Kamaru Usman rolls through Jorge Masvidal to retain title at UFC 251

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·3 min read

It didn’t take a genius to figure how Kamaru Usman was going to try to attack Jorge Masvidal on Saturday when they met at Flash Forum in the main event of UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi for Usman’s welterweight title.

Usman is a former national champion collegiate wrestler who had a full training camp. Masvidal took the fight on six days’ notice, and though he was in the gym most of the time, he wasn’t preparing specifically for a fight.

The result, then, was hardly surprising. Their grudge match turned into a one-sided beatdown, as Usman’s wrestling and clinch work carried the way as he rolled to a unanimous decision victory.

Judges scored it 50-45 twice and 49-46 for the champion, who won his 16th in a row overall and his 12th in succession in the UFC. Yahoo Sports scored it 49-46 for Usman, giving Masvidal only the first round.

After all the bitter talk and Masvidal promising to “baptize” Usman, they embraced after the fight and seemed to end their feud. Masvidal accepted the fight on Sunday after Gilbert Burns had to pull out because of a positive test for COVID-19.

“‘Gamebred’ is the biggest, baddest dude out there right now,” said Usman, who scored five takedowns and had 10:06 of clinch control time. “I had to take six years to prepare for him on six days’ notice. I know a lot was made on him taking the fight on short notice, but he was preparing. All these guys are preparing for one guy, and that’s me at the top of the mountain.

“I had to make a mental shift. I trained for Gilbert and I had a completely different game plan. I had a lot of little things coming into the fight, but those are no excuse. ‘Gamebred’ is tough and he showed it out there. He took a lot of big elbows down there on the bottom but he kept getting up, kept fighting and didn’t quit.”

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: Kamaru Usman of Nigeria celebrates after his victory over Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: Kamaru Usman of Nigeria celebrates after his victory over Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Much of the fight was spent with the two locked against the cage and Usman stomping Masvidal’s feet. There was never the fireworks at range that Masvidal fans had been expecting because Usman snuffed it completely.

Usman has now beaten Masvidal, Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley, Leon Edwards and Rafael dos Anjos, among others. He’s among the best welterweights the UFC has ever had.

He will likely fight his teammate, Burns, next, as UFC president Dana White said Burns is the No. 1 contender.

Whoever faces Usman, though, will need a complete game to pull it off because there are few, if any, holes in the Nigerian’s game.

More UFC 251 coverage from Yahoo Sports: