The UFC led the sports world’s return to normalcy by producing one of the best cards in MMA history, highlighted by three Hall of Fame performances by three future Hall of Fame fighters.
The most surprising and impactful performance of the night was delivered by UFC Welterweight kingpin, Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare”, Usman who closed the show and gold-stamped his future Hall of Fame career with a performance for the ages.
In the main event of UFC 261, Usman became the first man in UFC history to stop Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal by strategically moving Masvidal’s right-hand right before crushing him with a monster right hand right on the button which sent Masvidal to the canvas before following him up on the ground for the KO victory – 1 minute, 2 seconds into the second round.
“It was just me staying composed because I knew he was trying to bring me out of myself and like I said, ‘I’m not a character out there, I’m not an imposter’, that’s who I am, and I just had to go out there and stay composed, stay with my fundamentals and the finish came,” Usman said during his post-fight Octagon interview.
“That’s what I wanted to do; I’m so far ahead of these guys, I’m coming around and lapping these guys on the track. I’m coming around with a vengeance, and I had to go out there and put the nails in that coffin and I did and we turn the page and move forward.”
The KO victory is Usman’s third in his last four fights and has moved him to the top of some lists as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The Nigerian Nightmare promised to put on a better performance than he did against Masvidal on July 2020 at Fight Island, when he won by unanimous decision. He delivered with a knockout victory that sent all 15,259 fans in attendance at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, home with a long-lasting memory. The emphatic win also landed Usman a $50K “Performance of the Night” bonus.
With two victories over Masvidal, and two big knockout wins over welterweight contenders Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns, Usman has figuratively cleaned out the division.
Despite this fact, Dana White said multiple times in his post-fight press conference that the fight to make next for Usman was another showdown with Covington later this year.
After a ridiculous promotion built around Covington’s MAGA, Trump-loving persona led to a lot of bad blood between Usman and Covington, the two put on one of the best welterweight title fights in recent memory at UFC 245.
Ultimately, Usman broke Covington’s jaw and got a TKO stoppage to add another big W to his resume.
“With my fundamentals, I am the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet right now,” Usman said. “Y’all can debate that, but I know what I’ve done and I’m only going to get better.”
Usman’s boss, UFC President Dana White, doubled down on this statement in his post-fight interview session as White went even further, saying Usman is “one of the best ever, and he’s on his way to probably being the greatest of all time.”
“When you go in and you beat the guys who are looked at as the best in the world at that time and you beat them twice and you beat them convincingly, it’s all part of cementing that legacy that this guy is going to have someday,” White said.
Like him or hate him, one thing is certain: When you talk about Kamaru Usman, you need to put some respect on his name because this man is trending towards being one of the all-time greats in combat sports history, and he’s putting on bigger and better performances each time he graces the octagon.