Masvidal wants immediate rematch with Usman


Jorge Masvidal said Tuesday that he wants an immediate rematch with UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, even if it would mean passing on a potential bout with Conor McGregor, which Dana White said could be the biggest fight in UFC history.

Usman won a unanimous decision over Masvidal early Sunday morning on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“I want that damn belt, and I’m stubborn,” Masvidal told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “And I know I’m better than Usman, and I want to prove it. I want to fight again.

“I’m not going to take nothing from him; he won the first one. Let’s do it again.”

Masvidal was respectful in making sure Usman received the proper credit, despite Masvidal taking the fight on short notice. Masvidal and the UFC agreed to a new contract July 4, exactly one week before UFC 251, and the lack of a proper fight camp seemed to play a role in Masvidal’s conditioning as he appeared gassed after he turned in a solid first round. But Usman is 12-0 in the UFC and one of the best fighters on the planet, so even a full camp for Masvidal might not have changed the outcome.

Still, Masvidal wants the opportunity to find out, and he said that as long as Usman is the opponent, he’d like to fight again this year.

Masvidal originally was targeted for UFC 251, but negotiations with the UFC fell apart and Gilbert Burns was tabbed on June 9 as the new challenger. But Burns tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3, prompting a new round of negotiations between Masvidal and the UFC.

“You can tell me that McGregor right now would make X, Y, Z dollars, the biggest pay-per-view you get in history, right, and I’m going to get paid forever,” Masvidal said. “I feel I’m getting compensated well enough now that if I keep making the right decisions I’ve been doing, this money is forever money. So it’s not about money.”

Masvidal’s improbable story included a breakout year in 2019, when he scored three knockouts to become a star in his 16th year in MMA. He wanted to cash in on the momentum with his biggest-money fight, but now his priorities apparently have changed.

“We’ll talk to [the UFC],” Masvidal said. “I’m sure Usman would be onboard, because this is the most money he’s made.

“So if he wants to make that big-boy money again, gotta run it back, come on, let’s go. So in business that makes sense. I don’t know what his management is thinking or what he’s thinking, but obviously that’s what I want to do.”

Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, who also represents Burns, has been adamant that Burns deserves the next title shot. Leon Edwards, who has won eight in a row, also wants his shot.

“I’m not going to be judging anybody,” Masvidal said. “Is Gilbert good? Yes. Is Leon good? Yes. These guys are good, but I’m going to vote for myself. I want to fight Usman next.”

Immediately after UFC 251, while still in the Octagon, Masvidal and Usman shared some words of respect. Masvidal seemed to say he would be back after a win or two. But, apparently, that timeline has changed.

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