This weekend sees one of the biggest UFC shows of 2021 go down, as UFC 261 takes place in Jacksonville, Florida.
The honest truth is that it’s highly unlikely. The last time the two men faced off – at UFC 251 in July 2020 – Usman whitewashed Gamebred.
So with this in mind, here are three reasons why Kamaru Usman will easily beat Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261.
#1 Usman will have fully trained for Masvidal this time around
When Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal faced off at UFC 251 last July, the fight obviously took place on pretty late notice.
That’s because Usman was initially pegged to defend his title against Gilbert Burns, only for Durinho to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.
After some negotiations, Masvidal then accepted the fight on around a week’s notice and ended up losing to Usman convincingly.
In the months that have followed, Masvidal has claimed on multiple occasions that the result of the fight would’ve been different had he been given a full training camp to prepare for The Nigerian Nightmare.
That’s all well and good, but it’s also easy to forget that Usman also didn’t have much time to prepare for Masvidal.
Of course, Usman did at least have a full training camp behind him. But in today’s UFC, top fighters like the Nigerian train specifically for a certain opponent. And it’s fair to say that training for Burns would’ve been very different than training for Masvidal.
To face Burns – a grappler – Usman likely would’ve prepped to keep the fight standing. But against a striker like Masvidal, it’s obvious that The Nigerian Nightmare would look to use a more wrestling-heavy gameplan.
And when you consider that Usman comfortably used his wrestling to beat Masvidal at UFC 251 – most likely without even training much wrestling in his camp – then surely it stands to reason that with full preparation, The Nigerian Nightmare will win again in similar fashion.
#2 Masvidal offered nothing at UFC 251 and hasn’t shown improvement since
The first Kamaru Usman/Jorge Masvidal fight wasn’t the most one-sided title fight in UFC history by a long shot.
In fact, it was probably the least dominant performance from Usman that he’s put on since he won the UFC Welterweight title in 2019.
However, the fact is that Masvidal simply didn’t have much success in the fight at all.
He landed the odd good strike, was able to stand back up after being taken down and attempted a couple of submissions. But overall, Usman comfortably defeated him.
It’s true that we’ve seen fighters in the past lose in a UFC title fight only to improve and defeat the champion in a rematch. Georges St. Pierre and Robbie Lawler both did this in the Welterweight division, in fact.
However, after losing their fights for the UFC Welterweight title, both St. Pierre and Lawler went on lengthy winning streaks to earn their rematch with the champion.
And both men displayed clear improvements, largely in the areas that caused their downfall in their first attempts to win the title.
Masvidal, however, has not shown any improvements since UFC 251. In fact, Gamebred hasn’t even fought since then.
Sure, he may well have worked non-stop on his takedown and clinch defense in the months that have followed UFC 251. But there’s no proof of any improvement and without fighting in the interim, it’s hard to imagine that he can be prepared for what Usman can bring.
And so, with that considered, it’s hard to imagine Gamebred having any more success than he did the first time around.
#3 Usman’s striking is improving all the time
Naturally, most people would probably suggest that it would be an error for Kamaru Usman to attempt to stand and strike with Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261.
That’s because Masvidal has become well known as one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC.
He’s always had excellent technical strikes – particularly with his boxing game – but he’s now the owner of some of the most devastating knockouts in UFC history, over the likes of Darren Till and Ben Askren.
However, if the fight does remain standing, Usman certainly wouldn’t be lost by any means.
The Nigerian Nightmare has seen his striking game improve rapidly since his UFC career began in 2015.
Usman picked up his first KO win in the UFC back in 2017 when he knocked out Sergio Moraes. But he’s gotten even better since then, and recently knocked out both Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns with some thunderous punches.
Granted, The Nigerian Nightmare also got dropped by Burns early in their fight. But Durinho hits hard and it was hugely impressive to see Usman recover quickly and come back to smash him in the later rounds.
Is Masvidal capable of knocking Usman out? Of course. He carries knockout power in his strikes and is capable of taking out any fighter if he lands the right shot.
But the same can definitely be said for Usman. And so if Masvidal somehow does manage to prevent the takedowns of The Nigerian Nightmare, that’s certainly not a guarantee that he’ll win.
Essentially, thanks to his improving striking game, Usman just has far more ways to win this fight than Masvidal. And so the only conclusion is that he’ll repeat UFC 251 – and win handily once again.