Jorge Masvidal vs Kamaru Usman Full Fight UFC 251 Part I
- Posted on Sep 05, 2020
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Kamaru Usman used his wrestling to retain his title against Jorge Masvidal. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski narrowly escaped with a split decision over Max Holloway. Petr Yan punished Jose Aldo to claim the vacant bantamweight title.
There was a lot of bad blood between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal heading into their UFC 251 clash at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi. But the main event at the location dubbed "Fight Island" wasn't much of a fight as Usman controlled Masvidal with his wrestling and clinch work to retain the UFC welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory.
Masvidal took the fight on six days' notice and looked to utilize his vaunted striking to finally win UFC gold. Usman, however, had no plans to get sucked into a firefight and closed the distance by spending much of the fight putting Masvidal's back on the cage or the mat.
Masvidal got off to a quick start and snapped off combinations, but Usman waited for his moment, caught a leg kick and dragged the fight to the mat. This became the fight in a nutshell as Usman continuously pressed forward and suffocated his rival.
Masvidal showcased excellent defense off his back and impressive takedown defense. But the fact was that he was never in control and found himself trying to escape the champion's grip. Usman didn't just rely on his control, either; he also found spots to sink in body shots, shoulder strikes and foot stomps to keep Masvidal on the defensive and never let him get comfortable at any point.
As the rounds progressed, Masvidal found himself in a deeper hole that he couldn't fight his way out of. By the fourth round, he was exhausted and lacked the snap on his punches and kicks to keep Usman from closing the gap.
The final round was more of the same as Usman secured yet another takedown and used his top game to keep Masvidal down. The "BMF" champion finally made it to his feet with seconds left on the clock but it was too late. Usman retained with scores of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.
Alexander Volkanovski needed a second-half surge to narrowly escape with his UFC featherweight title as he beat Max Holloway via split decision in the co-main event.
This rematch was a tale of two fights. Holloway opened strong with pressure and high-volume striking. Volkanovski — who won a unanimous decision over Holloway in December — was fighting an opponent who was incensed and out to prove that the first fight was a fluke. Holloway never stopped coming and fired after every Volkanovski leg kick attempt.
The second half belonged to Volkanovski as he landed at a higher clip and secured several takedowns over the former champion. The leg kicks continued to pile on but didn’t necessarily slow down Holloway.
The third round is the one that will be talked about. The number of strikes landed were nearly even, but two judges saw the round for Volkanovski while a third gave it to Holloway.
The bout was a high-powered chess match between two great featherweights who landed hard strikes and never stopped throwing. It was certainly more difficult the second time around for Volkanovski, but he had his hand raised in victory again, this time with scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 47-48.
Petr Yan weathered an early storm of leg kicks and came on strong in the second half of the fight to stop Jose Aldo in the fifth round to claim the vacant UFC bantamweight championship.
Both fighters were tentative in the first round; Aldo fished for leg kicks while Yan sought to find his range. Yan hurt Aldo late in the round when he reversed a takedown attempt and landed a hard punch to the body that caused the Brazilian to fold up. Fortunately for Aldo, the round came to an end.
Aldo came on strong in the second and third rounds by cutting loose leg kicks and working the body with hooks to the ribs. But Yan sucked it up, noticed Aldo fading and cranked up the pressure in the fourth round.
What started slowly began rolling into an avalanche of punishment as Yan landed with alarming frequency and sent Aldo into retreat mode. By the time the fifth round began, it was clear that Aldo was running on fumes, and Yan took full advantage.
An uppercut sent the former featherweight champion to the canvas, and Yan followed him to the mat with a savage display of ground and pound. Referee Leon Roberts could have stopped the fight at any point during this brutal barrage that went unanswered, and he will certainly be criticized for allowing this fight to go as long as it did. He mercifully stopped it at 3:24 of the fifth, marking the start of a new era in the bantamweight division.