Kamaru Usman did what he does best in the main event of UFC 251 and dominated Jorge Masvidal to defend his title for the second time.
The title fight that was, then wasn’t, then was again. Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Mavidal has been talked about for the better part of 2020. The two have clashed in public, or at least come close. Yet after a contract dispute with the UFC, “Gamebred” declined the fight, which was subsequently awarded to the surging Gilbert Burns at UFC 251.
Fate had other ideas. A positive COVID-19 test saw Burns bounced from the UFC 251 card. The promotion then turned to Masvidal, with a better offer, presumably. And just like that, one of the most anticipated fights of 2020 was back on.
Just prior to the UFC 251 main event, Masvidal was named one of the cover athletes for EA Sports’ UFC 4. A bit of a gamble on the eve of what could rightfully be called the biggest fight of his lengthy career. Especially given the Florida-based fighter took the bout on six day’s notice.
But then, that’s the allure of Masvidal, who holds the UFC’s “BMF” title. He’s as game as they come. It’s in the name. Never mind that Kamaru Usman has appeared unstoppable since entering the UFC.
Masvidal started the fight with a flurry of kicks and avoided a vicious overhand from Usman. Another kick came through and was caught by Usman, who drove Masvidal to the ground. Masvidal stayed busy on bottom, throwing elbows at Usman who threw a couple big shots. Usman was pushed away by a few punches and upkicks by Masvidal, but scrambled to keep him down with a headlock. Masvidal popped free and got back to work on the feet, pushing a hard pace with his strikes. Usman attempted to bring Masvidal down several times, but was only able to do so once briefly. The final minute of the round featured both fighters winging overhands, with Usman perhaps being wobbled momentarily.
Usman started the second round with a single-leg attempt that Masvidal rolled out of. Usman then pushed him against the cage. Masvidal landed an elbow that caused Usman to back away, then come right back in. Usman stepped back and landed a solid one-two, then got back into the clinch. The clinching might have been wearing Masvidal down, but his smile wouldn’t reveal that. With 30 seconds left, Masvidal landed a combination after getting his back of the cage. Usman went to the body with a strike, which he’d been targeting during the fight. Masvidal landed a hard kick before the round came to a close.
Usman came out more aggressive in the third round as Masvidal had two cuts above his eyes from accidental headbutts. He shot in for a double-leg, but Masvidal stayed standing and they transitioned to a clinch against the cage. An uppercut by Usman grazed Masvidal below the belt and action was stopped for a couple minutes. Once they resumed, Usman ducked under a punch and drove Masvidal to the canvas with a blast double-leg. Masvidal worked his way up against the cage, but Usman stayed on him and threw him down into side control. Masvidal tried to roll out, but ended up in side control on the opposite side. Usman was eventually forced to full guard after landing a big elbow and rode out the round on top.
Usman kicked off the fourth round with a huge body kick, then he reached down for a single-leg and drove Masvidal to the cage. He dropped down for a double-leg and got Masvidal down again. Masvidal worked his way up, then broke free. Usman kept the pressure on and landed a pair of beautiful left hands. When the round came to a close, the fighters exchanged some words before going to their respective corners.
Usman continued to push the pace in the final round. With his back against the cage, Masvidal landed a slick counter punch, but Usman dropped down for a takedown and pulled Masvidal away from the cage. Masvidal exploded, but Usman stayed on him like glue. A thorough, dominant performance by the champion.
Kamaru Usman def. Jorge Masvidal by Unanimous Decision (50-45 x2, 49-46)