Jorge Masvidal wants rematch with Kamaru Usman rather than earn fortunes against Conor McGregor

American eager for rematch after losing welterweight title clash at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi

Jorge Masvidal has one thing only in his mind, and that’s a rematch against Kamaru Usman – even if that means forgoing a money-spinning match-up with Conor McGregor.

Contesting his first world title clash, the American was defeated by unanimous decision in the headline bout at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, as the welterweight champion put in a hugely dominant display.

Masvidal, 35, took the fight on six days’ notice following Gilbert Burns late withdrawal, giving the Fight Island opener an incredibly intriguing storyline. That much was reflected in the numbers, with the event said to have generated around 1.3 million in pay-per-view buys – ranking it as the sixth-highest in UFC history.

However, although the appeal underlined Masvidal’s status as one of the biggest draws in the sport, he said his sights are set on only one opponent for his next fight.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Masvidal told ESPN on Wednesday. “Could they offer me bigger names that pay me more money? Yes, for a fact. But if it’s up to me, Usman.

“For me, stepping up on six days’ notice when no one else would, because no one else would. A lot of people are saying that they would, but who else did it? Ask [UFC president] Dana [White]. Who else was actually like ‘Hey, Masvidal didn’t do it, I’ll do it. I’m right here’.

“So, if it’s up to me, Usman right away. I don’t care if they can offer me a bigger fight or not, I would like to fight Usman.”

Masvidal would not confirm how much he stands to earn from UFC 251, but said it would no doubt mark the most lucrative of his 19 fights in the UFC.

He had been involved in a public pay dispute with the organisation before accepting the deal to step in for Burns. The Brazilian, the No 1-ranked welterweight challenger, tested positive for Covid-19 shortly before he was to take his flight to Abu Dhabi.

“You could tell me [I’m fighting] McGregor right now and will pay me X, Y, Z dollars – the biggest pay-per-view event in history,” Masvidal said. “I feel I get compensated well enough now that I keep making the right decisions I’ve been doing, then this money is forever money.

“So it’s not about money. It’s about I want that belt and I’m stubborn and I know I’m better than Usman and I want to prove it. I want to fight again.

“I’m not going to take nothing from him. He won the first one. Let’s do it again and that’s it. Then after that then whatever comes next after that. But Usman’s the thing I want the most; the immediate rematch with Usman.”

Dangerous animal

Masvidal conceded he wasn’t in peak physical condition to take on Usman as he would have wanted, with the Nigerian-born champion moving to 12-0 in the UFC. Masvidal, whose record sits at 12-7, is already back in training in the United States.

“It’s just begun, as far as competitiveness goes,” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t at my best. When I got the call on six days I was more in the gym on a general condition. I was running, I was lifting weights. I wasn’t on the mats three, four times a week but my general priority was to get in better shape. More long-distance running and things like that. When I got the call we started training specifically for the fight and I did the best I can.

"But I don’t want to make no excuses. I don’t want to take nothing away from Usman because, even me on six days’ notice, fighting the world champion, I am a dangerous animal.

“It was a battle for real estate and he won on the real estate more often than not. He was able to take me to his side of the world and keep me there. I don’t want to take nothing from him. We’ll leave it up to the rematch. I’ll let my actions speak louder than my words.”

Updated: July 15, 2020 01:12 PM

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