Taking a welterweight title fight against one of the most smothering forces on the UFC’s roster today is admirable. Taking that fight on just six day’s notice is even more so.
The always popular, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal drafted into last night’s UFC 251 headliner opposite immovable object, Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman, and after a promising start, ultimately came up short. Utilising some decent entries and swinging hooks in the opening-frame, Masvidal narrowly took the round, despite finding himself on his back via a rushing double-leg.
From the second-round onward, the pressure, clinch work, head position, and classic Marco Ruas foot-stomps from Usman seem him home and hosed to a unanimous decision win. 50-45 (x2), and 49-46 – Usman remains the pack leader at 170-pounds, however, with five rounds now shared with the titleholder, Masvidal spoke of a “formula” he’s now attained as he attempts to earn a title rematch.
Speaking at the Fight Island event’s post-fight press conference, a dejected and deflated Masvidal criticised his own performance, noted the need of a sizeable gas-tank – but failed to make any excuses after his incredible three-fight rise came to an end.
“I hate coming up short,” Masvidal explained. “I’m not going to make no excuses. He was the better man tonight. There were some areas where I didn’t give him enough credit, and there were some areas I felt with a better training camp I could definitely surprise hum. I think I showed a lot of my wrestling on six days’ notice that I’m not too easy to take down and to hold down on the ground.“
From sixteen attempted takedowns, Usman scored five against the Floridian – with Masvidal noting how clinch exchanges really mitigated any of his early striking success.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” Masvidal said. “I tried to fight in spots, since I didn’t feel my gas tank was the greatest. He fought in better spots. Right when I’d get loose and open up, he was able to clinch me up and take it back into his world. So, I’m not going to take anything away from him. He won fair and square. I’ll do whatever it takes to get back in front of that man and compete again and get my hand raised.“
While an immediate rematch against Usman is an unlikely scenario given the original booking between the recently switched Trevor Wittman trainee, and streaking contender, Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns, Masvidal is eager to get that title shot once more. Whether he’s forced to prove his status against the often floated, Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, or even Nate Diaz – the 35-year-old now believes he’s got the formula to dethrone the current champion.
“I’ve got a good formula in my head though on how to beat him the next time,” Masvidal explained. “I thought I had the formula. Now, I know the formula – it takes a lot of gas tank, a lot of conditioning, a lot more wrestling rounds with high-level guys. So, I definitely got a square root on how to beat this guy.“
Last night’s defeat to Usman marked his first loss in three, following his victory over the aforementioned, Diaz – where he earned the symbolic BMF championship. Prior to that date last November, Masvidal lodged the fastest knockout in promotional history; shocking the then-undefeated, Ben Askren with a five-second flying knee. Beginning his ‘redemption’ – Masvidal, on enemy territory at UFC Fight Night London last March, the American Top Team product finished Darren Till with a second-round switch hook.