At an ungodly hour local time, Kamaru Usman was the last fighter from UFC 251 to appear at the event’s media day.
Consider that a preview for Usman’s title fight against Jorge Masvidal on Saturday. While the PPV card will kick off at the usual time for those in the west, the event is taking pace on Fight Island. Which by now you may have heard is actually Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi, of course, is eight hours ahead of Eastern Time. When the main event hits the octagon on Saturday night, it will be well into Sunday morning.
“That’s going to be a little tough,” Usman admitted to media outlets including Cageside Press at the media day Thursday. The champion explained however that early morning training sessions were not a problem for him. “I am definitely a morning person. For me, it doesn’t really matter, morning or night, I can do them both. It just depends on what the task at hand is. If I know I have an early boxing session, maybe 6AM or 7AM, that’s not a problem for me. I’m going to get up and I’m going to go get it done.”
Of course, it’s not training session come Saturday. And Jorge Masvidal is not your average training partner. But Usman intends to treat him like any other fighter. And he’s more than prepared for five rounds, which Masvidal has only gone a couple of times in his career.
In fact Usman prefers a drawn out fight. And he’s happy to do it in an empty arena.
“As a fighter, there’s a different fight that you fight with yourself internally and mentally when you’re fighting somebody. Sometimes you can kind of get lost in it when you’re in a stadium full of 20,000 people and that can actually uplift you. Or sometimes it can be a detriment,” he explained. “But when you have to fight that fight, there’s no other voices but that voice in your head.”
That will be different in the cavernous setting of the empty arena on Fight Island. “Now you’ve got a guy beating your ass, and he’s talking to you and telling you things, and letting it be known, his dominance over you,” continued Usman. “It’s another level of breaking somebody mentally. There’s a reason why I love to break guys over the course of an entire fight. Because you land a quick punch and you knock a guy out in the first round, and the guy can carry on in his career saying ‘aww man, if I had just protected myself against this, I got caught, that was it, I got caught in this submission, I didn’t know,’ this and that, blah blah blah, there’s different types of excuses.”
“When you beat their ass from start to finish the whole time and outclass them completely, it breaks them internally. It takes something away from them that they can never gain back. That’s a fight that they don’t want to fight,” he finished.
UFC 251 takes place this Saturday, July 11 on Fight Island (Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs live on PPV.