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I am best pound-for-pound fighter on earth, Usman boasts

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman believes he is currently the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport after his stunning title defence against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 in Florida...

Kamaru Usman believes he is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the MMA after his knock out defeat of Jorge Masvidal… at the weekend

• Masvidal accepts ‘free, fair’ defeat
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman believes he is currently the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport after his stunning title defence against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 in Florida yesterday morning, reports

The Nigerian athlete, who prevailed on points in the pair’s first meeting in Abu Dhabi last summer, ended any suspicions about his superiority over Masvidal, knocking out his rival with a thudding right hand one minute into the second round.

The event, which held in front of more than 15,000 fans at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, marked the first time the UFC had staged a show in front of a capacity crowd since March last year.

The victory, Usman’s fourth successful title defence, lifted his win streak to 18 fights, extending his unbeaten record in the UFC to 14. Only Anderson Silva has more consecutive victories, at 16. At present, Usman sits second on the UFC’s men’s pound-for-pound list, behind Jon Jones.

Speaking at the post-event press conference, the champion said he is open to a rematch against Colby Covington next. Usman defeated his old adversary by fifth-round TKO in December 2019.

“With my fundamentals, I am the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet right now,” Usman said. “Sky is the limit. I’m growing so much in the sport. I’m just blessed to be at this present time and moment.

“It was a sweet one, it’s up there. If you look at the knockouts now that I’m putting together, that one’s up there for sure. That’s what I wanted to do. I said I’m so far ahead of these guys, I’m coming around and lapping these guys on the track, I’m coming around with a vengeance and I had to go out there and put the nails in that coffin and I did and we turn the page and move forward.

“Now I’m satisfied. They said they wanted violence out here in Jacksonville, Florida and I went out there and gave it to them.”

UFC president Dana White had earlier said Usman is “one of the best ever, and he’s on his way to probably being the greatest of all time.”

The loss was the first time Masvidal had been knocked out in 50 professional bouts. The American, who took the previous fight in Abu Dhabi on six days’ notice, was gracious in defeat, saying: “He’s got my number, man.”

Immediately after he was knocked out, Masvidal seemed to take his second loss to Usman in stride.

Seconds before the finishing exchange, Masvidal was smiled and goaded Usman with his hands down. No excuses were made for the loss, but Masvidal stated he thought his confidence got the best of him.

“It’s the first time in my career (that I’ve been slept), and it’s in front of all my people, my family, my friends, so it hurts,” Masvidal said during his in-cage interview following the official decision. “I’ve never been knocked out (cold) in 50 pro fights. Usman showed me something that he didn’t show the first fight. I didn’t feel his power, and that’s what happens when you get overconfident, man.”

Before the fight, Masvidal said he envisioned Usman engaging him more in wrestling – an area the first fight centered around. For this camp, Masvidal focused on his cardio and grappling, but it was mostly all for naught.

“I thought we were going to wrestle more,” Masvidal said. “I was ready to wrestle 25 minutes. All the props to him in the world. He caught me by surprise. He’s got my number. There’s nothing I can say. He won this fair and square and God bless him, man.”

For Masvidal, the loss means back-to-back defeats, both against Usman. Last July, Masvidal dropped a unanimous decision to Usman in a fight he took on six days’ notice. The losses come on the heels of a three-fight winning streak. The knockout defeat was the first time Masvidal had been finished since May 2009.

As for what’s next for Usman, it seems like a rematch against Colby Covington could be next. Remember, Usman knocked out Covington when they fought at UFC 245 in December 2019. Two years later and the two rivals seem poised to meet again with the belt on the line for a second time between two of the best welterweights the sport has ever seen.