Despite never tasting defeat in the Octagon in his career and being the reigning and defending UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman is not regarded as one of the top three fighters in the world.
Even crazier, having wins over Demian Maia, former UFC champions Rafael dos Anjos and Tyron Woodley on his resume, many people do not talk about Usman even being one of the best welterweights of all-time. Fast forward to Saturday night where Usman defended his UFC strap against Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal in the main event for UFC 251 at the place the UFC dubbed “Fight Island.” on six days’ notice.
Usman expected to face Gilbert Burns in the main event before Burns was forced out of the fight after testing positive for COVID-19 on July 3. Usman was now ready for a man in, Masvidal whose stock is so high, he was introduced as one of the cover boys for the UFC’s upcoming video game UFC4 by EA Sports on Saturday.
Masvidal came out aggressively as expected and had his moments early, winning the first round on one judge’s score card thanks to being sharper and better on the feet. Once the second round began Usman does what Usman does landing five takedowns, delivering foot stomps, body shots, and shoulder strikes while trapping Masvidal in clinches against the cage and punishing him with vicious shots to the body.
As Usman defeated Masvidal via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46); Vegas Sports Daily scored it 49-46 giving Masvidal only Round 1.
“I knew Jorge was tough. I’ve always said it, minus all the trash talking and all the things that went on, which I know largely wasn’t him. It was the representative and all this stuff behind the scenes. Jorge is a guy and I give him credit for that,” said Usman. “They call him Gamebred for a reason. He’s always game to fight. I’m just levels better. I have more tools in the toolbox and when I need to pull them out, I can pull them out and use them.”
Even while pulling out his toolbox to systematically breakdown Masvidal, many casual fans and some people on social media criticized the champ for not trying to trade with Masvidal who is currently tabbed as the UFC’s “BMF” champ. These people, to put it bluntly, don’t respect greatness as Usman shutdown one of the best strikers in the world on six days’ notice and made it look easy by installing a game and dictating the terms of the fight like the champion he is.
Although pleased by his performance and happy to defend his belt for the second time in seven months, Usman is open to seeing Masvidal again down the road and feels he has levels to his game the world still hasn’t seen.
“He’s a veteran a crafty veteran, as he has a lot of tricks to the untrained eye and I would love to do the fight again especially when you see my last two fights where I picked guys apart,” Usman said during his post-fight press conference. “I need to showcase what all I have in the toolbox, and I would like to do that with a lot more time.”
With the win, Usman tied former champion Georges St-Pierre for the most consecutive wins in the welterweight division with 12. Anyone who knows MMA knows when you are tying records by GSP, you are doing some historical stuff.
Many might not like Usman’s style of fighting, but you have to be a fool to not realize he’s a great fighter who’s only starting to reach his full potential and truly display his greatness.