UFC: Usman, Volkanovski Conquer Opponents at UFC251
Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski both defended their UFC titles successfully, but not without challenge.
Jorge Masvidal headed to Sunday’s headlining bout on a measly 6-day notice, but he did come prepared for ‘The Nigerian Nightmare.’
His determination to get a knockout win made for some impressive moves and an exciting first round, which could have gotten him more cheers than Usman’s laidback, cerebral approach, had there been any fans inside the temporary ring in Abu Dhabi.
As always, Usman kept himself unfazed.
A Worthy Challenger
The welterweight champion gave props to his worthy challenger, but didn’t shy away from saying that ‘Gamebred’ never had the chance.
“I knew he was tough,” Usman said in a report by the Las Vegas Review Journal.
“I’ve always said minus the trash talk and all the other things that went on, he’s a tough guy. He’s always game to fight, but I’m just at a different level. I have so many tools in my toolbox and when I need to pull them out, I do.
By the time the last bell sounded, Usman’s technical strategy and careful fighting style had won him the match: 50-45, 50-45, 49-48.
It wasn’t quite as easy for Volkanovski, though.
Split Decision Victory
In fact, judges were split on his hairline win against Max Holloway at 47-48, 48-78, and 48-47.
According to CGTN, the two fighters had promised their fans something different for this fight. Volkanovski said he’d roll out a new strategy, while Holloway swore he had only trained through Zoom.
We don’t know what went on during his Zoom sessions, but Holloway appeared more aggressive in the first few rounds of this fight than ever before. If not for The Great’s successful takedown attempts in rounds 4 and 5, the judges may have given it to him.
Even Volkanovski is aware of this.
“He made it tough for me in the earlier rounds, I didn’t use the kicks as much as I would have liked, but I got the job done,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s the main thing. I knew it was two rounds apiece going into that last round. I had to win that last round. I wanted a finish. He went for the finish. Unfortunately, neither of us got it. I won the decision and that’s what counts.”
Still, those solid inside leg kicks worked like a charm for the defending champ, who narrowly escaped his second encounter with Holloway, who took to Instagram to declare his peace with what many have called a controversial decision.