Kamaru Usman played a smart game as he relied on his strength and grappling skills to grind out a unanimous decision victory over Jorge Masvidal Sunday afternoon in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to retain his UFC welterweight title.
In the co-main event Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway fought practically the same way they did in their first meeting and the result was also the same with Volkanovski earning a split decision victory.
Volkanovski thus successfully defended his UFC featherweight championship belt. Volkanovski landed 137 significant strikes to Holloway’s 102 and earned three takedowns.
It was actually a fight that could have gone either way. Holloway may have taken the first two rounds but Volkanovski rallied late in the fight to retain his title.
Usman traded punches with Masvidal early. But with Masvidal counterpunching effectively and getting the better of the exchanges Usman switched tactics.
He instead repeatedly pushed Masvidal up against the cage. He then struck Masvidal with his shoulder, stomped Masvidal’s feet and drove in hard punches to the body. Usman even accidentally headbutted Masvidal several times and went on to grab the decision.
In the third title fight of the card Jose Aldo started strong but wilted late to lose by KO in the fifth round to Petr Yan who grabbed the UFC Bantamweight title.
A bloodied and bruised Rose Namajunas relied on superior striking to eke out a hard-earned decision victory over Jessica Andrade in a battle of former UFC world champions.
Paige Van Zant, looking like she just wanted to finish her UFC contract, was pushed, tossed around and then submitted through armbar by an enthusiastic Amanda Ribas.
Usman completed a big takedown in the third. But Masvidal defended competently from full guard with Usman failing to inflict too much damage from the top position.
In the second Masvidal landed the cleaner punches at the center of the Octagon but Usman pushed him against the cage, grappled, and connected with an “accidental” headbutt.
Usman took down Masvidal twice in the first round but could not inflict too much damage in an opening round that was largely even.
There’s no love lost between the two fighters who refused to tap hands at the opening of the fight.
Masvidal took the fight on very short notice after Usman’s scheduled opponent, Gilbert Burns, tested positive for Covid-19 July 3, just hours before the UFC charter was set to leave Las Vegas for Abu Dhabi.
The UFC and Masvidal came to terms only over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.