‘Out of Body Experience’- Kamaru Usman Recalls UFC 251 Fight Against Jorge Masvidal

Published 01/29/2021, 4:30 AM EST
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: (R-L) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria takes down 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)


UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman spoke to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto ahead of his world title defense at UFC 258. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ last competed back at UFC 251 in July and has been on the shelf ever since. Chiefly, he was supposed to face Gilbert Burns at UFC 251 and then UFC 256, however, the fight was moved.

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Although the reasons for the delay weren’t specified, Usman and Burns have both not seen active competition in a while. In the interim time period, several high caliber opponents have emerged out of the woodwork. Usman is confident he’ll scalp another title defense against Burns, will have a busy schedule going forward.

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Kamaru Usman looks back at UFC 251

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ certainly had a tough outing at UFC 251, as he was the first champion to head to Yas Fight Island. Not to mention, the change of opponent on a weeks’ notice certainly couldn’t have helped matters. Burns and Masvidal couldn’t have more contrasting styles, and Usman made sure to elaborate on his fight week experience.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: (R-L) Jorge Masvidal punches Kamaru Usman of Nigeria 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)

In conversation with ESPN, he said, “I was unhappy because as much as I put into preparing for fights because I prepared for a completely different fight. As much as I put into the fight, I was just on autopilot that fight. A lot of things played a factor in that whole fight. I had to fly all the way across the world to Abu Dhabi to where most guys were going two weeks before so they can try to get acclimated. I had to do it in four days.”

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“Originally it was supposed to be Burns, and I was setback another three days because the opponent fell out. We quarantined in Vegas, we quarantined again before we took off. I literally did all of that in four days. On top of that, fighting at 7 or 8 in the morning.”

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)

“On top of it, having the race cars going in and out of the hotel. It was just like an out of body experience for me going into that fight. After the fight I was like I’m way better than that, I have way more tools and way more skills to display than I showed out there.”

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While listing the reasons for his self-titled disappointing performance, it’s easy to see how things didn’t go to plan. The novelty of being the first to Fight Island didn’t help, and this led to a harder fight than expected. Kamaru Usman has been on record saying that he wants to run it back with Masvidal just to earn a statement finish.

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Darryl Pinto

1781 articles

Darryl Pinto is a senior MMA writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Mass Media (with a specialization in Journalism) out of Xavier’s College and has a year's experience in his current role. Darryl specializes in predictions, reporting, and covering UFC events live.

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