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Kamaru Usman brushes off UFC 251 criticism, shows Jorge Masvidal respect

MMAJunkie logo MMAJunkie 7/12/2020 Nolan King,John Morgan
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: (L-R) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria kicks Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC) © File photo ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: (L-R) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria kicks Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

ABU DHABI – Trash talk was plentiful entering the UFC 251 main event between UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Jorge Masvidal.

When the dust settled, the beef did, too. Upon the sound of the final horn, Usman (17-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) and Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC) shook hands and exchanged well-wishes.

At a post-fight news conference, Usman praised Masvidal and further voiced his respect for the “BMF” champion.

“It’s just mutual respect,” Usman said. “It’s hard not to respect a man when you spend 25 minutes in that Octagon punching each other in the face. Yeah, it’s just mutual respect. We both feel that we’ll do it again. Absolutely. I would like more time to prepare for a guy like that and really be able to dominate in the way that I want to – picking my spots and try to get that finish standing.”

Usman’s performance was dominant and he received two 50-45 scorecards from the judges (the other was a 49-46), but his method of victory was heavily criticized online. Usman largely utilized his grappling and fence work for the majority of the fight.

At the news conference, Usman disagreed with the notion that it was fair criticism, saying his critics should try to do what he just did – hang in the cage with Masvidal for the entirety of a title fight. Usman sees comparisons between himself and all-time boxing great Floyd Mayweather in that regard.

“Maybe they need to get in there and fight Jorge Masvidal for 25 minutes, then say something,” Usman said. “… Well, that’s the thing. There was a time where people starting hating Floyd Mayweather because he was so dominant. Floyd, his defense was so good. He was just so good at what he did. We can agree on that. He was so good at what he did. Everyone is like, ‘Oh that’s boring. He’s not fighting,’  because they didn’t see a bar fight.

“We’re risking our lives in there. We’ve trained. What’s the point of training each and every day and then go in there and just slugging around, taking punches?”

The welterweight title bout was the UFC 251 main event at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN/ESPN+ and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Video

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