UFC 251: Main Event Madness | Usman vs. Masvidal
Main Event Breakdown
By Jason Paglia
Welp, we have been waiting for Fight Island for months friends, and the wait is finally over. Tomorrow night UFC 251 will be the first of four events on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi in 14 days. They kick it off tomorrow night with the strongest PPV to date in 2020. THREE title fights on the main card, and a great card overall.
The main event was changed late last weekend. Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman was initially supposed to fight Gilbert Burns. Unfortunately for Burns, he came down with the COVID-19 virus and was forced to pull out. Jorge Masvidal now steps in to save the day, and the question becomes: can Jorge Masvidal beat Usman as a last-minute replacement? Let’s what we do and break this fight down to a fine powder.
Kamaru Usman (16-1)
Born in Nigeria, Kamaru Usman moved to the United States when he was just eight years old. At the age of 15, he found his first love, the art of wrestling. He began wrestling for Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. While at Bowie, he compiled a wrestling record of 53-3 before attending college. Usman went on to wrestle at William Penn University in Iowa for a year, where he would qualify for the NAIA national tournament in 2007. The following year Usman transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he led the school to the first-ever team Division II National Championship. At UNK, he became a three-time All-American and, finally, in 2010 an individual National Champion at 170 lbs.
In 2012 Usman changed the trajectory of his life and began training mixed martial arts in 2011. He made his professional debut in November of 2012. Through 2014 Usman had amassed an MMA record of 5-1 fighting for various regional promotions. Finally, in 2015 the UFC called for Usman to take part in the Ultimate Fighter reality show. He won the competition, and the rest is history. Since Joining the UFC Kamaru Usman is 10-0 and there was no victory more important than his last. He fought and beat UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to win the welterweight championship. In his last fight, he defended his title versus a very game Colby Covington. It was a fantastic fight for 4.5 rounds until he got the last-minute stoppage. Saturday will be Kamaru Usman’s 2nd title defense. Can he get the job done again?
The BEST of Kamaru Usman
WRESTLING – Probably the best wrestler in the welterweight division, which is saying a lot in a division where Colby Covington and Ben Askren compete in. Next level top control.
STAMINA – Kamaru Usman is capable of being your worst nightmare for 25 minutes straight. An absolute bottomless gas tank. Again, next level stamina
TAKEDOWN DEFENSE – Kamaru Usman has a 100% takedown defense in the UFC…. Meaning he has never been brought to the ground against his own will through 12 fights. That is…. How do you say…… absurd.
The WORST of Kamaru Usman
FOOTWORK – His footwork is excellent if he is trying to walk through your offense to take you down. However, his striking footwork leaves a lot to be desired. He is not a super technical striker. As a by-product of that, he does not have good technical footwork. However, it’s worth noting that his striking is improving dramatically fight after fight.
Jorge Masvidal (35-13)
Jorge Masvidal grew up on the streets of Miami, Florida. His father wasn’t around for much of his childhood; He was arrested for manslaughter and drug trafficking and is currently serving a jail sentence. His mother raised him but couldn’t control him. Masvidal was abrasive and competitive from a young age. He wrestled at St. Brendan High School for a short while but eventually was kicked off the team because he was unable to maintain the grades required to stay on the team.
He began training in MMA after high school. Soon after, he started fighting in the streets of Miami. He saw the success that Miami hardcore legend Kimbo Slice had and thought he would be able to do the same. He fought one of Kimbo Slice’s proteges and knocked him out. It was then that he began fighting professionally. He started fighting on the regional scene for multiple organizations. He did this from 2003 to 2009. Finally, he signed with a new promotion at the time called Bellator MMA. They would grow into the only competition that the UFC has in the United States, but at the time, it was their first event, and Masvidal was on the card. He was with Bellator for three fights in total. He won 2 out of 3 fights for them, and again he moved on to various promotions.
