Kamaru Usman has set out to break Jorge Masvidal’s spirit when the two come to blows in UFC 251 on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi.
The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman had been set to defend his Welterweight belt against Gilbert Burns, who was forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Masvidal stepped in to replace Burns just six days before the fight as he looks to continue a remarkable comeback after a 16-month absence from the sport following his 2017 defeat to Stephen Thompson.
Defending champion Usman is unbeaten in his UFC career so far, his last victory coming via TKO against Colby Covington in December.
“The fans know if you have someone that’s worthy of a challenge or not, and the fact that Jorge (Masvidal) had such an amazing year last year, in 2019, it puts him into that category to where he is the next biggest challenge for me.
“I’d rather beat a guy with such a wide margin that they never ever dream of competing with me again. And that’s kind of how I approach the fight game.
“Of course, I’m not going to lie, I’m going to take it – if I knock him out in the first round, I’m absolutely going to take it and go home.
“But I want to break him mentally. I want to break his spirit. It’s something about a man, when you break his spirit there’s just something about him – every time he walks by you he knows, he knows that you are a better man than him. So that’s ultimately what I want to do to him.”
The standout 2019 Usman alludes to for Masvidal included knockout victories over Darren Till and Ben Askren, the latter setting a UFC record for fastest knockout in history at five seconds, followed by a TKO win over Nate Diaz.
Masvidal recently addressed what he deemed distasteful comments from Usman regarding his ethnicity, insisting his opponent has ‘crossed lines’.
“Like I said in the Askren fight, before and after, it’s never personal it’s always business,” said Masvidal. “It’s just people that I didn’t get along too well with.
“But Usman for a fact has crossed lines that no other competitor that I’ve fought has talked about. He’s talking about my ethnicity – whether I’m this, I’m that. He’s telling people that I’m saying I’m God.
“You can’t find a video or Twitter thing with me ever saying that I said I’m God. So this guy’s just doing a lot of things that’s going to cause him to get hurt in a violent way.
“And if the referee trips on the way to stopping me, and I get to get a couple extra extra punches, I wouldn’t mind.”