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Jorge Masvidal’s head coach details FaceTime cornering at UFC 251, confidence in rematch against Kamaru Usman

UFC 251: Usman v Masvidal Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Instead of coaching Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251 on Fight Island, his head coach Mike Brown had to watch from home after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

He was definitely shocked after getting the results of his test back, which prevented him from boarding the flight with Masvidal and the rest of their team as he prepared to face off with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman on just six days’ notice.

After returning home, Brown experienced a few symptoms related to the deadly disease but overall he was feeling fit and back to full health rather quickly. Unfortunately, the real pain was what he felt not being there with Masvidal for the biggest fight of his career.

“A bit achy, had the chills, a little sweaty but by the next day it was pretty much gone,” Brown told MMA Fighting on Monday. “It was nothing. For me, it was really mild. I was just so sad that I couldn’t go with Jorge.

“That’s it heartbreaking. This is as big as it gets. This is finally getting the big shot. I mean it wasn’t ideal circumstances, but it was still a chance to win the UFC world title. It’s the most prestigious title in the world that you can win. It would be great to be there with him.”

While it was tough not being there with Masvidal during fight week, the hardest part for Brown was missing out on the chance to coach and corner him during the five round battle with Usman.

With options limited, Brown ended up coaching via FaceTime over the phone but thanks to a time delay between the live action and the broadcast on ESPN+ pay-per-view, there was only so much input he could offer.

“I just tried to stay out of the way. I also didn’t want to be a distraction,” Brown said. “I was on FaceTime with [Jorge’s manager] Abe [Kawa] and the thing is my computer was on like a 30-second delay so I couldn’t really watch it on my computer. I had to watch it through Abe’s phone. It was hard for me to see much quality of what was going on. I just did my best.

“If I saw little things here and there, I would whisper my thoughts to Abe but it wasn’t much. I was just trying to give a few two cents here and there but it was tough to see what was going on during real time. I couldn’t really see what was going on. It was tough.”

As far as the advice he was offering, Brown says it was mostly technical input between rounds, but he wasn’t truly able to coach Masvidal given the circumstances.

“It wasn’t much,” Brown said. “It was just some things that we could do for takedown defense, things to stay off from the wall, keeping in the center. Nothing crazy.

“Nothing that’s going to change the outcome of the fight. Just trying to give my two cents and try to help out anyway I could.”

As far as Masvidal’s performance, Brown saw moments where the “BMF” champion was able to show flashes of brilliance, but the odds were definitely stacked against him, especially when facing a monster like Usman on short notice.

After the fight, Masvidal offered no excuses whatsoever and gave credit to Usman on a job well done. Brown did much the same while giving his take on what Masvidal did best and where he ultimately came up short.

“I think he shows what he’s capable of but it was clear that in my eyes, he didn’t have a full camp,” Brown said. “He looked fatigued pretty quickly. Whether it was the weight cut or the short camp, whatever it was, he was uncharacteristically tired faster than he should have been. But that’s to be expected on a really short camp. Yes, he was in the gym but he wasn’t in the gym everyday.

“There’s a big difference between going to the gym once a day and working on some things or going in there and training for a world title. It’s two much different training days. It’s not that he was in terrible shape or anything but he also wasn’t in great shape. In a fight like that, you need to be in great shape. You need to be in the best shape of your life for five rounds against a guy like Usman, who’s known for his conditioning. But I think in the exchanges, Jorge showed some glimpses of what he’s capable of.”

Usman has proven time and again that he’s an elite fighter following dominant wins over former champion Tyron Woodley as well as his knockout against Colby Covington. Overall, Usman has won 12 fights in a row in the division, which is a feat only Georges St-Pierre had previously accomplished in the UFC.

“To be honest, Usman doesn’t lose many rounds,” Brown said about the welterweight champion. “He lost a couple rounds to Colby [Covington] but that was almost because he fighting out of the ordinary game plan for him. He decided he was just going to stand up.

“When he puts forth his A-game and what he’s good at, he rarely, rarely loses rounds.”

Because he respects Usman’s skills so much, Brown would love the chance to get Masvidal ready for a rematch in the future.

With a full training camp and being there during fight week, Brown is very confident Masvidal could get the job done and achieve his dream of becoming a UFC champion.

“Conditioning was a factor in that fight, for sure,” Brown said. “You could see Jorge had the ability to get back to his feet. He had the technique to do it. It looks like he had a big advantage on his feet but I just think he didn’t have the gas to keep the foot on the pedal for long enough.

“Of course I would be confident [in a rematch]. He showed he has an advantage on his feet and he also shows that he has the ability to defend takedowns and he also has the ability to get back to his feet if he does get taken down. Those are the three key areas of concern. I think Jorge showed what he’s capable of in all situations.”

As reported earlier this week, the UFC 251 pay-per-view was a massive success with final sales figures likely making the event one of the top selling cards of all time.

Given that kind of financial windfall, and the attention Masvidal has received over the past year, Brown doesn’t see why the UFC wouldn’t want to revisit the fight with Usman sometime in the near future.

“It sounds like the numbers were very good,” Brown said. “If it makes sense for everybody, hell yeah they should run it again. I would think that all parties involved would want that. It’s looking like the numbers were good enough to be one of the top five pay-per-view draws of all time.

“I think he’s one of the biggest stars in the sport. Maybe second to Conor [McGregor] as far as drawing power. He’s earned it. He’s paid his dues, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

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