Next Saturday, UFC 261 will take place in Jacksonville, Florida with the Welterweight championship on the line. It will be a rematch from last year with the champ Kamal Usman fighting Jorge Masvidal one more time.
This is a championship fight that had many fans scratching their head and questioning why it’s happening. We’ll detail that along with a breakdown of the matchup on this latest Engage analyst.
Most fight fans were puzzled as to why this fight is happening again? The first fight was a rather decisive win for Usman, where he won every moment of the fight. Here are the reasons why this fight is happening again.
In the UFC, rankings matter as long as there isn’t someone that has star power and sells PPVs. If someone has star power, then they seemingly go to the front of the line.
Masvidal’s star power has sort of dimmed as of late due to some antics on Twitter and social media. Everything from promoting Trump in the election and backing Jack Paul in his boxing match with Ben Askren. Also various comments directed at the MMA community that weren’t taken well.
Although the UFC still thinks Jorge can sell tickets, so we will see Saturday if this is true or not.
UFC 261 will be the first event that will be the first event, where there will be a full live audience. This is due to Florida recently removing all Covid sanctions.
Since this event is in Florida, the UFC needed a fighter that is from Florida and has a following. There is only one UFC fighter from Florida with a big following and that is Jorge Masvidal.
The UFC has not earned any live gate revenue in over a year since Covid lockdowns were put in place. They are desperate to get live gate money back and they hope that Masvidal will be the fighter to help them.
The other reason this rematch is happening is because there really aren't many contenders in the welterweight division. After Gilbert Burn lost his match against Burns, there really wasn’t a true #1 contender to fight Usman.
There is Colby Covington, but Usman stopped him and broke Covington’s jaw in the last match. Then there’s Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, but the UFC really doesn’t want to give him another title shot after losing 2.
Leon Edwards is another contender, but fans weren’t really buzzing to see him fight for the title. That just left Masvidal and since he’s from Florida, the UFC thought maybe he’ll at least sell tickets.
Kamaru Usman has been on quite a dominant run as the UFC welterweight champion. Since beating the ex champ Tyron Woodley, Usman has had 3 successful title defenses. Two of the three fights were won by TKO.
The champ is also undefeated in the UFC winning all 13 of his UFC fights. Although some critics of Usman have called his style boring he uses his wrestling to dominate opponents. Winning 9 of his 13 UFC fights by rather uncompelling decisions.
Although in 2 of his 3 title defenses, Usman has shown that his striking has improved dramatically. Dropping both Covington and Burns with strikes before finishing them on the ground.
Honestly, you can’t really blame Usman for being a dominant champion. He needs good dance partners to make his fights interesting. The Covington and Burns fights had exciting moments, so he just needs the right dance partner.
In the previous fight between these two, Masvidal took the fight on a little over a week's notice. In that time with no camp, he had to cut over 20lbs to make weight for the title fight.
At this time, Masvidal’s star was as bright as it ever was. Winning 3 exciting fights by stoppages and then taking a fight on less than a week’s notice. Living up to his nickname of “Gamebred.”
Masvidal feels like things will be different with him having a full camp, so we will find out Saturday.
From the first fight, we already know what each fighter’s strengths are going into the bout, but let’s list them again.
Now here are both fighter’s weaknesses going into the championship bout.
If you can say there is one weakness in Usman’s game it is his striking. He isn’t a bad striker, but he also isn’t the best technically either.
He will need to continue to work on it for future fights. There could be someone out there that can stuff his wrestling and grappling to outstrike him.
Going into the rematch, the obvious weakness in Masvidal’s game is his grappling and wrestling. His skills aren’t bad, but they are nowhere near the level of Usman. He could’ve worked his entire camp on grappling and Usman would most likely still outwork him.
Both fighters have to follow their gameplans to a T if they want to come out winners this Saturday. Here are the keys to victory for both fighters.
The odds really aren’t much different than the odds in the first. Usman is favorite on every top oddsmaker site again.
To the surprise of nobody, Kamaru Usman is again the betting favorite going into this fight. After winning every round of the first fight 50-45 and 50-43 on some expert’s scorecards, the lines are obvious.
Betting on Usman is a safe bet, but you probably won’t be winning much money off of it. Although if you’re a risk taker, then a bet on Masvidal could net you a nice payday. It’s not likely, but if you have disposable income, a bet on Masvidal won’t hurt.
From everything we saw in the first fight, there is no reason to think it would be any different. Masvidal hasn’t fought since he lost to Kamaru and Usman just defended his title against Gilbert Burns.
The fact that Usman has stayed active more than Masvidal is a red flag that he is more fight ready. That isn’t to stay Masvidal won’t be ready to fight, but he’s been preoccupied with other activities.
Masvidal seems to have taken to his stardom and is taking advantage of it. Maybe to the detriment of his fighting career.
There is just nothing anyone sees that this fight isn’t another dominant win by Usman. He can cancel out Jorge’s striking and clinch him up at will. There’s seemingly nothing Masvidal can do to stop the champ from doing what he wants to do.
Don’t be surprised to see another dominant decision win by the champ Kamaru Usman.
That is not to say that Jorge can’t surprise Usman on the feet. He wasn’t supposed to beat Ben Askren, but KO’d him in under 10 seconds. Stranger things have happened and if Jorge stopped Usman by strikes it wouldn’t be too surprising.
This Saturday, April 24th in Jacksonville, Florida is the rematch between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. It is the first live crowd that will be at full capacity. Look for the crowd to be amped and be excited to see a live MMA event.
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