Kamaru Usman (17-1) earned a decision victory over Jorge Masvidal (35-14) to keep the welterweight championship in the main event at UFC 251 from “Fight Island” at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Masvidal opened the first with a slew of swift leg kicks, but Usman caught one of them and took the challenger to the mat. Masvidal worked off his back and jumped back to his feet, where he landed stinging knees and a sharp elbow. Usman went for the takedown again, but the challenger fought it off. Masvidal appeared to stun Usman with a right hook late before the end of the round.
Throughout the second, Usman had Masvidal backed against the cage, where he traded stomping his feet and attacking his body. Toward the end of the round, Masvidal showed some life and landed a handful of shots.
The third was much of the same, with Usman dropping Masvidal with back-to-back takedowns. Usman controlled the ground and went to work on Masvidal’s midsection. Usman pushed Masvidal against the cage to open the fourth yet again, trading foot stomps with body shots. Masvidal exploded out of the clinch and moved forward with his own burst of attacks. That was short lived though, with Usman yet again earning an advantage by holding Masvidal against the cage.
In the final round, Usman took Masvidal to the ground again, where Usman chipped away with elbows and maintained a dominant position. With less than a minute remaining, Masvidal made his way back his feet and began throwing a flurry of strikes but didn’t have enough left to finish the fight.
After resurrecting his career to the tune of three consecutive wins, most recently winning the Baddest Motherf***er championship, Masvidal has called for a title shot for the last six months. Gilbert Burns got the opportunity instead, but Masvidal stepped in on one week’s notice after the challenger tested positive for COVID-19.
His opponent, Usman, also saw a meteoric rise over the last year, beating Tyron Woodley in an incredibly one-sided tilt before breaking Colby Covington’s jaw in an impressive first title defense.