The UFC 261 main event will be a rematch of a welterweight title fight between champion Kamaru Usman and 'BMF' champion Jorge Masvidal, nearly one year after their first meeting at UFC 251 in 2020. After Usman controlled the fight against Masvidal with his pace and game plan, picking up a unanimous decision victory and then he went on to make history. Following his win over Masvidal, Usman would defeat top-contender Gilbert Burns this past February and set the new record for the longest winning streak in UFC welterweight history, but now Masvidal looks to bring it to an end.
Before the title fight, before the 'BMF' title, and before the three-fight winning streak, Jorge Masvidal had to make real decisions that not many can recognize the significant changes it made in his career. After falling on the wrong end of split decisions throughout his career, Masvidal took time off from fighting, joined a reality show that made him think about turning things around in his career, and his time on that show is what "Gamebred" credits for the turnaround of his career.
After time away, the finishes came in stellar fashion
After his stint on the reality show, Masvidal would make his return to competition in 2019, nearly two full years between fights, and knew change was needed. That change began when he faced Darren Till in Till's backyard of London, England. It was in that fight that Masvidal showed the change he focused on during his time away, and in the second round, Masvidal landed big punches to put Till away and silence the crowd.
Following the win over Till, he would go on to make major waves not just in the UFC but over the internet and across the entire sports world when he landed a flying-knee five-second knockout of Ben Askren, the first loss of Askren's professional career. Putting a halt to Askren's arrival in the UFC, Masvidal would then be matched up with Nate Diaz which came with the birth of the 'BMF' belt.
Focusing on Masvidal's performance against Askren, Diaz knew he had a real challenge and called for the fight against him as well as the creation of a 'BMF' belt. The fight was made for UFC 244 in New York City, a stage made for only the brightest superstars. While Diaz had some moments in the fight, it was predominantly a showcase for Masvidal, who then took his three-fight winning streak to a title fight opportunity that came on short notice. It's not often a fighter, or any person, can take two years away from their profession, analyze what went wrong, and focus on righting the wrongs that held them back previously. Jorge Masvidal did just that and he worked his way to the top.
Even after victory, Kamaru Usman asked for the rematch
With a unanimous decision victory to his credit in which the scorecards read 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46, Usman could've shifted his focus elsewhere, but he wasn't ready to settle with his first performance. Knowing that Masvidal had to continue to bring up the short notice he had for the fight, Usman wanted to put the talk to rest and after breaking the welterweight winning streak record, Usman called to run it back with Masvidal.
Wanting to put the talk to rest is one thing, but there has to be another reason that Usman wanted his former foe. Unlike other fighters who might have done differently in his position, Masvidal did not chase other fights or opponents and simply waited for the opportunity to arise for him to get a shot at redemption, and now it's here. Masvidal didn't risk his place at the top of contenders in the division, he didn't lose his star power despite not fighting for almost a full year, and if history tells any part of his story, Jorge Masvidal comes back stronger than ever after spending time away. He didn't yell or scream for the rematch, Usman is looking to make a statement, but so is the 'BMF' champion, who has promised violence in the main event.
No more excuses
Jorge Masvidal has said it, Kamaru Usman has said it, and the UFC has promoted it, there are no excuses coming into this weekend's main event. With a promo video put together based squarely off putting the excuses to rest, this will be the storyline until they step inside the Octagon and put the first fight completely behind them.
The thing about excuses is that normally, those who are weak are the ones who run to use them for their shortcomings. Jorge Masvidal is not weak, physically or mentally, and it's safe to say that excuses have never been a part of his vocabulary while he awaits this rematch. He has said a full camp makes things differently, he has promised violence, and all that together lines up to make the main event a rematch that can not be predicted before it happens.
Predictions will happen, they're almost necessary from the analysts covering this event, but when you take Jorge Masvidal the person and give him everything he needs as a fighter, that makes "Gamebred" and that version of him is what this rematch deserves, it's almost as if Masvidal would say, is super necessary for this fight.
Kamaru Usman will have his confidence, as he should, while he continues to cement his legacy in the very respectable history of the UFC's welterweight division, but a shot at redemption is the chapter of the story that the ink bleeds for Jorge Masvidal. Not many fighters, let alone people, are willing to make the sacrifices that he made and change his career for the best
. The only thing missing to this chapter of Masvidal's career, which has included backyard fighting along with Kimbo Slice, to the 'BMF' title, is the undisputed welterweight title, and his time to write the story his way is upon us all.