Kamaru Usman grinds his way to victory over Masvidal, retains title

UFC 251’s main event – the welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal – was more or less exactly what we expected. Usman grinded his way to a unanimous decision victory, spending much of the fight controlling Masvidal against the fence and scoring with foot stomps and body shots.

Gilbert Burns – who was originally slated to challenge Usman for the belt – was unable to fight after testing positive for COVID-19. Masvidal stepped in as a late replacement for Burns and turned in an admirable performance considering the circumstances (it being a short notice fight against a very tough matchup).

The first round had plenty of sparks, with Masvidal landing some crisp combinations. But Usman established his game plan early on, securing a takedown and later controlling Masvidal against the fence and scoring with strikes.

This would be a sign of things to come, as in the ensuing four rounds, Masvidal was never quite able to get into a rhythm with his striking. Usman controlled Masvidal in the clinch – occasionally taking him to the mat – and kept winning rounds.

UFC president Dana White says Burns is next in line for Usman. As for Masvidal, it remains to be seen where he goes from here. A rematch with Nate Diaz or a big money fight with Conor McGregor are both potentially huge fights from a business standpoint, and considering the circumstances, Masvidal’s stock is not down even after a decisive loss tonight.

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