Kamaru Usman defeated Jorge Masvidal at the main event at UFC 251 on fight island in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday night, protecting his title as the UFC welterweight champion. After the fight, both fighters put their pre-fight animosity behind them and shared a number of respectful words regarding their competitors.
«I hate coming up short, I'm not making any excuses, he was the better man tonight,» stated Masvidal after the bout. «I'm not gonna take anything away from him, he won fair and square,» Masvidal went on to say.
The fight, won by unanimous decision after five rounds, was for the welterweight championship belt, which Usman holds and has now tied the legendary Georges St. Pierre for the fighter with the most welterweight title defences. «Just continue to do what I've been doing and that's dominating opponents and winning, and that's how Georges (St-Pierre) got there,» said Usman on the comparison between the two fighters.
Asked on how the animosity between Usman and Masvidal disappeared so quickly, Usman explained that after a fight like last night's, mutual respect is earned, before hinting at a future rematch. «I think it's just, you know, just mutual respect. It's hard not to respect a man when you share 25 minutes with them in that octagon, punching each other in the face. And so, just mutual respect, we both feel like we will do it again and absolutely I would like a lot more time to prepare for a guy like that and be able to dominate in a way that I want to.»
In UFC 251's other big match up on Saturday, Australian Alexander Volkanovski retained the featherweight belt after beating Max Holloway in the co-main event. Earlier in the night, Russian Petr Yan beat Jose Aldo to take home the vacant bantamweight championship belt.