While the upcoming UFC 249 pay-per-view (PPV) card has been officially suspended, fight fans may not know that the promotion nearly booked a welterweight title fight between champion Kamaru Usman and top contender Jorge Masvidal for the April 18th event.
Following the withdrawal of Khabib Nurmagomedov from UFC 249’s main event UFC president Dana White scrambled to find an alternative headliner. This was in addition to everything else White had to deal with due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, the promotion settled on an interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje as the new UFC 249 headliner.
However, Masvidal is now saying that a deal was on the table to have him challenge Usman for the 170-pound crown at UFC 249, which would support the early rumors. Unfortunately, money was a leading factor in why the fight never materialized and negotiations eventually fizzled out, paving the way for Ferguson vs. Gaethje.
“There was a deal on the table, but when the full deal and the whole extent of it got brought through and how it was going to play out, the budget really wasn’t there in a way for what we were asking,” Masvidal told BT Sport. “The price tag that I put out there, they didn’t wanna pay. This other guy, who knows if he was in or not, but my price wasn’t met. And for the risk-to-reward factor, I wanted to get compensated and the compensation wasn’t really there.”
Luckily for fight fans, Masvidal still believes a deal will get done for later this year that will put him in the cage with Usman. After all, “Gamebred” has recorded three-straight knockout wins and was arguably 2019’s Fighter of the Year. If anyone at 170 pounds deserves a shot at the belt in 2020 it’s Masvidal.
“We weren’t too far off either, we can make it work in the future for a fact,” Masvidal said. “I think in July, I’ll be beheading this guy for the whole world to see.”
Considering Masvidal and Usman have created quite the feud over the past few months, fight fans are extremely excited to see the two welterweights lock horns later this year. Usman is coming off a successful title defense over Colby Covington back at UFC 245 in which he used his striking to win the fight, but Masvidal still believes the champ will try to take him to the ground when they meet for the belt.
“He’s a boring-ass dude,” Masvidal said. “If I’m speaking from a straight tactical point, he’s not going to want to strike, and he doesn’t really fully commit to wrestling either. All he fully commits to is stalling. Just being a (expletive) stall machine. For the first time, he didn’t stall with this guy (Covington), and it was a (expletive) kickboxing match, and the world gave him all types of praise for it because he wasn’t his usual, boring self, and he actually threw some fists.
“But we all know he’s not gonna throw fists when it comes to me, he’s gonna try to act like he’s gonna throw fists and then he’s gonna go for the takedown, and he’s going to quickly find out I’ll never get held down by that guy. I won’t get out-grappled by that guy. I’ll put my life on it, I’ll put my money on it. I’m in the firm belief system that I’m a better fighter than him and I’m going to prove it in July.”
While the UFC’s schedule remains in doubt as the entire world tries to fight off the coronavirus spread, plans are being put in motion to create a “Fight Island” where UFC can stage events without outside restrictions. If the promotion is unable to host events elsewhere before July, Usman vs. Masvidal may be coming to a beach near you.