Not even Combat Island can evaluate to the kind of remoted distance UFC champion Kamaru Usman is placing between himself and the remainder of the welterweight division. He didn’t go away UFC 251 because the folks’s champ, however by his lopsided win over Jorge Masvidal, the reigning welterweight king did handle to show, unequivocally, that he’s the very best the division has seen since Georges St-Pierre.
There’s no denying the boo birds would have been in full pressure if the UFC allowed followers to attend its sundered tropical island occasion, which seemed like a crossbreed of “Mortal Kombat” and David Fincher’s “Combat Membership.” The Twitter birds have already been chirping unrelentingly with complaints.
Usman did what he wanted to do to defend his throne in dominant vogue, whereas assuring he took the least quantity of harm in doing so. He applied the precise grappling-heavy sport plan that each speaking head—ranging on an MMA aficionado scale of Daniel Cormier to Stephen A. Smith—predicted as his greatest path to victory.
But, MMA followers appeared aghast when he utilized these very techniques towards a menacing striker that turned a standout athlete like Ben Askren right into a strolling spotlight reel.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 12, 2020
There have been shades of Randy Couture with the clinch-work towards the cage, Chris Leben with the foot stomps and Khabib Nurmagomedov with the relentless grappling pursuits in Usman’s five-round shutout over Masvidal. Extra importantly, nonetheless, the dominance was paying homage to arguably the best fighter in MMA historical past, Georges St-Pierre.
Certain, there was nothing flashy about Usman’s efficiency, however he did handle to close down a harmful knockout artist that has put extra grown males to sleep than Bob Ross. St-Pierre made a reputation off taking opponents out of their consolation zone and being well-rounded sufficient to compete in all facets of a combat—whether or not it’s standing, within the clinch or on the bottom.
There aren’t any obvious holes in Usman’s sport, and we haven’t seen that since St-Pierre was operating out of UFC tunnels in his martial arts gi with a karate headband and French rap music blasting within the background. It’s just like the worst case of amnesia has befallen a fan base that has one way or the other forgotten Usman’s brutal, “Combat of the Evening” slugfest with Colby Covington final December.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 15, 2019
His victory over Masvidal tied St-Pierre’s UFC document (12) for the longest win streak within the welterweight division.
So he already walks alongside MMA royalty in his sustained dominance within the promotion. That isn’t to say he’s anyplace shut to truly overtaking St-Pierre as the very best the division has ever seen. The French-Canadian legend accomplished and compiled the kind of hit listing that may make Jason Bourne envious.
Make no mistake, this isn’t some veiled try and rush the baton to Kamaru Usman as the best welterweight of all time. With solely two profitable title defenses, he nonetheless has a methods to go earlier than that may even be a official dialogue.
However there’s additionally no arguing the truth that he’s the very best the division has seen since St-Pierre relinquished the title and blindsided the world with an early retirement. In simply his final 5 fights alone, he ran by two former UFC champions in Tyron Woodley and Rafael dos Anjos, stopped a former interim champ in Covington and dominated two respectable, but terrifying, veteran contenders in Masvidal and Demian Maia.
Go forward and stick a fork in that argument. It’s kaput at this level—over and carried out.
Masvidal must be revered for stepping up and accepting the combat on six days’ discover, however Usman deserves the identical credit score for staying in and agreeing to compete towards a very totally different opponent after Gilbert Burns was pressured off the cardboard. Adjusting to new opponents on the fly at that stage is not any cakewalk.
Maybe the one lingering criticism surrounding Usman is the truth that he utilized his world-class grappling to coast to a choice win over a real fan favourite in Masvidal. In a blended sport stuffed with fight consultants from all facets, folks solely cheer for the artwork when their man is profitable. Something outdoors of that’s perceived as irredeemably boring.
“We’re risking our lives in there,” Usman correctly identified on the post-fight press convention. “What’s the purpose of coaching every day and entering into and simply slugging round and taking punches? You practice to have the ability to make somebody miss, to have the ability to management them in a sure manner.”
This makes the St-Pierre comparisons much more intriguing contemplating the previous champ was the king of implementing efficient methods and shutting down opponents. If folks wish to bash Usman for not having a shtick to associate with his UFC gold, it’s their prerogative as paying clients of a present to take that stance.
However flamboyancy and manufactured drama can solely get a fighter thus far in a sport with the slimmest margin for error on the high of the heap. Kamaru Usman is digging his toes into the backs of the very best fighters on the planet and prioritizing making historical past, reasonably than merely being part of it.