Kamaru Usman kept his UFC record perfect and retained his welterweight title by beating Jorge Masvidal in the main event of the UFC 251. It was a unanimous decision of the judges, who didn’t have a tough call to make.
Usman (17-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) was in control throughout the entire contest, pressuring the rival and dictating the tempo. He would use the fact that his rival didn’t have proper preparation for this event, spending just six days training for it. During that period, Masvidal was mostly spending time on cutting 22 extra pounds he had.
"Gamebred is the biggest, baddest dude out there now and had to prepare on six days notice!" 😤@USMAN84kg pays respect to @GamebredFighter after their UFC title fight… #UFC251 pic.twitter.com/g366P3nM9I
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) July 12, 2020
To remind you, after Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19, Gamebred stepped in to replace the Brazilian, even though he didn’t have too much time. Because of this, Usman issued praises in his direction following the end of the battle.
“‘Gamebred’ is the biggest, baddest dude out there right now, and I had to switch gears and prepare for him on six days’ notice,” Usman said. “I had to make a mental shift. I trained for Gilbert. I had a completely different game plan. … ‘Gamebred’ is tough, and he showed it out there. He took a lot of big elbows, and he didn’t quit.”
Apart from some flashes, and the part of the first round, Masvidal was inferior throughout the entire contest. Usman forced him to spend more than 10 minutes defending in the clinch and was also scoring several takedowns.
In the latter stages of the match, the Nigerian Nightmare did land a few elbows to Gamebred’s head, after putting the rival on his back. The champ’s tactics were pretty clear, grind his way in the clinch, and looking for a chance to take down the American, who defended well most of the time while being on the canvas.
“Masvidal’s takedown defense was unbelievable. He would get taken down and get back up against Usman, which is tough to do,” said Dana White following the match.
In the meantime, Kamaru was staying away from Masvidal in the standup, because he received several solid punches in the first round. That was a reminder that although Gamebred isn’t prepared correctly, he is still faster than Usman.
It seems that the challenger knew that he couldn’t win this battle, but he didn’t want to go down and suffer a stoppage defeat. The last time he experienced that was in 2009 against Toby Imada, and it was a triangle choke.
Meanwhile, Usman posted his fifth decision win over the last six events, proving that he is a tactical and physical master. One of the most relentless guys in the organization recorded 19 straight victories, 12 of them in the UFC. He would tie Georges St. Pierre’s record for the welterweight division, and also catch up Khabib Nurmagomedov for the longest active streak in the UFC.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 12, 2020
Uo next for him is Gilbert Burns. Durinho was the No.1 challenger before this, and Dana White confirmed this on two occasions, before and after the UFC 251.
“I think that Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman is going to be a really, really good fight,” White said.
The Brazilian would defeat Tyron Woodley recently, trashing the former champ against whom Usman won the title. In that match, Burns was more than convincing from the opening bell up until the end, posting a win with a unanimous decision.
It is expected to have more information about that match pretty soon, but all the experts and insiders are projecting it for the late part of this year. The rumors appeared that the winner of that one would give Masvidal the opportunity to fight for the title once again, only this time with enough time to prepare.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.