know much about one another so it was a feeling-out process of sorts. Then, out of nowhere, Usman shot for a takedown which surprised Caceres.
Although now, many know of Usman’s wrestling background, Caceres didn’t. It was hard to find tape let alone know about the opponent so Caceres just figured it would be a striking match. Yet, after Kamaru Usman full mounted him, the now UFC welterweight champion made a crucial mistake that resulted in Caceres getting ahold of his back and eventually sinking in the rear-naked choke.
“We stood there and it looked like we were shadowboxing as we were feeling each other out,” Jose Caceres recalled about the fight with Usman. “I was trying to connect as I felt like I was the longer guy and was just trying to jab him. He swung his head back and dove in for the double leg. In my last couple of losses, I was taken down easily and I am like, ‘man, it is happening again.’
“He got me into full mount but I did my hip bump escape and used my legs to get around his body and threatened his leg with a leg lock. When he was worried about that, I took his back,” Caceres continued. “I remember Kamaru Usman was very strong and he picked me up and walked around but I slapped on the body triangle and was just fighting for the rear-naked choke and eventually got it. I remember I screamed ‘I’m the f*****g man.'”
Once Usman tapped, Jose Caceres, improved his record to 4-3 and was looking forward to the next fight. He knew it was a big win for him given the 1-0 fighter was training with Rashad Evans.
Yet, Caceres had no clue Usman would never lose a fight again and win 13 fights straight. His 14th in a row happened to be a dominant decision win over Tyron Woodley to become the new champion.
“No one knew he would go on to become the UFC champ and be this dominant fighter. What is crazy is I also fought Colby Covington two fights later and lost a decision,” Caceres said about Usman becoming the champ. “These guys were just coming into the game and I didn’t know much about them. I knew Kamaru had a great team and he was Rashad Evans’ protege so I wasn’t surprised he became the champ. But, at that time, I needed to make the money and made the money.”
When Usman became the new champ Caceres was quite happy to see “The Nigerian Nightmare” achieve UFC gold. He also continues to root for the 33-year-old as he hopes Usman doesn’t lose a fight again and his name will go down as the only person to ever defeat Kamaru Usman.
“I’m rooting for him. I also couldn’t be happier to see him have so much success,” Caceres concluded about Usman. “The fact that I am the only guy to beat him makes me feel fulfilled in a way.”
Jose Caceres has gone 11-8 since the win over Kamaru Usman. He has also fought notable opponents like Covington, Niko Price, Rodrigo Vargas, and Uros Jurisic among others. However, at 33-years-old, Caceres is still hoping to make it to the UFC one day and perhaps getting to rematch Usman all these years later.
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime