It’s not often we see UFC champions asking for a second fight with a challenger who’s already been vanquished, but Kamaru Usman has no problem admitting he wants Jorge Masvidal again.
Following his win over Gilbert Burns at this past Saturday’s UFC 258, the reigning welterweight titleholder brought up the idea of a rematch with “Gamebred,” and it seems to be quickly gaining traction. While nothing has been signed yet, Usman said his motivation is twofold.
First, Usman said he’s been harboring a little frustration inside from a few comments he heard Masvidal make following their meeting at UFC 251. That famous “Fight Island” clash saw Masvidal step in on one week’s notice but come up short in a five-round decision – a result the challenger thinks he could reverse if given ample preparation.
“I am 4-0 now in title fights, and three of those – I mean, all four, to be honest – I’ve completely dominated, completely. But one of those four, there’s an excuse,” Usman told MMA Junkie. “There’s a, ‘Oh, this is why. This is why. This is why.’ Let’s be honest: The hardcore MMA fans and you and I know that 10 times out of 10, on my worst day, that’s what happens. That’s the result that you’re going to get. But this guy truly, for some reason, believes – I don’t know whether he’s sniffing his own Kool-Aid too much, or I don’t know what he’s doing down there wherever he’s hiding at – that he truly for some reason, he believes that he has a shot, that he can beat me. And what even kind of ticked me off, what brought this on, was after the fight, he’s doing his little media talk. I think it might have been his post-fight, and I was walking by. They were taking me into medical, and I’m walking by the room, and it just so happens that at the same time, I guess the question was asked to him, and I hear him saying, ‘With more preparation, I believe I have what it takes to beat that man.’ That is not words that I ever want to hear out of an opponent of mine. Never.
“That is why – like, a lot of people, I know they might be mad and say, ‘Oh, you went to the decision, you went to the decision.’ But guess what? Every one of those guys I went to the decision with, I guarantee you they don’t want to fight me again. There’s a reason, because I want to break them internally. I want to break their soul. I want to take something away from them to that when my name comes up again, they’re just like, ‘F*ck, no. I don’t want to fight that guy again.’ So when I was walking by and I heard him say that, it pissed me off to the point where I’m just like, ‘What? How dare you?’ How dare you?’ That was not even my greatest performance. Had I went out there and the circumstances been different and I performed the way that I’m capable of performing, you wouldn’t have lasted three rounds. I would have finished you. I would have gotten him out of there. So by him not recognizing that, it just pissed me off so much to where it put a bigger chip in my shoulder.”
Of course, there’s another motivating factor for Usman, as well. With three successful title defenses to his name, Usman is looking to collect the biggest checks possible while continuing to build his legacy, and while may not be Masvidal’s biggest fan, the champ realizes the American Top Team fighter’s popularity among fans.
“It doesn’t hurt that if you really look at the pool of guys that are right there for me to fight, he’s the only one that kind of arguably makes a case for himself, you know?” Usman asked. “And it doesn’t hurt that he’s the most popular one out of them. So it’s like, why not? At the end of the day, I’m a businessman, as well. I’m not stupid. I’m an artist, and I am sensitive about my sh*t, but I want to compensated for it, as well.”
Should that matchup come to fruition, there have been reports that the two could end up as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter,” as well, which is set for a reboot later this year. While it might seem a little counterintuitive to give Masvidal six weeks of taping time to get under his skin, Usman said he’s not worried about potential verbal clashes.
Usman said he doesn’t exactly want to hear Masvidal’s inevitable taunts, but he also doesn’t thinks there’s any real ammunition left to use.
“As a competitor, obviously not – I don’t want to deal with any of that because I’m a simple guy, fairly,” Usman said. “I just want to be in my house, on my couch. I don’t want to have to deal with any of that other stuff. But this is part of the job. This is part of my goal of this year, is big, big things that I need to do, I want to do. I want to do them this year, and this is just a stepping stone towards that, and he can’t troll me. I don’t give a sh*t about that guy.
“What could he possibly say? That’s the thing now. What could you possibly say about me? What? What could he say? How could he troll me? What? ‘You can’t fight.’ Wrong. I can fight – because I have a big shiny thing up here that says that I can fight. ‘You can’t beat me?’ Wrong. I beat your ass from start to finish. You can’t say that.
“What else do they say? ‘Oh, your hair, you have no hair. Guess what? I shaved it all. Bald now. What these dudes going to say about me? You can’t say nothing. John, tell them: They can’t say nothing, can’t control noting. It’s me. I’m going to be there with my coaching staff, and when my coaching staff is there, they’re going to know. They better keep their mouth shut because at any given moment, we would set it off in there.”
To hear the full interview with Usman, check out the video below.