John Locher/Associated Press
Kamaru Usman ruthlessly knocked out Jorge Masvidal to retain the Welterweight title and then promptly challenged the entire sport with a strong declaration.
Usman called himself the best pound-for-pound fighter in UFC now that Khabib Nurmagomedov retired and after his performance at UFC 261 it might be rather difficult to argue otherwise. The Nigerian Nightmare needed barely two rounds to finish off Masvidal, which he did with a thundering right hook to the face that dropped his challenger.
Jon Jones entered the night as the company’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter with Usman coming in at No. 2.
That’s not to say Usman wasn’t concerned walking into this fight. He certainly was. Masvidal took him the distance in their last bout at UFC 251 in July 2020. It was embracing that uncertainty which helped bring out the best in him.
“Been a while since I’ve been extremely nervous for a fight,” Usman said. “But he elevated me.”
Now with back-to-back wins over Masvidal, Usman’s future is as bright as ever.
The 33-year-old is 19-1 (9 KOs) and hasn’t lost since signing with UFC in 2015. Along the way he’s defeated Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley, Rafael dos Anjos and Sean Strickland. With four straight title defenses under his belt now, there’s little standing in the way between Usman and becoming one of the best his weight class has ever seen.
As for taking over the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings, that remains to be seen.
Jones last fought Dominick Reyes to a unanimous-decision victory in February 2020 and is negotiating to face Francis Ngannou next. Should Jones lose that bout—if it indeed happens—Usman’s claim to the pound-for-pound title should be undeniable.
The way he keeps knocking out opponents, it’s hard to imagine that won’t be the case.