Jorge Masvidal vs Kamaru Usman: How duo compare ahead of UFC 251 main event – and how will Fight Island battle play out?

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JORGE MASVIDAL and Kamaru Usman have officially agreed to headline UFC 251 at Fight Island – in what will be a fitting climax to their storied rivalry.

They were due to main-event the UFC’s annual international fight week this month until the coronavirus pandemic axed the showpiece event altogether.

The fight was then moved to Abu Dhabi only to collapse shortly after when Masvidal failed to agree terms with the UFC and even threatened to walk out following a pay row.

But in a dramatic turn of events replacement Gilbert Burns tested positive for Covid-19 opening the door for the Masvidal to re-negotiate, this time with much more leverage.

So long as the welterweight rivals pass their coronavirus tests taken in America and Abu Dhabi – the grudge match is on and here SunSport breaks down the title fight.

The Nigerian Nightmare has looked completely dominant since winning the Ultimate Fighter in 2015, with 11 straight victories in the UFC.

He last year dethroned long reigning welterweight champion Tyron Woodley with impressive grappling skills and then made his first defence against Colby Covington.

In a fight of the year contender wrestling experts Usman and Covington exclusively traded strikes proving the champion’s versatility.

No doubt Usman’s strengths lie in his wrestling and grappling ability, proving to be a force once he gets an opponent up against the cage and on to the ground.

But he also carries power in his hands, twice flooring Covington in the fifth and final round leading to a dramatic stoppage.

Usman’s blend and grappling and striking makes him a well rounded champion and a hard opponent to beat.

Masvidal enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2019 with stoppage wins over Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz.

Having been frustrated throughout his career with contentious decision losses, the 35-year-old appeared to take a new approach when moving up to welterweight and vowed not to leave it in the judges hands.

Masvidal has expert striking with both his hands and kicks which was on display against Till and Diaz.

But he is also a quick thinker in the cage with his five second knee over Askren a prime example of taking an opportunity when he sees it.

With a 78 per cent takedown defence ratio, Masvidal’s grappling is underrated and used well when stuffing opponent’s attacks.

Usman would have come into the originally scheduled fight as a favourite, and on a week’s notice has even more of an advantage.

But having prepared most of his training camp for a wrestler in Burns, striking maestro Masvidal could capitalise on the change of styles.

Usman’s game plan will be to walk Masvidal down with a strong jab and initiate a clinch or grappling exchange, looking for a takedown.

For Masvidal he has to keep the fight at range for as long as he can, hoping to outstrike the champion or catch him as he shoots for a takedown.

If Usman is successful in initiating a grappling exchange, Masvidal will need to get creative with elbows and knees to fight off the attack.

No doubt the champion is expected to retain his belt, but it would mark a major upset if Masvidal stepped in at the last minute and defied the odds again.

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