IT WAS a punch that landed with so much impact it reverberated across the MMA world.
Kamaru Usman defended his 170lb crown against “The Gamebred Fighter” Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 in a rematch last Sunday, April 25, 2021, and it was truly worth the wait.
To recall, the first time these two met, Usman won via unanimous decision, but Masvidal took that fight on six days notice. Coming into the rematch, the question was whether or not Masvidal could fight better this time with a full training camp?
Well, apparently not.
THE FIGHT. The first round was very telling of how the fight would probably end. Usman was landing that right hand almost at will.
Every time it did, Masvidal would just grin as if it would attenuate the impact- quite typical of a fighter who wants to impress upon his opponent that he wasn’t hurt.
Of course, everyone but the fighter himself is a better judge of that and in this particular case, Usman’s bombs clearly shook Masvidal.
For his part, Masvidal landed several nasty looking leg kicks. Usman was able to score a takedown and for the most part where they were able to grapple along the cage, no evident damage was made by either fighter.
So it became a striking game, for all intents and purposes. Something about the way the first round ended indicated that we were in for a violent finish.
And at exactly the fourth minute mark of the second, Usman landed a right hand flush on Masvidal’s chin with so much torque that the latter was out even before he collapsed.
The follow up flurry of hammer fists was not even necessary as he was already on snooze mode when the referee intervened to call for the denouement of the fight.
BOXING. I predicted Usman to win via unanimous decision, as I thought he would opt to play it safe against a more dangerous Masvidal in the rematch. But I guess he knew he had it in him to take Masvidal out early, especially when he started landing those right hands at will in the opening round.
Apparently, a more aggressive Masvidal only opened him up to Usman’s counter-fire as it was evident that the latter’s defense against the former’s punches was porous and quite inadequate.
Look at the fight again and observe how Masvidal has his left hand down low. Cocky as he is, he switched stances in an effort to guard against the right hand coming from an opposite direction.
It didn’t matter. Usman was comfortable throwing the right hand whether as a lead punch or making it the second punch in a combination, which was how the fight ended.
Observe how Usman parried Masvidal’s right hand with his left and in the same swift motion, uncorked a straight right hand which beat Masvidal’s left as the latter was trying to land also a hook of some sort.
It is in these moments where I truly relish being a student of the game and fan of fight sports. When you can set aside the fuss and the uproar, you get to appreciate the science behind the punching game.
For his part, Masvidal was truly gracious in defeat and appreciated the technique that went behind the punch that defeated him.
Bravo to both these outstanding warriors!
VERBATIM. “I thought he was going in for a shot, and when I realized it wasn’t a shot, it was too late. I was throwing my check hook, but was already too late. I read the information wrong, so he sold it to me beautifully. In that moment right there, I am a fan because I love the sport so much, and it was just beautiful technique. -Jorge Masvidal (www.XcellentMMA.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on Cebu City Council’s most indefatigable member, honorable Joel Garganera who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!