Kamaru Usman has called out Jorge Masvidal for a rematch of last summer’s Abu Dhabi clash after the welterweight champion defeated Gilbert Burns with a superb display on Sunday morning.
The "Nigerian Nightmare", unbeaten thus far in the UFC, survived an early scare to see off his former teammate in the headline bout at UFC 258 in Las Vegas, rocking Burns in the second round before sealing the contest with a TKO not long into the third.
The victory took Usman’s win streak to 17 – his professional CV stands at 18-1 – while he also surpassed Georges St-Pierre’s record for consecutive wins at welterweight, with 13.
With reputation once more enhanced, Usman is now aiming for a chance to finally "shut up" old foe Masvidal. The pair met at UFC 251 at the inaugural Fight Island in Abu Dhabi last July, when Masvidal stepped in for Burns on six days' notice.
Usman dominated to triumph by unanimous decision, and last month revealed he had even suffered a “shattered nose” during his training camp in the build-up to the fight.
Speaking after getting past Burns, the division’s No 1-ranked contender, Usman told Joe Rogan: “We got this little street thug ... we tried to make that fight several times, they tried to make that fight. But he kept backing out.
“The only reason this man took the fight is because it was on six days’ notice, and he had a built-in excuse. And he’s still running his mouth, talking about, ‘Oh, he broke my nose and stepping in on six days’ notice.’
“Guess what? It’s not done. I’ll give you a whole training camp, I guarantee you, you won't sign on that dotted line because this time, I’m going to finish your [expletive].”
Unbeaten since suffering his only pro loss in May 2013, Usman said he would next face whomever is willing to step up to the challenge but that, for him, Masvidal tops the list of potential opponents.
“Anyone of these fools can get it,” he said. “But he keeps running his mouth. If he’s going to talk, step in here and you go to see me. Step in here and see me.”
Usman added at the post-fight press conference: “This time I will stop him, I promise you. That’s why I was disappointed in myself in that last fight, because I know I can stop him. But with all the circumstances that took place, I just went out and dominated him from start to finish.
"But I guarantee you he doesn’t want to step in. He’s going to be quiet. I want to stop him for real. Because that’s the only thing that will close his mouth. I’m going to put him in a coffin this time.”
Usman also took time to pay tribute to Burns. Teammates for almost a decade, Usman left Sanford MMA last year to prepare for their scheduled bout at UFC 251. On Sunday, the Brazilian was overcome with emotion inside the octagon, with his conqueror saying later: "That was very, very hard for me to see because I was responsible for that. This is a guy I grew up with in the sport, we trained together each and every day, we gravitated towards one another because we shared a common goal.
"My mind is different than these guys when we get in there. I see no face. That is my octagon ... he said I have something he wants and 'I'm coming to get it'. What's more personal than that?
"I know this one's going to be tough for Gilbert, but he's a champion in his own way and he'll get back on the horse. And I'll be more than happy to go to dinner with him."
As for Usman versus Masvidal next, UFC president Dana White said: “There’s a lot of options for [Usman] right now. And if that’s the fight he wants and that’s the fight Masvidal wants, and I’m sure the people would like to see it, too… so, I don’t know. We’ll see.”