DieHardMMA Previews: UFC Vegas 261: Usman vs Masvidal

by Pub Sports Radio

DieHardMMA Previews: UFC Vegas 261: Usman vs Masvidal

By: Clint MacLean

The main event of UFC 261 is a rematch of the highest level where Kamaru Usman looks to stamp his championship passport with another dominant win over a popular fan favorite and line his pockets a bit. Jorge Masvidal has become an MMA sensation thanks to several viral KOs, and it vaulted him into contendership where he took a short-notice fight against Kamaru Usman. Now Masvidal gets his shot to prove he is better than we saw last time. 

The Fighters:

Kamaru Usman (-425)

  • 33 years old
  • 18 – 1
  • 50% finish rate
  • 8 wins by KO/TKO
  • Height: 6’0
  • Reach 76.’

Kamaru Usman is a fighter who I have tried to get on the other side of for a long time. Usman is a physical monster, and his strength is not something many fighters at 170 can handle, but he has become much more than that. I believed that he was a fighter who I could exploit for being one-dimensional, but while I have been trying to find my opportunity, Usman has been in the gym. Now training with master trainer Trevor Whittman and working with Justin Gaethje, Kamaru Usman has become entirely new. I attempted to bet against him when he faced Gilbert Burns, and we nearly had him in that first round, but I have learned my lesson. Kamaru Usman isn’t going anywhere, and he is somehow getting better even as he holds the belt. This man will be a problem to dethrone, and he goes into every fight with a chip on his shoulder and hungry as though he didn’t already have that gold around his waist.

Jorge Masvidal (+325)

  • 35 years old
  • 35 – 14
  • 52% finish rate
  • 16 wins by KO/TKO
  • Height: 5’11
  • Reach 74.’

Jorge Masvidal is a fighter who was mediocre at 155 for the majority of his career. I honestly have no idea what happened, but something snapped in his brain, and he decided he didn’t want to cut weight anymore. The combination has somehow created a beast at 170. Gone are the days when you could out-grapple or wait on Masvidal to make a costly mistake. Gone are the days when he would refuse to “play the game” and give away easy fights because he just wanted to battle. We now have an elite-level striker who has rounded out his game and gives zero fucks, and the world loves it. Masvidal talked a lot after the original fight with Kamaru Usman about how the fight was on short notice, and he could have done more with a full camp. Well, here you go, Jorge. Now’s your chance.

The Matchup:

Kamaru Usman looks to put the idea that Masvidal can do much more to bed. The champion saw an opportunity to make some easy cash against an opponent with whom he matched up very well and took it. I honestly cannot say that I blame him. Jorge Masvidal is a fighter who you cannot take lightly on the feet, but there is no secret that he can be physically controlled and overwhelmed. Kamaru Usman is not above making a fight boring to get his hand raised and keep that gold around his waist, and that should be the biggest key in this fight.

The one area of the MMA game where Jorge Masvidal is better than Usman is striking, but that window is rapidly closing. Kamaru Usman is getting better and better every time we say him. Working with Whittman and Gaethje has taken his striking game to the next level, and I honestly can say I do not believe he feats what Jorge brings on the feet like most people say he does. Usman is brilliant and will find the one area of the game that he can exploit, much like GSP used in this very weight class. Usman’s only fear is that one big shot that could end his night, and he has shown us that he is nothing but durable and talented enough to avoid such a bomb. And if he can’t avoid it, he will eat it and then fire back harder as he did to Gilbert Burns.

It took me a bit longer than it should have to recognize greatness, but I am here. You got me, Kamaru. I get it now. This man is something special, and the drive and hunger he carries will allow him to sit atop the throne of 170 for a long time, and I honestly have a hard time seeing anybody catching him for a few years. Kamaru Usman is worthy of being a parlay piece, but I think a total is better with the way this fight likely plays out. IF Jorge were to win this fight, it would be inside the distance with a power shot. Usman is fully capable of dragging this fight to a decision, but something tells me that Kamaru wants to put a stamp on this one. Silence the haters forever with a finish of Street Jesus and take all the glory that comes with that level of performance. I think he gets this one done in a dramatic fashion.

The Pick: Under 4.5 Rounds +165

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