All trash talk aside, Kamaru Usman knows he better be ready.
The UFC welterweight champion defends his title for a second time in a bout with Jorge Masvidal in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi.
Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) is facing one of the biggest stars in the UFC. The attention and buzz that Masvidal generates might take a lot of the focus, but Usman is making sure he stays honest with the task at hand.
“He’s the best out of each and every one of them (Usman’s past opponents),” Usman told reporters from Abu Dhabi at Thusday’s UFC 251 virtual media day. “He’s the best, he’s the next guy in front of me. He’s the toughest guy in front of me, so I don’t take him lightly. I’m going out there with all my thoughts, the thought that he’s the best opponent that I have faced today and I have to go out there and treat him accordingly.”
Masvidal was not supposed to fight Usman at UFC 251. The original booking was with Gilbert Burns, but the Brazilian tested positive for COVID-19 late last week and wasn’t allowed to compete, giving Masvidal the opportunity to step in as a late replacement.
Usman thinks this was the right fight to make, anyway, and believes the main event is now bigger.
“Can you sell (expletive) to the fans?” Usman said. “The fans know if you have someone that’s worthy as a challenger. The fact that Jorge had such an amazing year in 2019 puts him into that category to where he’s the next biggest challenge for me. I’m excited. I can’t wait. I think this is the fight that people wanted and it’s the fight that people are getting.”
Although Usman considers Masvidal the biggest challenge he’s ever faced, the Nigerian fighter feels confident entering UFC 251, as that’s the job of a champion.
“At the end of the day Masvidal is the biggest baddest, opponent that I have ever faced up to this date,” Usman said. “They’re supposed to make a big deal out of that because he’s no slouch. I know that he’s tough. I know that he presents a different challenge, but thats my job. That’s why I’m a champion, that’s why I’m on top.
“We’ve seen previously, my previous opponent said that he was going to leave me out on a stretcher just like Masvidal. He said that they will leave me on a pool of my own blood and that they would carry me out on a stretcher. My opponent before that, Tyron Woodley, said if it came to wrestling, he’d kick my ass. If it came to jiu-jitsu, he’d break my arm. If it came to striking he’d, knock me out. And we saw how all that turned out. So you know, that’s the story they say just to try to build themselves up and hype themselves up. But very quickly, when they step in there, their dreams of being champion turn into nightmares quickly.”