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The circumstances aren’t always ideal when a golden opportunity arises.
Such was the case for Jorge Masvidal, who was accepted a welterweight title fight against Kamaru Usman on six days’ notice after originally-scheduled foe Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19. Masvidal tested negative for coronavirus, flew to Abu Dhabi, made weight and threatened the champion for about a round in the UFC 251 headliner on Saturday night.
After that, “Gamebred” ran out of gas and Usman imposed his will through takedowns and clinch work to earn a dominant unanimous decision triumph. Still, Masvidal took away some positives from his performance and came away motivated to eventually secure a rematch with “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
“I hate coming up short. I ain’t going to make no excuses,” Masvidal said at the UFC 251 post-fight press conference. “He was the better man tonight. There was some areas where I didn’t give him enough credit and there was some areas I felt with a better training camp I could definitely surpass him. I think I showed a lot of my wrestling on six days’ notice that I’m not too easy to take down or hold down on the ground.
“I made a lot of mistakes. I tried to fight in spots where I didn’t think my gas tank was the greatest. Right when I would get loose, he would clinch me up and take it right back into his world. So, I’m not going to take anything away from him. He won fair and square. I will do whatever it takes to get back in front of that man and compete again and get my hand raised.”
Building upon those positives, the Miami native believes he has the proper plan to defeat Usman in a return date in the future.
“I’ve got a good formula in my head though on how to beat him the next time,” Masvidal said. “I thought I had the formula. Now I know the formula — it takes a lot of gas tank, a lot of conditioning, a lot more wrestling rounds with high level guys. So I definitely got a square root on how to beat this guy.”
Realistically, Masvidal knows an immediate rematch with Usman is not in the cards. The American Top Team member plans on being pickier accepting his next opponent, and he wants to make sure he has a full camp behind him so he can make a good impression in the Octagon.
“Definitely going to sit back and evaluate the next one,” Masvidal said. “I don’t know if I’ll be coming back at the end of the year or early next year. I’m going to sit down with my management and figure it out. But whoever it is next year I just want to come back and get a stoppage and be in peak shape, have a six-pack when I’m out there and just be right.”
In the long run, the next opponent – and whatever might come beyond that – is a means to an end. The ultimate goal is another crack at Usman. Now a veteran of 49 professional fights, Masvidal is more determined than ever to capture UFC gold.
“We’ll do it again,” Masvidal said. “I just can’t wait. They’ll put an opponent in front of me and I’ll take care of business and I’m going to come back better than ever. I’m not going to disappear from the sport without this belt being wrapped around my waist. One way or another. It’s not my best performance tonight but everyone gets to see the dog in me and that dog doesn’t shut up or roll over for nobody.”
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