MANILA, Philippines – Aside from defending his title, Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman has another goal in mind: destroy his challenger’s will and spirit.
The reigning UFC welterweight champion (16-1) will have a chance to achieve that goal as he takes the center stage with last-minute opponent Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal (35-13) in UFC 251 on Sunday, July 12 (Manila time) at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
“When you beat someone from start to finish and outclass them completely, it breaks them internally,” said Usman. “It takes something away from them that they can never gain back. That’s a fight that they don’t wanna fight again.”
“If I knock [Masvidal] out in the 1st round, I’ll take it. But I want to break him mentally. I want to break his spirit,” he added.
The 33-year-old fighter is no stranger to extended fights as 4 of his last 5 fights ended with a decision victory while his last fight against Colby Covington finished with a Round 5 TKO.
Masvidal stepped in the main event bout after Gilbert Burns, the No.1 contender in welterweight division, tested positive in COVID-19.
Usman did not hide his frustration about Burns’ situation but emphasized he’ ready to face anyone.
“I’m disappointed when Gilbert fell out,” said Usman.
“I’ve built myself just working day in and day out and training for each different style and opponent,” he added. “It doesn’t matter who [am I going to face]. My style is geared to break and dominate my opponent and my goal is to impose my will and get them out of there.”
Despite Masvidal’s handicaps – weight issue, coach’s absence due to the virus, and just 6 days of training – Usman said he will not go easy versus the “toughest and biggest” challenger that he’s about to face inside the octagon.
And Masvidal made it clear that Usman better be ready.
“I don’t have faith in [Usman],” Masvidal said. “There are a lot of guys that I fought in the past that I wouldn’t take in 6 days. Usman is like the perfect guy to take in 6 days.’
“[Usman] is nowhere near good as advertised,” he added. “That’s why I’m here, I think he’s mentally weak. His mental weaknesses will come out on Saturday. The world’s gonna see that I just took full advantage of this individual and his weak ways.”
The veteran fighter out of Miami, Florida is known for his bad boy personality that was backed with his impressive victories, including the five-second knockout against Ben Askren – the fastest KO in UFC history.
“Masvidal is the biggest opponent that I’ll face up to this day,” Usman said. “He’s the toughest guy in front of me and I don’t take him lightly. I’m going out there with the thought that he’s the toughest opponent that I’ll face, and I have to treat him accordingly.”
“I know he’s been preparing and I’m not coming in there thinking he’s not in shape or he’s not gonna be prepared to fight. At the end of the day, Saturday night, we’re gonna step in there and we’re gonna make it happen,” he added.
The Usman-Masvidal bout will be the highlight of the main card of UFC 251, which will start at 10 am (10 pm ET) while the preliminary card will begin at 8 am (8 pm ET). – Rappler.com