Kamaru Usman closed out UFC 251 from du Forum at UFC's "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday with a unanimous-decision win (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) over Jorge Masvidal to defend his welterweight crown.
Usman largely dominated, registering 94 significant strikes versus Masvidal's 66, per UFC Stats. He also had five takedowns, while Masvidal did not have any.
This was Usman's second successful title defense. He defeated Colby Covington by fifth-round TKO at UFC 245 to solidify himself as champion after taking the belt from Tyron Woodley at UFC 235.
This highly anticipated matchup was a surprise. Masvidal's breakout in 2019 was one of the biggest MMA stories of the year. The former street fighter has always had an "anytime, anywhere" attitude but was propelled to stardom with three straight knockouts of Darren Till, Ben Askren (in five seconds, no less) and finally Nate Diaz, whom he fought for the symbolic UFC BMF Championship.
Still, the UFC went with Gilbert Burns for the next title fight after he dismantled Woodley in a card that aired on ESPN in late May.
Unfortunately, the Brazilian was taken off the card after testing positive for COVID-19, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN. True to form, Masvidal stepped in on just six days' notice to challenge Usman.
Now Burns is among those who are glad that Usman remained the champion against the dangerous Masvidal, telling Okamoto last week:
"If Masvidal wins, the [welterweight division] is going to get crazy. It's going to be a circus in that division. He's going to fight Conor [McGregor] or Nate Diaz. I don't think the division is going to run correctly—the No. 1 and No. 2 guy fighting for the title. He's going to make it a mess, so that's another reason I want Kamaru to win."
Burns will likely remain a contender for the next shot at the champion. Leon Edwards also has a strong case but has a loss to Usman.
Regardless, Usman has proved he'll be a tough champion to dethrone. His only loss as a professional came in 2013, and he's 16-0 since. The Nigerian Nightmare has undisputedly established himself as the best welterweight in the world.