With a record of 20-6 Masvidal signed with the 2nd biggest promotion in the states at the time, Strikeforce MMA. He signed a four-fight deal with them, and finally, after a decade on the regional scene, and a professional record of 23-7, he was signed by the biggest MMA promotion in the world. In his first UFC fight at a UFC on Fox event, Masvidal beat Tim Means via unanimous decision. Since entering the UFC, Masvidal has a 12-6 record. He has been on fire recently, winning 6 of his last eight fights. His total pro record is 35-13, and he currently sits as the #3 welterweight contender in the world. In his last fight against Nate Diaz, Masvidal won the BMF title. It means nothing, but it looks good. He now walks into the cage on one week’s notice Saturday night for his chance at immortality. Can Jorge Masvidal finally win the UFC championship after 20 years in the fight game?
The BEST of JORGE MASVIDAL
STRIKING – Jorge Masvidal is truly one of the great pure strikers in the game today. Excellent accuracy, phenomenal combinations, and counter striking game. Not blow your mind power, but more than enough to starch anyone should he hit the button. He hits the button A LOT.
RANGE/MOVEMENT – Most gifted strikers have excellent motion and range in the cage. They go hand in hand. His footwork is part of the reason why he is so gifted as a striker. His motion is fluid; he uses range very well. He is capable of darting in for offense and out before he takes to much damage.
CREATIVITY – Look no further than his last fight. The reason why he has the fastest knockout in UFC history is because of his preparation and creativity.
CHIN – Masvidal’s chin has held up well through his career. Forty-seven professional fights, and he has been knocked out once. It has looked terrific through the years, and it has continued through his most recent successful run.
The WORST of JORGE MASVIDAL
GROUND GAME– When you are talking about fighters on this level, there aren’t many flaws. That being said, if there was a weakness, I suppose it would be his grappling/submission game. The people he rolls within training swear that he is aces on the ground, but he only has two submission victories in 47 fights. He would much rather prefer to stand and bang if it was up to him. That is exactly what he will look to do this Saturday.
WHO WIN THIS FIGHT?
The narrative in this fight misconceiving. Yes, Jorge Masvidal is coming in on a week’s notice, but it means nothing, in my opinion. He was training for this fight for three months and stopped training for it as recently as five weeks ago when contract negotiations fell through. Masvidal was supposed to fight Usman at 251. Keep that in mind, and don’t let it be the reason you don’t back Masvidal.
I will not be on Masvidal because it’s a horrific style matchup for him. That is the only reason I won’t bet Masvidal on Saturday night. Every person on the UFC roster knows Masvidal might have the best pocket striking in the 170lbs division. If you want to beat Masvidal and avoid being knocked out, you need to avoid that.
Who better to avoid that than Kamaru Usman? Yes, the last time you saw Usman, he stood in the pocket for five rounds against Covington. The reason he did that is simple. He knew Covington was also an elite wrestler, and Usman did not respect Covington’s striking game.
The opposite will be exact tomorrow night. He has to respect Masvidal’s striking, which makes Usman’s most straightforward path to victory what Usman does best, wrestling and top control. If the whole world knows that Usman will win this fight if he takes George down than Usman and his coaches have to know that as well.
The argument you might hear is Jorge Masvidal has a 78% takedown defense. That might be true, but he has never stopped the takedowns from a wrestler that is as elite as Kamaru Usman. Masvidal will have to do that for five rounds if he plans on winning this fight. If an All-American wrestler like Tyron Woodley could not stop Usman from taking him down at will for five rounds, what on earth is Jorge Masvidal going to do to stop it? In my opinion absolutely nothing.
The odds are a fair representation of the advantage that Usman has stylistically. If Masvidal continues to take money early tomorrow evening and the line drops, Usman on the Moneyline might be the play that is worth taking. Assuming the line does not change, I think the way you approach this fight is by using Usman as an anchor in multiple two fighter parlays. I don’t normally tell people to bet parlays, but I think it’s warranted in this spot. There are multiple avenues you can go down as far as parlays. One of them will be the free pick in this article. Good Luck and enjoy the fights.