The UFC welterweight title will be up for grabs at the promotion’s “International Fight Week” which is scheduled for July 2020 in Las Vegas.
International Fight Week is one of the most anticipated events of the UFC’s annual calendar. It is held in July of each year for several days with activities like concerts, open workouts, fan interactions, and many more. The highlight of the week though is the pay per view event which often features some of the biggest fights of the year.
Last year, Jon Jones defended his light heavyweight title against Thiago Santos at UFC 239 on International Fight Week. This year, a welterweight title bout between champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal is in the works, according to UFC President Dana White. Usman won the UFC welterweight title by defeating rival Colby Covington at UFC 239 last December 14, 2019. Masvidal meanwhile, is considered by many as the rightful winner of the 2019 Fighter of the Year award for his impressive stoppage wins over Darren Till, Ben Askren, and Nate Diaz.
Although the fight is not yet official, the betting odds for this highly anticipated showdown between two of the best welterweights in the world have already been posted at the top betting sites. As of February 18 2020, at the online sportsbook BetOnline.ag, Kamaru Usman is a -260 betting favorite while Jorge Masvidal came back as a +200 underdog.
Let’s take an early look at the bout and make out early betting prediction:
The Nigerian Nightmare
Known as the Nigerian Nightmare, Kamaru Usman burst into the UFC after winning the 21st season of The Ultimate Fighter series. After defeating former WSOF welterweight champion Steve Carl in the semifinals, Usman scored a second-round submission victory over Hayder Hassan to win the tournament and earn a six-figure contract from the UFC. Since signing with the UFC, Usman is undefeated inside the Octagon with 11 consecutive wins. Although eight of those wins came via decision, The Nigerian Nightmare is coming off a dominating stoppage win over Colby Covington at UFC 239 where he successfully defended the UFC welterweight title for the first time.
Known for his “boring” wrestling skills, Usman went toe to toe with Covington and chose to strike for the entire fight and ended up knocking out the loudmouth Covington. Usman is known as a takedown machine. He took down former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos 12 times during their bout and he also put Emil Meek down on the mat 8 times. But against Covington, Usman didn’t even attempt a single takedown. Instead, he outstruck Covington 175 -143 in significant strikes landed, knocking out Covington in the 5th an final round.
Jorge Masvidal was known first as a street fighter in Miami and once defeated Kimbo Slice’s protege “Ray” in a street fight. He transitioned to kickboxing and earned his most famous win at the Absolute Fighting Championships XII where he defeated UFC star Joe Lauzon via TKO. Masvidal moved over to MMA and fought for BodogFight, Bellator, and Strikeforce before finally arriving in the UFC. Masvidal won five out of his first six UFC bouts, defeating the likes of Tim Means, Michael Chiesa, and Pat Healy during the period. But he went 4-5 with losses to Al Iaquinta, Benson Henderson, Lorenz Larkin, Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson from 2015-2018. But Masvidal became the talk of the town in 2019 with three signature victories over high profile opponents.
Gamebred opened his 2019 campaign with a stunning second-round knockout win over Darren Till at UFC Fight Night 147 in Till’s hometown of London in England. Four months later, Masvidal continued his winning ways with a spectacular knockout of former Bellator and One Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren. Masvidal knocked out Askren with his first strike of the night- a flying knee. The stoppage was clocked at five seconds which is the fastest knockout in the history of the UFC. Masvidal’s year did not end with his Knockout of the Year winner over Funky Ben. Gamebred faced Nate Diaz for the “Baddest M-F (BMF)” title in the main event of UFC 244. Masvidal put on a striking clinic and busted Diaz’s face and forcing the doctor to stop the fight.
When you look at Kamaru Usman, you’re staring at a fighter with NCAA wrestling pedigree and one of the takedown machines in the promotion. Usman is often called a boring fighter because he secures takedowns rather easily and then is content with dominating his foes from top position without regard for getting the knockout or submission. Despite his reputation, Usman proved against Colby Covington that he can strike and with Covington known for his pace and striking skills, the Nigerian Nightmare proved that he is tough to beat on his feet as well. Not only did Usman show speed and punching power, but he also displayed tremendous durability in the face of Covington’s relentless pace.
As far as Jorge Masvidal is concerned, there is only one way to fight and that is to move forward. He is a striker at heart and he has a background in boxing from fighting in the streets of Miami. That experience also gave him his toughness and his durability. Gamebred has great footwork, fast hands, and well-time combinations that compliment his punching power. But while he is well-known for his stand-up game, Masvidal also owns a very good wrestling game and has some well-documented takedowns and submission wins in the UFC. He is no one-trick pony and he can hold his own on the ground when needed.
This is going to be an interesting fight between an elite wrestler who recently displayed his ability to strike and a striker who has shown in the past that he can hold his own against the top wrestlers in the promotion. I think that Usman will try to go back to his strength here and he will try to take Masvidal down. However, I think that Masvidal will be taken down at some point but he will either be able to get up or get the submission win. Usman showed terrific pace against Covington but Masvidal’s energy is something else. Between picking Usman at a higher premium, I’d rather put my money on Jorge Masvidal at +200. I mean Usman can strike but Masvidal can compete with him on the ground as well. The more well-rounded fighter wins here.