Five keys to victory for Jorge Masvidal against Kamaru Usman.
UFC 261 at the VyStar Arena in Jacksonville is headlined by a welterweight title fight rematch between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. They fought at UFC 251 when Usman won via unanimous decision. The only difference now is that Masvidal will have a full camp to prepare for a five-round title fight. He took the fight the first time on six days’ notice and replaced Gilbert Burns.
Usman is coming off a title defense victory at UFC 258 when he defeated Burns via TKO in the third round. His jab looked sharp but he did not utilize his wrestling at all. He stood at bay and used his striking to remain victorious. Masvidal has not fought since he lost to Usman in July 2020. He looks to steal the belt away now with a full camp and become the new welterweight champion.
Here are the five keys to victory for Jorge Masvidal.
Keep the fight on the feet
Jorge Masvidal needs to keep this fight on the feet if he wants to become the new welterweight champion. His wrestling is underrated but Usman is a superb wrestler. In their first fight, when it was on the feet and both men were exchanging strikes, Masvidal was winning that battle. This led to Usman engaging in the clinch and holding him on the side of the octagon. Even though Usman was not doing much damage in the clinch, he was still gaining control time which plays a factor in the scorecards. If Masvidal can make this a striking affair and prevent the fight from going to the ground, this will play huge in his favor.
Stay consistent with the takedown defense like last time
One of the things that have not been mentioned from their fight in July was that Masvidal stuffed 11 takedowns from Usman. The takedown defense was excellent from him and that was on six days’ notice. With a full camp now, he will be better prepared in all aspects, including more ways to defend the takedown. Usman only took him down five times, and on all of them, Masvidal scrambled to his feet very quickly. His defense is very good and if he is consistent like last time and prevent engaging in the clinch, the belt can be changing hands.
Attack with calf kicks
At American Top Team (ATT), they are known for attacking their opponents with calf kicks. Fighters such as Dustin Poirier, Pedro Munhoz, Amanda Nunes and others that are at ATT are known for attacking with calf kicks. Head coach Mike Brown loves to teach the art of chopping those calves so the opposition can become limited in moving in the octagon, making it easier to attack a fighter when they are barely moving because of the damage to their calves. Masvidal was doing some damage to Usman’s leg in the first fight, but he was attacking the thigh more than the calf. As he threw a kick to the thigh, Kamaru caught the kick and took him down. If Masvidal can focus on the calf kicks more, Usman will not be able to catch that low of a kick and take him down. Also, he can put some serious damage on that lead leg of Usman and slow him down.
Utilize the advantage in the striking game
The clear advantage that Jorge Masvidal has over Kamaru Usman is in the striking game and that is big. Masvidal is one of the best strikers in the game and has to dominate him in this aspect. Masvidal, who is known for his boxing, will have to dictate the pace on the feet with his striking. Usman got stunned by Burns at UFC 258 in the first round and showed some potential signs of him possibly getting finished in the future. Masvidal will need to get in his bag of tricks to really get Usman frustrated. The uppercuts and flying knees will be there in this rematch as Usman will try to take him down and engage in the clinch again. Having this fight be a striking match will be the determining factor on Masvidal winning.
Control the center of the Octagon
It’s very simple, control the center of the Octagon and Masvidal can win. Being in the center means a lot for him. It’ll be hard for Usman to take him down as he will not have the cage behind his back and if he does get him down, Masvidal has a lot of room to scramble his way back up. Being in the center as well means that Jorge will not be controlled on the side of the cage in the clinch. Even though he has some nasty strikes from the clinch, Usman just wants to have control time in the clinch. Masvidal will have a much-improved gas tank so he will be able to throw a high volume of strikes. He likes going at a high and violent pace and in the center of the octagon, Masvidal can produce some fireworks come Saturday night.
UFC 261 takes place on Saturday, April 24, 2021, live from the VyStar Arena in Jacksonville, FL. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.