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UFC 251 live blog: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal

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Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

This is the UFC 251 live blog for Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal, the welterweight headliner for Saturday’s fight card at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

Usman attempts the second defense of his welterweight title after stopping Colby Covington this past December at UFC 245. He faces off with the surging Masvidal, who topped “Fighter of the Year” lists for an incredible 2019 that saw him stop Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz.

Check out the UFC 251 live blog below.

Round 1: Both men are astonishingly laid back to start this title fight and Masvidal immediately lands a low kick. Both men come out throwing shots early and Usman catches a kick and scores an early takedown. Masvidal active with strikes off his back for a moment and tthinks finally slow down after a big elbow from Usman. Masvidal just tying up Usman from the bottom and lands some good strikes. Usman stands and Masvidal scrambles. Now Usman is holding a front headlock but Masvidal gets to his feet. The two are striking with a reckless pace and Masvidal has landed a couple good body kicks. Usman backs Masvidal to the fence and forces a single leg. Masvidal defends but Usman is relentless. Super high pace to the fight. Usman can’t get the takedown but is leaning on Masvidal. Masvidal has landed some good elbows though. Masvidal is landing some good clinch strikes. Now they are back at range and Masvidal is cut. Usman is being more methodical now and Masvidal is landing sharp counters. Usman gets clipped with a big right hand. On the feet, Usman is getting drilled. Usman forces a clinch and the round ends.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Masvidal.

Round 2: A good first round from the challenger but it remains a huge question whether he can keep that pace up. Masvidal lands a good left kick to start the third. Usman gets deep on single-leg but phenomenal takedown defense from Gamebred. Usman shoots again through and forces a clinch against the cage. Usman is now clearly going to try and grind the challenger down. Masvidal doing a good job defending but seems to be breathing a little heavier with Usman just leaning on him. Masvidal lands a good elbow inside but he can’t keep Usman off of him. Usman rips a few to the body, separates, and lands a big right hand. Masvidal is cut by another clash of heads, largely because Usman is leading in with his head. Another clinch and Masvidal cannot get off the cage. The next 17 minutes of this fight could be a long slog. Usman is digging into the midsection with punches. This is a great strategy but man is it not all that interesting to watch. Usman also lands a few good shoulder bumps. Usman finally separates and Masvidal lands a good combo that gets the champion’s attention. Usman now striking with Masvidal but every time he does that he keeps eating punches. The round ends after a stutter-step right hand from Masvidal lands.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Usman, 19-19 overall.

Round 3: Masvidal is definitely getting tired and that short-notice may be coming into play. Masvidal keeps backing up to the fence. Usman charges in and Masvidal mugs a bit but now he’s got the clinch and is back to foot stoping and body shots. Masvidal shows more urgency though and lands some decent shots inside. Good body kick gets a reaction from Usman and he shoots again. More clinch work and Usman doesn’t even appear to be interested in a takedown, just wall and maul. Usman lands a shot low in the clinch and Marc Goddard steps in. Goddard has to reprimand both corners for continuing to coach despite being told not to. The fight resumes at range and Masvidal seems to have benefitted from the breather. Now, it’s been shockingly non-offensive with neither man doing anything. Eventually, Usman drives a double and gets the takedown against the fence but Masvidal is almost back up to his feet immediately. He does get up but Usman keeps underhooks and lands a big takedown into side-control. Masvidal forces a scramble but Usman stays on top, in guard. Usman isn’t accomplishing much on top though, just riding position for the round. Now, with 10 seconds left, Usman lands a few good elbows to end the round.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Usman, 29-28 Usman overall.

Round 4: Usman lands a monster body kick to star the round and hen grabs a snatch-single and forces Masvidal to the fence once more. Footstomps and over/under body shots, that’s what Usman does. Masvidal forces a break but he can’t get his back off the fence. Usman shoots a double, Masvidal goes for a guillotine briefly, but abandons its and Usman is on top. Masvidal stands and Usman has back position. Masvidal turns but he cannot stop Usman’s grind. More grinding. Masvidal finally gets free and lands a shot or two but he’s clearly exhausted. Usman content to pot shot at range for a spell. Head kick from Masvidal narrowly misses. Usman starting to turn up the pressure though. Takedown gets stuffed but a big right hand lands for Usman and then the champion forces another clinch. This is a smothering performance from Usman but not one that is going to win him many fans. Grinding against the fence in perpetuity. Big elbow lands for Usman! That was fun but the round ends with Usman clearly winning.

MMAFighting score the round 10-9 Usman, 39-37 Usman overall.

Round 5: Masvidal needs something special because Usman looks fresh as a daisy to start the fifth. Slow pace to start the final round. Usman looking for snatch singles, not doubles, perhaps wary of the knee. Slowly but surely he’s backed Masvidal to the fence again. Masvidal lands a good counter but now Usman is in on a takedown and he gets it in space Masvidal quickly shrimps to the fence and Usman is holding down while Masvidal controls posture. Usman lands a good elbow. Masvidal tying up and staying safe but he ain’t winning a title this way. Masvidal keeps moving on the bottom but ends up with Usman in side-control with two minutes left. Usman almost gets mount but Masvidal is too good of a grappler and he scrambles to his knees. Usman holding head control and both men are just jockeying for position. Slowly but surely, Masvidal gets back to his feet but Usman maintains the clinch. 30 seconds left and Masvidal is in desperation mode. At range, tries a flying knee, nothing. Masvidal can’t get magic to happen though and hte horn sounds. Both men talk in thte cage and seem to bury the hatchet.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Usman, 49-46 Usman overall.

OFFICIAL DECISION: Kamaru Usman defeats Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision, 50-45, 50-45, 49-46.