JORGE MASVIDAL has been training to fight Kamaru Usman for WEEKS – even after their original talks broke down.
Masvidal, 35, agreed to step in on just a week’s notice to challenge welterweight champion Usman, 33, at UFC 251 on ‘Fight Island’.
The American initially failed to agree terms for the bout, disputing his cut in the pay-per-view sales, which led to 33-year-old Gilbert Burns taking the title fight.
But after Brazilian Burns dramatically failed a coronavirus test, the UFC turned once again to Masvidal and a last-gasp deal was finalised with just days to go.
It turns out Masvidal had anticipated the scenario, as training partner Dustin Poirier – who beat Dan Hooker at the end of June – was in camp with the welterweight challenger.
Poirier told the Teddy Atlas podcast: “It’s short notice because he didn’t have the contract signed.
“But let me tell you what. This guy was there my whole training camp, he was my main sparring partner.
“We probably put in five weeks of sparring together. He flew in wrestlers, the best wrestlers in the world, I think they put them up just for Masvidal to use.
“Even when the fight fell through and they gave it to Burns, I think it was at the end of my training camp, Jorge was still in the gym every day like he had a fight.
“I don’t know if he knew something we didn’t, but the guy was in training camp the whole time and never stopped.”
Masvidal revealed he weighed 191lb when he agreed terms for the fight, meaning he left himself six days to trim 20lb to make the welterweight limit.
But the veteran campaigner is not phased by the gruelling weight cut or task of facing grappling maestro Usman with less than a week to prepare.
And with secret sessions in Florida’s American Top Team gym, Poirier reckons Masvidal will surprise those who feel he has left himself too much to conquer in too little time.
The lightweight said: “I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people with the shape he’s in, his timing’s going to be good because he was in my camp the whole time.
“Helping a few guys, not just me. He’s in fight shape, I know that much. This isn’t a guy who’s coming off the couch.
“This is a guy who was preparing to fight Usman and the fight fell through and he kept training.”