‘I Felt a Little Sluggish’- Kamaru Usman Explains Backstage Struggles Before UFC 261 Fight

Published 04/25/2021, 10:31 AM EDT


UFC welterweight kingpin Kamaru Usman spoke to Megan Olivi backstage following his knockout win over Jorge Masvidal. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ earned a spectacular second-round knockout that put the ‘BMF’ to sleep and moved higher in the welterweight GOAT discussion. Kamaru Usman will likely hold the number one position on the pound-for-pound rankings after the dominance he’s managed to showcase.

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The first round of the contest was a rather even affair, with Masvidal in fact managing to pull ahead at the very end. However, Usman was able to pick up on Jorge Masvidal’s timing and movement and landed a flush shot. Chiefly, this is the first time in Masvidal’s illustrious career that he’s been cleanly knocked out cold.

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Kamaru Usman: On the right track

While talking to Megan Olivi, Usman revealed that he wasn’t feeling particularly in the zone prior to his octagon walkout. While octagon jitters is a common phenomenon even amongst the very best athletes, Usman described a certain lethargy. However, his backstage sentiments in no way hampered his performance under the bright lights of the cage.

“I was just trying to get into the fight. I felt a little sluggish in the back and I just didn’t want to warm up too much. That was also a thing for me in the past, I started too slow so this time I wanted to be perfect in the right moment. It’s hard to decide when that right moment is but we found it. In that first round, we were still getting into that fight and in the second round we found it.”

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As mentioned earlier, Usman didn’t allow the relatively neutral first-round play into his overall game plan. He’s managed to improve his striking to a significant degree under the tutelage of Trevor Wittman, and it’s showing in his performances. Jorge Masvidal has faced the whos’-who of strikers and has never faced such adversity.

Kamaru Usman will be looking to carry forth his forward momentum in his next fight against Colby Covington. There’s a built-in narrative heading into that fight, and fans can’t wait for both men to face off. Given the way Usman has looked in all departments, it’s safe to say he’ll be favored going forward.

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Darryl Pinto

1450 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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