It wasn’t the first choice to headline UFC 251, which takes place tonight (Sat., July 11, 2020) inside Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, but the showdown between Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, and bitter rival, Jorge Masvidal, was the more exciting match up in the eyes of most fight fans. Putting their beef aside, Masvidal accepting the bout on just six days notice and then flying half-way around the world was a gangster move ... and UFC attempted to market every single second of it.
Did the hype and anticipation live up to the lofty expectations? Not really. Masvidal started strong, but Usman’s suffocating wrestling and clinch control was just too much for “Gamebred” to overcome on six days notice (watch highlights), dropping a wide unanimous decision to “Nigerian Nightmare.”
Masvidal was all smiles in his corner before the action got underway, while Usman crouched in his corner. Masvidal coming out hot with hard kicks and it was only a matter of time before the wrestling-minded Usman caught one and scored his first takedown of the fight less than 30 seconds into the match. He posted up and tried to land some shots, but Masvidal boxed his ears, landed some upkicks and was eventually able to escape. Masvidal throwing heat, bad intentions behind each punch early. Usman ducked under the barrage and angled for a single-leg takedown, which was mildly successful as “Gamebred” was back on his feet seconds later. They battled for position along the cage, with Usman connected with a short elbow to the temple on the break. Masvidal scored with a switch Superman punch, but then ate a jab seconds later. Nice combination from Masvidal, whose leaking from under his left eye after an accidental clash of heads. Strong first round for Masvidal, just not sure he can keep up the crazy pace for 20 more minutes.
Usman came out to start the second with an ankle pic, but Masvidal was able to spin out of it. Usman wasn’t about to let him off the hook that easy, though, tying up Masvidal along the cage and dropping foot stomps. Masvidal attempted to break free with a short elbow, but Usman kept him close. Another clash of heads once again split open Masvidal, but doesn’t seem to be anything too serious ... yet. More foot stomps from Usman, who has Masvidal pressed up against fence, hitting him with short body punches to start breaking down “Gamebred.” Masvidal was content to just rest, finally starting to work with one minute remaining in the round. He connected with a nice combination late, but Usman appeared to win the round.
Usman was clearly the fresher fighter coming out of their respective corners — Masvidal was heaving trying to catch his breath. And Usman was on top of him right away, mushing him into the fence and working the body and feet of Masvidal. The two separated and Masvidal was able to sneak in a few shots, but Usman was back in looking for another takedown. The referee stepped in for what appeared to be a low blow, but it seemed like it hit Masvidal in the belly. Nevertheless, Masvidal took all the time he was allowed to get a much-needed blow. On the restart, Usman dipped under a right hook and drove Masvidal into the bottom of the cage. Masvidal wall walked back to his feet, but Usman rewarded him with a hard hip toss. Masvidal tried to squirm out the back with a gator roll, but Usman corralled him and bounced an elbow off his forehead before the round came to a close.
Once again, Usman was all over Masvidal from the jump, closing the distance, pressing him up against the fence and digging into his body. Oh, and more foot stomps. Masvidal was able to break free for a few seconds, but he just stayed with his back up against the fence, so Usman dove in for yet another takedown attempt. Masvidal was finally able to get to the center of the cage, where he began to open up a little. Usman, though, was more than willing to return fire, faking the takedown and drilling Masvidal with crosses when he took the bait. Usman once again pinned him up against the fence as the clock winded down, content to just lay on Masvidal and tire him out.
Masvidal needed a finish to complete his Cinderella story, but Usman wasn’t going to make it easy. He backed Masvidal into the fence once more and eventually dragged Masvidal back to the canvas. He pinned Masvidal to the bottom of the cage up against the fence and started to lay down some ground-and-pound. Masvidal spun, but ended up in side control underneath “Nigerian Nightmare.” He eventually got to his knees, but with 90 seconds on the clock all hope was seemingly lost for Masvidal. With 40 seconds remaining, Masvidal got back to his feet and broke free, he tried to put together a fight-ending flurry, but it was way too little, way too late.
Final Result: Kamaru Usman defeats Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision
MMAmania.com is delivering LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 251 PPV main card RIGHT HERE, right now.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 251: “Usman vs. Masvidal” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.