When the UFC removed Gilbert Burns from the UFC 251 card due to a COVID-19 test, Jorge Masvidal stepped in on short notice to face off with Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title. The two men have a combative history, creating expectations for a big-time championship fight. Ultimately, Kamaru Usman secured the victory and headed home from Fight Island with the belt.
Usman controlled the bout with his wrestling and takedowns, including a side quest to Masvidal's toes that caught the eye of UFC fans on social media. But checking the stats of the fight, there was little doubt who earned the victory. It wasn't an exciting fight but it was dominant fight.
Heading into Saturday's main event, both Usman and Masvidal made comments about each other while setting the stage for a big performance. Usman, who entered the bout with a 15-fight win streak, said that he had to remind Masvidal that "he is a .500 fighter." Still, Usman said that his opponent is "very tough" and that he respects his tenure in Mixed Martial Arts.
Masvidal, on the other hand, said that he planned on knocking out the "mentally weak" Usman during UFC 251. He said that the fight would just be business, but he did list one specific request. Masvidal said he hoped to get in a few extra shots after putting Usman to sleep.
"If the referee trips on the way to stopping me and I get to get a couple extra, extra punches, I wouldn't mind," Masvidal said at the virtual media day. "They're going to be a little bit more than the super necessary punches. It's going to be something a little special. I'm going to have to go into my fast-forward speed and truly send this guy to another plane."
Given their history of success in the ring, the fighters were evenly matched in the odds. CBS Sports slightly favored Usman at -240. The Nigerian Nightmare had the edge due to only losing one fight in career, back in 2013.In his career, Usman has defeated Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Rafael Dos Anjos.
Masvidal was viewed as top competition due to knocking out three different opponents in 2019. This includes knocking out Ben Askren with a flying knee at UFC 239. This move took only five seconds and earned Masvidal the fastest knockout in UFC history. During UFC 244, Masvidal secured the biggest win of his career when defeated Nate Diaz via TKO. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson awarded him with a specially-created "BMF" championship belt to mark the occasion.