Kamaru Usman did what he had to against Jorge Masvidal to retain his welterweight championship—boxed dirty against the cage and ultimately controlled the fight’s pace.
Even on a six-day notice, Usman showed his dominance and ability to adapt to a different opponent. He showed the world he truly is one of the greats, despite people dabbing him as boring. Did he earn your respect, yet?
Ultimately, Usman defeated Masvidal via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) in UFC 251 on Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Fight Island.
Usman’s original opponent, Gilbert Burns, tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3, hours before the UFC charter was set to leave Las Vegas for Abu Dhabi. It was Masvidal that saved UFC 251 and gave fans one of the most stacked fight cards of 2020, even in unprecedented circumstances.
Despite the two foes paying respect to one another after the fight agreeing to “run it back,” UFC president Dana White said Burns is next for Usman.
“I think that Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman is go to be a really, really good fight,” White said.
Usman’s 12 straight wins ties lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for the longest active winning streak in the UFC. That figure also ties Georges St-Pierre for the longest winning streak in UFC welterweight history.
Masvidal came out fast, throwing heavy punches while being aggressive. Even when Usman connected on strikes, Masvidal was unaffected, trying to finish the fight in the early rounds, as the later rounds caught up to his conditioning.
“It played out the way I thought it might. I thought if Jorge didn’t catch him with something, that’s the way the fight would go,” White said after the fight. “[Masvidal’s] takedown defense was unbelievable. He would get taken down and get back up against Usman, which is tough to do. He did it for five rounds and did what he could do. Usman is a beast, man.”
Usman (17-1) is undefeated in the UFC. In his last fight, he scored a fifth-round TKO over Colby Covington at UFC 245 in December.
Masvidal (35-14) has had an unbelievable journey to his first title fight. He knocked out Darren Till and Ben Askren, while TKO’ing Nate Diaz within eight months last year. The five-second finish of Askren was the quickest in UFC history.
Before the main event, Alex Volkanovski beat Max Holloway via split decision. Petr Yan finished Jose Aldo in the fifth round. Rose Namajunas defeated Jessica Andrade via slipt decision. And Amanda Ribas submitted Paige VanZant via armbar in the first round.
Fight Island returns to action July 15, 18 and 25. Following those dates, the UFC will return to the United States for a pair of announced cards, including UFC 252, headlined by a heavyweight championship fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.