Just days away from their rematch at UFC 261, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal engaged in a fiery war of words at the pre-fight press conference.
After meeting just nine months ago, Usman called for a second fight against Masvidal after his last win because he felt unsatisfied with his performance in his first. Masvidal was more than happy to accept after he took the first fight with Usman on just six days’ notice, which also meant cutting an extreme amount of weight and flying halfway around the world for the event taking place in Abu Dhabi.
“Not having to cut 20 pounds in six days means a lot to me,” Masvidal said on Friday. “All the energy I wasted on cutting weight is going to be spent putting the finish on him.”
With fans piled into the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., Masvidal was definitely enjoying the atmosphere as his home state fans showed him appreciation.
“You can hear it yourself, see it yourself – these guys want violence,” Masvidal said. “They don’t cheer for me because I’m so good looking or the food that I eat, nothing, that’s not why they cheer for me. They cheer for me because I give everybody their hard earned money.
“I come in here to perform and bring the violence that they crave, and that’s the only reason why I got all these fans behind me.”
Of course, Usman wasn’t all that impressed by Masvidal’s guarantees, especially after earning a lopsided decision in their previous meeting.
“The fans can’t fight for you,” Usman shouted. “You said that last time. What happened?”
“I’m going to whoop your ass all by myself, I don’t need nobody,” Masvidal said in response. “I didn’t get the broken nose, you did. I’m going to bust your face up, break more bones than last time. Remember this face.”
Usman could only laugh in response, reminding his opponent that he walked into the first fight with a broken nose and adding the rematch is only happening because he asked for it — not because Masvidal earned it.
“Let’s be honest,” Usman said as he looked at Masvidal. “You got 14 losses in your career, seven in the UFC, you’re 3-3 in your last six, you are sitting there today because I chose you. I’m coming around the track and you’re the first guy that I’m about to lap. Period.”
The prize on the line in the UFC 261 main event will be the welterweight title, but Masvidal was sitting on stage with his own belt, a silver-plated strap that signified him as the first and only “baddest motherf*cker” champion after he beat Nate Diaz in 2019.
While never recognized as an official UFC championship, Masvidal still proudly touts that title every chance he gets. But he said it won’t be on the line when he competes on Saturday night.
“You gotta be a BMF to compete for that one, and this dude ain’t it,” Masvidal said about Usman.
Usman could only scoff at that remark, pointing out the only welterweight title that matters planted directly in front of him on stage.
“What belt?” Usman said. “There’s three belts, three shiny belts here. This is what’s important. Not that piece of sh*t.”
Title belts aside, Usman was adamant that his purpose with the rematch against Masvidal comes down to proving something to himself, but there’s no personal grudge to settle on Saturday night.
“I didn’t feel like I broke his will,” Usman said. “On Saturday night, once I break his will, absolutely I’ll be satisfied.
“No, it’s not personal at all. If he’s making it personal, that’s on him. For me, it’s not personal. It’s all about business. He’s that next guy that I’ve picked.”
As for Masvidal, he’s confident that he’ll be able to fix the mistakes the plagued him last time and avenge the loss to Usman but that doesn’t mean they’ll be finished by any means.
A win for Masvidal this weekend would only tie the all-time series at 1-1, and despite all his ill feelings toward Usman, he would never allow that to be the final time they meet.
“Definitely, he gave me a chance,” Masvidal said about giving Usman an immediate rematch should he win at UFC 261. “Whether we see eye-to-eye on things or not, he gave me another chance to compete, so I’ll definitely give him the chance to compete again.”