Quijano: Can the gamebred fighter fight better against Usman?

TODAY at UFC 262 in Jacksonville, Florida, Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal will figure in a rematch for the former’s UFC welterweight title.

The first time they met, Usman won via unanimous decision, but of course we know that Masvidal took the fight on short notice (six days) and struggled to make the weight, not to mention being devoid of a full training camp for the fight.

This time around, with ample time to train and develop a game-plan, will it make any difference?

KAMARU. The muscular and chiseled Usman (18-1) always comes ready and well conditioned for his fights. The first time they met, Masvidal was able to catch him with some eye-popping shots in the early rounds, but eventually an ill-prepared Masvidal fizzled and flamed out.

Despite being blessed with explosive power, Usman doesn’t really mind going the distance, so I don’t expect Usman to change anything by way of strategy.

In all probability, Usman will play it safe and not risk anything on the octagon against the mercurial Masvidal.

JORGE. Between the two protagonists it is Masvidal who is obviously in a position, and expected to fight better.

Though some pundits pooh-poohed the claim that he was unprepared the first time around as according to them he was in full training mode when the call from UFC President Dana White came, still you have to concede that you don’t prepare for every opponent in the same manner.

The circumstances for this fight have drastically changed this time around, but the pressure is all on Masvidal to put on a better show.

MY TAKE. Masvidal will come out firing, eager to make a statement. Not that he actually succumbs to the pressure and the expectations of the fight fans. No, not at all. He’s just built that way and relishes surprising his opponents and playing to the crowd.

Unfortunately, the cerebral Usman might just be the perfect foil for a bohemian like Masvidal.

Usman is most certainly capable of matching Masvidal’s speed and strength, but he will deploy those attributes not necessarily to overcome but to contain. At least for the first half of the fight.

Masvidal will need to resort to every trick in the book to gain an advantage, but Usman is capable of controlling and containing him, barring any tactical mistakes.

Usman will most likely be content in turning this into a boring scrap. After all, he is the defending champion and he had already defeated Masvidal once before.

I’m not saying Masvidal is incapable of knocking him out—anything can happen in an MMA fight—but if these two fought 10 times, Usman likely beats Masvidal six or seven times if he sticks to his gameplan. Why take the risk?

Moreover, in terms of career trajectory, Masvidal (35-14) has a lot less to lose than Usman (18-1).

I think an overly cautious Usman repeats over “The Gamebred Fighter” in a unanimous decision victory.

LAST ROUND. It’s on Dr. Tess Heyrosa who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!