Despite the fact that he largely dominated Masvidal in their previous meeting at UFC 251, Usman still feels like he has unfinished business with the “BMF” champion because of the circumstances surrounding that particular fight.
“I said put some respect on my name for a reason,” Usman said at the UFC 258 post-fight press conference. “That fight, he had a built in excuse. That’s the only reason he took that fight. We tried to make that fight twice before. He said no. When Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and I think it was [Tony] Ferguson fell out, we tried. I called Dana [White] and I said ‘hey, it’s two weeks’ notice, I really haven’t been training but I’ll step in if you need me to’ and they tried to make that fight but Masvidal said no.
“He did an interview to where he said ‘oh the numbers weren’t right and this and that.’ He’s been saying no. The only reason he took that fight on Fight Island is because it was a built in excuse. He was training the whole time but he’s saying ‘I only had six days’ notice, that’s why that went that way.’”
The UFC had attempted to book the fight previously including negotiations with Masvidal for the fight this past July that was supposed to headline the first ever card on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement and Gilbert Burns was named the No. 1 contender instead.
Sadly, Burns then fell off the card after testing positive for COVID-19 and Masvidal was secured as a late replacement before losing a unanimous decision to Usman.
While nothing was ideal about the way that fight came together, Usman says Masvidal’s claims that he only had six days to prepare doesn’t even begin to address the issues he faced leading up to that same event.
“You would think he learned that the first time because I dealt with worse,” Usman said. “Everyone was saying ‘oh he took the fight on six days’ notice’ but guess what? I took it on six days’ notice. I was here in Las Vegas flying back home. They called me while I was in between fights in Dallas. I had to leave my bags, leave the airport, call my parents to pick me up at the airport, they picked me up, went straight to Target, bought a scale, stepped on the scale. Not to mention, I ate like a pig the night before because I said I had no fight. I’m 195 pounds when I step on the scale.
“Call the coach down there, Tony Cabello, I said ‘hey Tony, we need to work out.’ Worked out like crazy that night, got off about five or six pounds, then I got on the scale, I said we’re within striking distance. Next day, flew back to Vegas then flew to Abu Dhabi. I had maybe approximately four days, I didn’t sleep at all to prepare for that fight and he had a built in excuse.”
Regardless of the circumstances, Usman won the fight and it appeared he was at peace with Masvidal after spending 25 minutes in the cage together.
That mutual respect seemingly faced in the weeks and months after that event ended and now Usman is more determined than ever to fight Masvidal again to prove he’s the superior fighter.
“’Oh I took the fight on six days’ notice, give me three weeks and see what I’ll do.’ I’ll give you a whole training camp,” Usman said. “This time I want to stop him for real because I think that’s the only thing that’s going to close his mouth. Pretending walking around here like he’s Jesus or something. Well, I’m going to put him in a coffin this time.
“This time I will stop him. I promise you. That’s why I was disappointed in myself that last fight because I know I can stop him but with all the circumstances took place, I just went out there and dominated him from start to finish. This time I will stop him if he wants to step up.”
The challenge has been made but Usman still isn’t convinced that a rematch with Masvidal will actually happen.
While Masvidal’s management team was already calling for the Usman fight after possibly serving as coaches on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, the reigning welterweight champion isn’t so sure that’s anything more than just lip service.
“He don’t want that fight. I guarantee you he doesn’t want that fight,” Usman said. “I wouldn’t say if I didn’t want it. Have I lied to you guys yet? About anything? Nothing.
“I said what I wanted to do and that’s what I’m going to do. Let’s see if it materializes.”