The name on the contract didn’t matter much to Kamaru Usman as he prepared to fight at UFC 251.
While he spent weeks getting ready to face former teammate Gilbert Burns on July 11, the UFC’s reigning welterweight champion didn’t care all that much at all that he’s now facing a different opponent in Jorge Masvidal.
In reality, Usman had been calling for Masvidal for months and he even attempted to book the fight on short notice back in April when a new main event was needed for UFC 249.
On paper, Masvidal is a much different kind of threat than Burns, especially with his explosive striking as evidenced in his jaw-dropping five-second knockout to flatline Ben Askren last July. As impressive as that was, Usman is quick to remind Masvidal and anybody else who’s listening that he’s a much different animal than Askren.
“I’m definitely not Ben Askren,” Usman said when speaking to TMZ. “It’s a difference in opponents. I’m smarter than doing something that silly and being put in that situation. I’m definitely not Ben Askren and he’s going to have to figure that out the hard way.”
Since joining the UFC roster after winning The Ultimate Fighter reality show, Usman has been a dominant force overwhelming almost every opponent he’s faced.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” earned a completely lopsided decision to take the welterweight title from Tyron Woodley and then he defended his belt with a fifth-round TKO against Colby Covington this past December.
Even when Covington had his moments in that fight, Usman promises he was never in any kind of trouble and ultimately the result speaks volumes about his skills and ability. Usman expects much the same for the Masvidal fight.
“The fight will go a specific way and that’s the way I want it to go,” Usman said. “I’m dominant from start to finish in each and every one of my fights. I say that and even in that last [Colby] Covington fight, yes I took some licks but I was still dominant in every way. I controlled the fight until I put him out.
“That’s how I fight. That’s how I trained to fight. That’s how my mind is trained. That’s how my body’s trained. These guys don’t understand until they step inside of there with me and they realize they are stuck in there.”
While Usman’s welterweight title is definitely up for grabs in the UFC 251 main event, Masvidal will also set foot in the octagon as a champion after he claimed the first ever “BMF” title in 2019 with a TKO against Nate Diaz.
Of course, UFC president Dana White has said numerous times that the “BMF” championship was just a one-time title being introduced, Usman still plans on snatching it from Masvidal this weekend.
“That’s my sh*t. Absolutely,” Usman answered when asked if the ‘BMF’ title was also on the line. “They’re saying it’s the “BMF,” they’re really considering it as a real title, kind of like an interim thing or whatever.
“They’re really considering this a title so you know what? After I go out there and beat his ass and rag doll him, that sh*t is coming home with me so I can throw it in my closet.”
Both fighters have shared more than a few harsh words over the past few months including an altercation at Super Bowl media day back in January where Usman and Masvidal had to be separated by security.
Considering Usman was originally expected to fight a friend in Burns, has his mentality changed now that he’s got a more personal investment in beating Masvidal?
“There was a certain point where there was no problem, there was no beef to him,” Usman said about his history with Masvidal. “At this moment, he’s done all the talking, he’s let his management do all the talking to create whatever they wanted to create to get him in the state of mind to be in this fight. That’s fine and dandy but for me, as of this moment, it is all business.
“I see no face. So he’s going to get the same disciplinary actions anyone else was going to get. July 11, I see no face, it’s all business.”