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Morning Report: Kamaru Usman says that fighting him is ‘green panty night’ for Jorge Masvidal

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

Later this month, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will defend his title in a rematch with “BMF” champion Jorge Masvidal, and as the fight continues to get nearer, the war of words between the two rivals continues to escalate.

Usman and Masvidal first faced each other last year at UFC 251 when Masvidal stepped in on a week’s notice to replace Gilbert Burns. Usman won a lack-luster decision that left a bad taste in the mouths of fans who had been excited for the much-hyped fight. So after defending his belt against Burns in February, Usman called for a rematch with Masvidal and now the two are set to serve as the main event for UFC 261. The choice by Usman to rematch an opponent he’s already beaten, and who hasn’t fought since their first fight, has received a lot of criticism from fans and other welterweights who have said that Usman chose a rematch with Masvidal because he’s the biggest star in the division, something Usman takes a little bit of umbrage with.

“There’s truth and there’s not truth in that,” Usman told ESPN. “You can’t say you are the star and that’s who I want to be. That’s wrong because I have what everyone in the world wants, so you can’t say that. Of course, does he bring more eyes right now? Absolutely. I’m a realist, I’ve always been a realist. Absolutely he brings more eyes right now. If I look at all the pools of guys I’ve been through all of them, now I’m just lapping them all. If we’re running a race right now, I’m lapping everybody right now. He’s the first guy, so he’s dead last right now, the first guy I’m about to lap. I’m lapping him.

“So yeah, does he bring a little bit more eyes? Absolutely. I don’t take that away from him. I’m proud of everything he has done, absolutely proud of him. Respect in that aspect but let’s be honest, I have what everyone wants. It’s green panty night when you fight me. He’s not getting the pay-per-views and stuff like that on his own. He has to fight me.”

It would be foolish to argue that the financial incentives at play here weren’t a part of the choice for Usman though. Usman and Masvidal’s first fight drew a reported 1.3 million pay-per-view buys, a categorical success by any measure and that was for an event with little time to build up. In contrast, UFC 261 will feature three title fights and the return of a full stadium of fans, a set up that figures to be a marquee event for the UFC, something Usman says ”absolutely doesn’t hurt.” However, Usman maintains that the primary impetus for this rematch from his side is to put forth a more dominant performance.

“Honestly, I don’t think I broke him the way that I wanted to break him,” Usman said. “There’s something that satisfies me when I fight guys and that’s the thing that I believe years ago Jon spoke about this. When you’re in there with that opponent there’s an intimate moment where only you and that guy know what’s going on. Only you and that guy know how hard he hits you, only you and that guy know how hard I’m coming at him. And with Masvidal, I don’t think I fully broke him the way wanted to. With everyone else, I know when I broke them. I know when I broke their spirit, I know when I broke their heart, but with him I don’t feel like a fully got there.

“That’s what I’m really after, that’s what’s addicting to me, that’s why I continue to do this. Being able to break the guy to where when they wake up in the morning and they have to think about me, they just know, ‘That guy is better than me.’”

Should Usman get his satisfaction in the rematch, as the oddsmakers predict he will, the question will once again turn to who the champion will defend against next. There are no shortage of possible next opponents for him, including another rematch with top-contender Colby Covington, a bout that Covington has been extremely vocal about wanting. But Usman says that’s not on the table unless Covington gets another win, and even offered to help the UFC figure out his next contender by playing matchmaker for them.

“I want to see activity and he’s not showing activity,” Usman said of Covington. “That’s a problem. The champion can’t be the most active guy in the division. Like I said, I’ve lapped everybody and now I’m coming back around. You can’t just sit there and say, ‘I hope you pick me, pick me, pick me.’ Show me activity. Give me a reason. It’s not necessarily me. I know what I’m capable of doing, I’ve done it before. You can ask his jaw, I’ve done that before. Now, it’s for him to show the people that he deserves another chance to fight for the title. You can’t sit back and say ‘Oh, I beat Tyron Woodley, that’s it, I deserve a shot at the title.’ No. That doesn’t give you a shot at the title.

“If the UFC needs me to come in, I can matchmake for them. ‘Okay, this guy fights this guy, this guy fights this guy, winner of this, I’ll fight, winner of this can wait and I’ll fight next.’ So if the UFC needs me to do that. I will absolutely do that for them.”

First though, Usman must get through Masvidal a second time. Their rematch takes place on April 24th in Jacksonville, Fla.


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Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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