UFC 251 saw the promotion deliver the first of its four events from the much-hyped "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi. Saturday night's pay-per-view event had a stacked card, with no less than three UFC championships being contested.
Unfortunately, though, the evening's headline bout between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal for the UFC welterweight championship fell well short of expectations - and disappointed fight fans were quick to take to Twitter to express their unhappiness.
The Usman vs Masvidal clash had a great backdrop. "Gamebred" took the fight on just six days' notice after scheduled challenger Gilbert Burns was pulled from the fight with Usman having tested positive for COVID-19. In truth, Masvidal was the man that most UFC fans wanted to see square off with Usman anyway.
The pair had engaged in a war of words for months and it was clear that there was genuine dislike on both sides. Aside from his personal issue with Usman, Masvidal also had a great case to be considered the number one contender on merit, having stopped Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz in his last three fights. In replacing Burns with Masvidal, the UFC found themselves with a much more appealing attraction at the top of the card.
The stage was set, then, for a blockbuster main event. Regrettably, everything went south once the fight actually started.
Usman, who was making the second defence of his 170lb championship, is a decorated wrestler and it was this skill that he relied on against Masvidal - over and over again before securing a unanimous decision victory on the judges' scorecards.
For much of the fight's 25-minute duration, Usman stuck to Masvidal like glue. Apart from his wrestling, the most notable offence that Usman mustered was some stomps to Masvidal's feet. This might well have been smart strategy against a noted striker like Masvidal, but it is fair to say that the paying public were far from impressed!
Twitter user @jake4eyez lamented "staying up till 6am just to watch Usman hug Masvidal for 25 minutes" and he was far from alone in his criticism of the champion.
Masvidal was recognised as the BMF (Bad M*****F*****) champion having defeated Nate Diaz last November, but user @eokaeloki suggested that the title of the championship should now be changed if it is going to be taken on by Usman:
"I agree that he deserves the BMF belt. Just not the same one as Masvidal. It’s the Boring M*****F***** Belt."
User @4PFDale summed up the general feeling of fans towards the fight when he tweeted an image of 50 Cent sleeping on a couch, together with the caption: "Me whenever Usman next headlines a card."
Even former Masvidal opponent Ben Askren bashed the bout, declaring: "This fight is boring as ****", to which one of his followers suggested that Usman should be renamed "The Nigerian Toe Stomper".
In the moments following the end of the fight, Usman and Masvidal briefly discussed a rematch in the future. Judging by social media reaction to their first encounter, a second instalment is not likely to be something many fans are clamouring for.
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