While the UFC 251 main event wasn’t the barnburner some fans expected for Saturday night, Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title in dominant fashion.
Usman earned a unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, even sweeping Masvidal on two of the judges’ scorecards.
Following the victory, fans and fellow fighters took to social media to complain about the lack of action shown in the first headliner on “Fight Island.” Usman is fine with the reactions, he said, because other great champions of combat sports have faced the same criticism.
“There was a time where people started hating Floyd Mayweather because he was so dominant,” Usman told reporters at the UFC 251 post-fight press conference. “Floyd’s defense was so good, and he was just so good at what he did. We can agree on that. He was so good at what he did where everyone was like, ‘No, that’s boring. He’s not fighting.’ Why? Because people want to see a bar fight?
“We’re risking our lives in there. What is the point of training every day, and then going in there and slugging it out, taking punches? You train to be able to make someone miss, to control someone in a certain way. That’s what training is for, so you’re not just going in there and taking punishment at will. I do that better than anybody.”
There was mutual respect shown between the two rivals upon the completion of the bout. Usman was preparing to face Gilbert Burns before a positive COVID-19 test forced the UFC to shift gears on one week’s notice. Masvidal stepped in and went the distance with a champion who hasn’t lost a fight—or many rounds—throughout his UFC career.
As far as the negativity expressed toward the performance of “The Nigerian Nightmare,” he invites them to share the cage with “Gamebred” before he takes their comments seriously.
“Maybe they need to get in there and fight Jorge Masvidal for 25 minutes and then say something,” Usman said. “Whoever is saying that can say whatever they want. I went out and kept working. I worked for 25 minutes. Even when we were up against the cage standing, I worked for 25 minutes. I gave him opportunities to get off the cage, but he was content standing there and I kept working.
“So whoever is saying that, come share the octagon with Jorge Masvidal for 25 minutes, then we’ll see what you’ve got to say.”