Yesterday, there was some solid momentum when it came to the direction of the UFC‘s welterweight division. The champion, Kamaru Usman (18-1), and his management met with Dana White this week and laid out what they wanted next. It was clear that they wanted the rematch with Jorge Masvidal (35-14).
Talks were picking up quickly and both men appeared set to not only rematch but coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. All of this started coming together after UFC 258. After Usman successfully defended his title, he took to the microphone and called out Masvidal.
The two men fought at UFC 251 and Usman won by decision. However, Usman was not happy with the performance and he wanted to fight him again to prove a point. The point that he wanted to prove was that he could finish the UFC‘s BMF. Masvidal and his management seemed to be down for the deal as well.
However, momentum has seemed to hit a snag today. The champion tweeted out, “I’m not feeling generous anymore. Anyone can get it.” Masvidal then responded with his own tweet saying, “Cold feet when you heard we said yes.” It now appears that the UFC has hurdles to getting this done.
Usman says he’s changing course and Masvidal chalks it up to “cold feet” ?
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) February 20, 2021
What will the UFC do?
It is unclear at this time what has happened that broke down the talks. The UFC was gearing things up and a deal could have been finalized in the next few days. However, that no longer appears to be the case. There are a number of things that could’ve happened.
One interesting wrinkle to this situation is the Leon Edwards news. Leon Edwards is now booked to fight Belal Muhammad on March 13th. With Edwards taking on Muhammad, that leaves Colby Covington (16-2) without a dance partner. Covington and Usman had arguably the fight of the year in 2019.
When it comes to the UFC, Kamaru Usman holds the most leverage as the champion. Dana White all but said that they will follow what Kamaru Usman wants. If Usman wants to fight Covington next, Covington will be the guy. If it’s Masvidal, Masvidal will be the guy. Both would be worthy challengers to the champion.
For Masvidal, the fight could be billed as the fight we should have seen in July. Both guys on a full training camp to see who the better man is. For Covington, the fight could be billed as the rematch after a classic first fight. Both situations would sell for the UFC.
It’s worth noting that the promotion had a tough time booking Usman – Masvidal the first time. Masvidal actually lost the fight to Gilbert Burns. However, Burns’ positive COVID test brought the fight back to Gamebred. At the end of the day, It all comes down to what Usman wants. Whoever the champ wants, the champion will likely get.