For the first time since UFC 245, UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal will feature three title fights. Funny enough, welterweight champion Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman headlined that one. Another similarity from the previous triple threat championship card, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski and Max “Blessed” Holloway faced each other to determine who would stand as the featherweight champion. At UFC 245; however, Holloway was the defending champion. It’ll be up to my colleague @NeilVorster1 to break that championship fight down further.
Related: Volkanovski vs Holloway 2 Preview
As for the main event, Usman is walking into his third title fight and second title defense since dethroning Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. Originally, Usman was set to defend his title against Hard Knocks teammate Gilbert Burns. Much like his colleague, Burns bested Woodley to catapult himself into the upper brass of the 170-pound hierarchy. Unfortunately, Burns and his corner tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to forego his shot at championship gold. A familiar face has stepped in to fill the void left by the Brazilian. Who… who… who???
He’s Gamebred to Get It
With Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal defeated Nate Diaz to become the UFC BMF (Bad Mother (expletive here)) back at UFC 244, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that he would have his date with destiny against the reigning welterweight champion. Since his last loss to Stephen Thompson at UFC 217, Masvidal scored back-to-back knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren, with the knee strike heard ’round the world. Having a such a run, along with charisma catapulted Masvidal into the upper echelon of the 170-pound division.
Once match finalization arrived, the two could not come to terms. There was an unhealthy amount of finger pointing as to why the fight couldn’t come to fruition. From one fighter wanting too much money to allegations of ducking, the pre-fight process was juvenile at best. As a result of stalled negotiations, Masvidal vowed to take a break from the UFC to gain more pay. Given UFC’s recent construction of Fight Island, can you blame fighters for inquiring about increased pay?
Once Burns pulled out, the MMA community began hoping for Masvidal as the replacement. Alas, the fight everyone has clamored for has been booked.
Nightmare on Fight Island
Kamaru Usman has been tested! Except for an arm submission over Haydar Hassan, and technical knockouts of Sergio Moraes and Colby Covington, every fight under the lead brand in mixed martial arts has called for him to go the distance. Speaking of every, all his bouts have resulted in wins. Wherever the fight goes, center of the octagon, cage, or the ground, possessing bull-like strength has granted the champion the fortune of imposing his will upon whoever he’s paired with.
Whether it’s by way of an onslaught of strikes, rendering an opponent
motionless or doctor/referee stoppage, Jorge Masvidal has displayed a knack for knockin’ people out. He began his career as a street fighter under the tutelage of the late Kimbo Slice. He then ascended into the professional ranks, competing in Strikeforce and Bellator prior to UFC. He’s seen his share of peaks and valleys. Yet, Masvidal found a way to ascend into UFC title contention. If he can get the win this Saturday night, he will no doubt be the subject matter of the ultimate MMA Cinderella story. Unfortunately, “Gamebred” took this fight on six days’ notice.
Additionally, as of this past Monday, Masvidal has 20 pounds to lose to make weight the eve of the fight. Then there’s the flight from Florida to Abu Dhabi… jetlag could be an issue too. If Masvidal had an entire training camp to train, I’d lean towards the ultimate MMA Cinderella story coming to past. The carriage that has been Masvidal’s career as of late has been captivating. We’ve seen him dawn the finest of Versace robes. However, the clock will strike noon in Abu Dhabi, leaving Gamebred to experience a “Nigerian Nightmare”. Look for ring announcer Bruce Buffer to belt “AAAAAND…STIIIILL” when it’s all said and done.
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!