04 Aug - 
Zac Pauga expected to face Mohammed Usman in 'TUF' final: 'He knows I'm better than him'

LAS VEGAS – Zac Pauga and Mohammed Usman had history before joining Season 30 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The pair will battle for the “TUF 30” heavyweight crown on Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 40 main card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.

Pauga (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) says he and Usman (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) trained together prior to the show, so he wasn’t surprised to see him make the final. However, Pauga is confident that he’ll get the better of him when they fight.

“I know Mohammed really well, actually,” Pauga told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 40 media day. “We trained together for two years before the show and we’re on the same team on the show. He’s super explosive and he’s super strong, and so at heavyweight, he has what every heavyweight has. He can put your lights out at any second.

“I knew this is what the finals were going to be. Day 1, when we both got accepted to the show, I knew this is what it was going to be unless they made us fight each other on the show. And the knowledge favors me, in my opinion, because I know how fast he is, I know how strong he is, and that’s what he brings to the game. He knows I’m better than him, and there’s nothing he can do about that.”

All of Pauga’s fights prior to “TUF 30” were at light heavyweight, so he doesn’t see heavyweight in his foreseeable future. But if he wins the show, he plans on taking out specific heavyweights before making the move back down.

“There’s a lot of heavyweights that were signed during COVID that I’d really like to beat up and I don’t think are very good,” Pauga said. “But when I say that I want to be the UFC champion, I mean the light heavyweight champion.

“I’ll tell you their names right now: Parker Porter, Jake Collier. They got lucky that they had the fights when COVID was going and they just needed anyone who could show up and fight. And after I beat Mohammed, I would love to come in and beat those guys, too.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 40.