Kamaru Usman Retains Title with 2nd-Round Knockout vs. Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2021

Kamaru Usman celebrates after his win against Tyron Woodley in a welterweight mixed martial arts title fight at UFC 235, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Kamaru Usman is still your UFC welterweight champion. The Nigerian Nightmare defended his title with a  second-round knockout win over Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 261 from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

After fighting to a decision the first time around, Usman melted Masvidal with a massive right hand. 

Usman was in no hurry to get Masvidal to the ground in the early going. The two exchanged cursory strikes to open the first round with Usman landing a few strong punches of his own but by the middle of the round Usman was ready to go to the mat. 

UFC Canada @UFC_CA

Graceful in defeat 🙏 #UFC261 https://t.co/7J6qtdNRWS

Gamebred did eventually work his way back to the cage but the champion scored the first round. 

Usman's willingness to stand with the challenger paid off in a big way in the second round. Usman followed a left hand with a clean right hand that landed flush on Masvidal's face and put him on the ground. 

The champ pounced quickly to draw the finish, the first of Masvidal's career. 

ESPN MMA @espnmma

After trading shots, @USMAN84kg scored the early takedown 😬 #UFC261 https://t.co/GcRH7HZlvB

Gamebred was complimentary in giving the champ props for a masterful performance:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

JUST. LIKE. THAT. 💡 #UFC261 @espnmma https://t.co/BkuFfg6yX4

The win is Usman's second over Masvidal in the last year. The champion also beat Gamebred at UFC 251 in 2020, but the challenger was fighting him on less than a week's notice after Gilbert Burns was forced off the card due to testing positive for COVID-19. 

Masvidal argued that the fight would be much different if he had a whole camp to prepare for the fight. The result was still the same as Usman made his fourth successful title defense. 

At this point, there's no questioning Usman's position as the top welterweight in the world. He became champion by beating Tyron Woodley and has added two wins against Masvidal, a win over Colby Covington and a knockout win over Burns. 

He has certainly established himself as the top dog in the division, but there's still work to do if he wants to surpass Georges St-Pierre as the most dominant fighter in the history of the weight class. GSP racked up nine straight title defenses in his second reign as champion. 

With another top challenger put away, Usman has been disappointed in a lack of true contenders in the division. 

“Yeah, these guys have to show me something to let know, to put the fear in me that ‘oh man, I’ve got to get up, I’ve got to wake up and get up and prepare for these guys,’” Usman said, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. “Because right now, there’s not much that they can offer me. There’s just not much cause I’m just so far ahead of them right now that I’m lapping these guys."

In terms of new matchups, there are a few options. Leon Edwards is expected to fight Nate Diaz in May, which could produce another challenger. The rise of Khamzat Chimaev creates another interesting scenario. 

One thing is for sure, whoever gets the next crack will come in as the underdog against Usman. 


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