Less than a week’s notice can hardly be deemed perfect preparation for a world title fight, but Jorge Masvidal is convinced he has enough to defeat “weak-minded” welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in the headline bout at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The American, the division’s No 3-ranked challenger, flew to the capital earlier this week having accepted the clash with Usman after original opponent Gilbert Burns tested positive for Covid-19.
The championship tussle tops the bill at the curtain-raiser to the inaugural Fight Island, a four-show series that takes place at Flash Forum on Yas Island.
Yet, despite the last-gasp arrival to Abu Dhabi, Masvidal is relishing the opportunity.
“Six days’ notice, how prepared could I be?” he said during a virtual media day early on Friday. “I’m as prepared as I need to be for Usman, but obviously it’s not a full training camp as if I had six weeks to prepare.
“I’d be different, my weight wouldn’t be this high. So I’m not going to say weight-wise I’m 100 per cent. But everything else, my mind is ready, my heart is ready, my skill set is better than his any day of the week. So I just got to go out and prove it.”
A veteran of 48 professional mixed martial arts bouts, including 35 victories, Masvidal is no stranger to short-notice fights. Based out of Miami, he began his path towards elite MMA by competing in underground backyard bouts.
So jumping in this week against the welterweight title-holder does not particularly faze him, Masvidal said. Usman is unbeaten in 11 bouts in the UFC, with an overall pro MMA record of 16-1.
“The reason I’m here is I’ve taken more opportunities like this in the past, I just didn’t get credit or whatever this was,” said Masvidal, who last competed in November, when he defeated Nate Diaz for the one-off 'BMF' belt.
“But I’ve done this many times in my career, situations similar to this, and I’ve just got to take advantage of this.
“At end of day, it’s a fight, it’s not a math test. It’s not the SAT or a thing that I’m not the best at. It’s what I love to do the most, it’s what I’ve done since my childhood.”
Asked about the threat posed by Usman, Masvidal said: “My opponent? I don’t have faith in him. There are other guys that I would have been ‘maybe I need more than six days’.
“Besides him having 17 different personalities and me not knowing which one is going to show up to fight, I think he’s weak-minded.
“Nowhere near good as advertised. And that’s why I’m here, I’m going to prove it. It’s just his mental weakness is going to come out on [Sunday] in an abundance. The world’s going to see it, that I just take full advantage of it.”