Kamaru Usman says Jorge Masvidal rematch not personal, but plans to ‘break his will’ at UFC 261

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John Morgan and Ken Hathaway
·3 min read
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman says his second fight with Jorge Masvidal isn’t personal, he sounds almost believable.

Almost.

With three successful title defenses to his name, Usman has had two full years as champion to learn the role. Everyone that steps into the cage is going to have something to say, a reason why they deserve to possess the belt rather than you. No matter the pre-fight rhetoric, the job remains the same.

“It’s not personal at all,” Usman told MMA Junkie at Thursday’s UFC 261 pre-fight news conference. “If he’s making it personal, that’s on him. For me, it’s not personal. It’s all about business, and he’s that next guy that I’ve picked.”

Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) and Masvidal (35-14 MMA, 12-7 UFC) headlines Saturday’s UFC 261 event, which takes place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

The contest serves as a rematch of their July 2020 meeting, which Usman won comfortably via decision after Masvidal took the contest on just one week’s notice.

While Masvidal hasn’t fought since, Usman was willing to grant him a rematch. Masvidal’s status as a bona fide superstar of the sport likely factored into that decision, though Usman has said it’s simply because he doesn’t want “Gamebred” to have any of the excuses that were built into the first result, which was certainly contested under extraordinary circumstances on “UFC Fight Island.”

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But fight No. 2 is taking place in Florida, Masvidal’s backyard, and with a live crowd of 15,000 in the building – the first such opportunity for UFC fans in some 13 months. At Thursday’s pre-fight news conference, Usman got his share of heckling from the crowd, which applauded every work that came out of Masvidal’s mouth.

While he did his best to stay calm, cool and collected – Usman did get heated the more Masvidal spoke.

“Let’s just be honest here,” Usman said to Masvidal. “You’ve got 14 losses in your career, seven in the UFC. You’re 3-3 in your last six. You are sitting there today because I chose you.”

It’s a fair statement, but Masvidal certainly will be no pushover, even if he is hand-picked. Usman knows that, and under the tutelage of noted mind Trevor Wittman, he will certainly have a plan to deal damage while keeping himself safe.

After all, the real goal is to talk away with a belt still wrapped around your waist – an accomplishment that brings significant financial opportunities with it moving forward.

So is it actually personal? It’s difficult to know for sure, but Usman made it clear he’s got some goals in mind during their time in the cage.

“I didn’t feel like I broke his will (in the first fight), and on Saturday night, once I break his will, absolutely, I’ll be satisfied,” Usman said.

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